Arsenal have been linked to lots of strikers. After Napoli’s official radio station linked the club with a move for Gonzalo Higuain, they’re now being linked with Inter striker Mauro Icardi. Along with those rumours, they have been linked with Alexandre Lacazette nearly all summer.
No matter what you think about these rumours, Arsenal need a striker this summer. With Danny Welbeck out until at least March they are down to only Olivier Giroud. Giroud is a very good striker, but if he were to get injured Arsenal’s frontline would be in trouble. They did sign Japanese striker Takuma Asano earlier in the summer, but the 21 year old has never played outside of the Japanese League and it is unknown whether he can perform on a regular basis.
Looking at the three strikers’ shots and goal numbers, one stands out:
Higuain stands out among the rest with about one non penalty goal per 90 minutes, whereas neither of the other two scored more than 0.58 non penalty goals per 90. Don’t be fooled, both Icardi’s and Lacazette’s scoring rates from last year were very good, just not quite on Higuain’s level.
The Napoli striker was also head and shoulders better than the other two when it came to shot numbers. His 5.53 shots per 90 minutes topped Lacazette and Icardi combined. His 4.04 shots inside the box per 90 last season was third in all of Europe among players with at least 2000 minutes played, behind only Cristiano Ronaldo and Robert Lewandsowski. Lacazette posted a solid if unspectacular 2.5 shots in the box per 90 minutes, while Icardi posted a pretty poor 1.77 shots in the box per 90 minutes.
The creative numbers of the three are much closer. Higuain had the slight advantage over Lacazette last year in terms of chances created with 1.55 per 90 compared to the Frenchman’s 1.31. Icardi is then another step down with only 1.11 chances created per 90 minutes.
When it comes to the ability to beat a defender, Lacazette actually led with 1.74 completed take ons per 90 minutes last season. Higuain came in a close second with 1.46 take ons per 90 and Icardi came a distant third with a mere 0.35 completed take ons per 90.
Looking at other factors, Higuain is both the most expensive, with Napoli’s asking price rumoured to be upwards of 60m, and the oldest of the trio. The 28 year old is three and a half years older than Lacazette and five years older than Icardi. Lacazette’s rumoured price tag is somewhere between 40m and 50m. Inter have said they will not allow their striker to leave for anything less than 43m. With the striker market the way it is and the infusion of cash into the Premier League, Arsenal will have to pay big bucks if they want to buy a new number nine.
Higuain is far and away the best player of the three. The striker from Naples is one of the best strikers in the world and would be a great addition to the Gunners, if they were able to get their hands on him. If they are unable to secure Higuain, the other options are much less sure things. Lacazette has had two very good seasons in France, but his shot numbers are nothing more than good, he’s very small in stature and would be playing in a different system at Arsenal. Icardi is much more of a poacher than Arsene Wenger prefers and his poor shot numbers are a big red flag.
Whether it’s one of these three or someone else, Arsenal need a striker this season. Higuain would be the best option. After that the options get much worse. The way the striker market is, Arsenal will likely be paying big money regardless, something Arsene Wenger doesn’t like to do unless he truly believes in the player. Whatever happens, the decision to buy or not to buy a striker could turn out to be a big one over the course of the season.