Heading into last season’s campaign, Arsenal fans were actively criticising Arsene Wenger for his lack of impetus in the transfer market.
The self-funded move from Highbury to the Emirates Stadium had drained the club’s resources and paved the way for more than one year of scrimping and saving when it came to business. Prior to the shock purchase of Mesut Ozil, there were plenty of Gunners fans close to reaching boiling point with regards to calling for Wenger to be replaced, and in some ways it can be said that the Frenchman’s decision to splash £42.5million on the German went a long way to saving his job.
Fast forward to the present and Wenger’s future at the Emirates Stadium isn’t looking nearly as precarious, thanks mainly to the team’s successes in the F.A Cup. However that doesn’t mean Arsenal supporters aren’t expecting big purchases this summer. If anything it means they’re hungry for more.
Alas, as has been well documented in recent days, Wenger’s activity in Brazil has meant that Arsenal have remained silent on the transfer front whilst the likes of Manchester United, Manchester City and Chelsea have all bolstered their squads. Whilst the 64-year-old lends his opinions on the tournament and partakes in beach volleyball it would appear that his Premier League rivals are steadily getting the jump on his side, but what will evoke the ire of the Arsenal faithful more than anything is the fact that it remains yet unknown who will be leading their line.
The man they need
It doesn’t take a genius to determine that Wenger’s squad is perhaps only a clinical forward away from mounting a substantial charge for the Premier League title, and if Arsenal can get their hands on a 20+ goal a season striker then their lofty ambitions both in Europe and domestically would be offered more credence.
A number of targets have been linked with a switch to north London, particularly as Wenger has serious money to spend. With all due respect to the likes of Mario Mandzukic and Loic Remy however, there is only one who Wenger should be focusing all his efforts on luring; Karim Benzema.
The 26-year-old has gradually realised the potential which he promised whilst playing for Lyon, and his performances in the World Cup will surely have convinced any potential suitors who may have harboured doubts.
Better than the others
The first reason that Benzema should be Wenger’s utmost priority this summer is that he’s simply better than any other viable option in the market. Aside from Liverpool’s Luis Suarez there isn’t an out and out forward who’s capable of finding the net as often as the Madrid star is in the current climate, and the fact that Los Blancos are monitoring deals for both James Rodriguez and Radamel Falcao means they may be open to receiving tabled bids.
Of course there are alternatives to be found, but question marks remain over whether or not they’re as suited to firing Arsenal into title contention as Benzema is. His Real team-mate, Alvaro Morata, is said to have been watched by the Gunners, but his age and lack of genuine goalscoring pedigree counts too heavily against him in my book.
Another option would be AC Milan’s Mario Balotelli; a man many feel could become one of the game’s best forwards in years to come. That being said his hot-headed temperament, lacklustre attitude and tendency to go wandering in games of great importance - see Italy’s recent clash with Uruguay - make him a reserve option at best.
Will Wenger keep faith?
If Arsenal’s long-serving gaffer opts to turn his back on the masses and place his faith in what he has then there is the chance that either Joel Campbell or Yaya Sanogo could be given the opportunity to stake a permanent place alongside Olivier Giroud. Admittedly the notion of the latter being charged with bearing the brunt of the club’s goalscoring responsibilities is wayward at best, but the former, given his exploits over the last 12 months, could be a feasible option.
Even Campbell however pales in comparison to Benzema, and in truth Wenger will know that landing the France international holds the key to unlocking the door to Premier League success which has been shut since 2004.