Five cheap alternatives to Vlahovic who Arsenal could consider

Cameron Smith
Cameron Smith
  • 26 Jan 2022 08:00 GMT
  • 6 min read
Mohamed Bayo playing for Clermont Foot, 2021/22
© ProShots

Arsenal's transfer strategy has become very much focused on young talent over the past year.

Signings like Petr Cech and Willian, ageing players with little to add at the top level, appear to have exited the club's mind, and they've begun scouting for fresh talent, in a bid to nurture them into stars.

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A prevalent example has been Gabriel Martinelli, who has been shoved into the spotlight this season, following his injury, and has taken to the centre stage effortlessly.

The summer additions of Ben White, Aaron Ramsdale, Albert Sambi Lokonga, Takehiro Tomiyasu and Martin Odegaard also all point in one direction - youth.

So, it's obvious why the Gunners were targeting Dusan Vlahovic. At 21, he fits the mould of Mikel Arteta's side, while also being able to contribute right now. However, the Serbian international looks set to complete his €75 million (£62.8m) move to Juventus before January comes to a close, meaning Arsenal will have missed out on yet another priority target.

But, it does provide them with an opportunity to shop shrewdly in the market. Ever since splashing a club record fee on Nicolas Pepe, Arsenal have seemed slightly hamstrung by finances, and they certainly will be after spending the most money of any Premier League club last summer.

That window's moves have all been successful, so Arteta won't be complaining, but it will likely affect his squad planning for next year. Vlahovic would've been the marquee signing, but with that out of the question, the Gunners should address their central midfield issue.

Bruno Guimaraes has been linked, and the Brazilian would be ideal to play alongside Thomas Partey. He would, however, cost a fair amount, which would compromise Arsenal's hunt for a new number nine, which is needed given the contract situation, and age, of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette.

If the scenario stays the same, then Arsenal will be without a recognised striker in the summer if Aubameyang leaves, with Eddie Nketiah's contract, like Lacazette's, expiring in a few months time.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang looks to be on his way out at Arsenal
© ProShots - Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang looks to be on his way out at Arsenal

They may only be able to sign one big name in 2022, and if Arsenal prioritise central midfield, then a budget option will be needed up front. Who could they sign?

All of these signings would be somewhat of a risk, but if Arsenal can't afford a more well-known name, then these will be ideal targets.

Mohamed Bayo

Starting in Ligue 1, and Clermont Foot's star man Mohamed Bayo. The Guinea international, who has been at the African Cup of Nations, progressed through the Clermont academy, and was crucial in their Ligue 2 promotion campaign last year.

Stepping up to the top flight for the first time hasn't been a problem for Bayo either, who has registered nine goals and two assists in 17 games.

In the top 15% for forward in Europe's top five leagues for non-penalty goals, Bayo is someone who can do it all; he can run the channels, act as a hold-up man from time-to-time, while his instincts inside the box are excellent.

While his progressive passing number don't align with Lacazette's, Bayo is just as efficient a creator, so the Frenchman's ability to drop deep and allow the likes of Bukayo Saka and the aforementioned Martinelli to stay high wouldn't be sorely missed.

It's his first year of top flight football, but the early signs are very encouraging.

Arthur Cabral

Arsenal would have to move extremely fast on this one as it seems as though Arthur Cabral is set to join Fiorentina as Vlahovic's replacement.

If they can halt that move, however, they'd be getting a quality player. Cabral has netted 19 goals in 25 games this season, and is ready to better his goal tally of 20 from last campaign.

Now 23 years old, it's time for Cabral to leave Basel, and Arsenal could take a gamble on a player inexperienced in a top league in an attempt to get ahead of the curve.

Fiorentina identified Vlahovic before anyone else, so a similar story could be about to unfold if Arsenal don't swoop, which is something they could come to regret in a few years time.

Taiwo Awoniyi

Sold by Liverpool for just £6.5m last summer, the Reds will surely already regret that decision.

Despite being signed back in 2015, Taiwo Awoniyi never played for Jurgen Klopp's side, due to a work permit situation, and he was eventually sold to Union Berlin after seven loan spells.

This year, Awoniyi has been Union's go-to man, firing them to fourth place in the Bundesliga with nine goals in 16 league starts.

A competent dribbler and someone with aerial threat, Awoniyi is more than just a goal-scorer, but his positional sense is remarkable.

Despite the fact that Unuion have had more possession than their opponents in just four games this season, Awoniyi is still in the top five percent of strikers of non-penalty expected goals per 90. In essence, he's truly elite at getting in the right areas, something Arsenal need desperately.

Deniz Undav

A slightly more rogue shout, but Arsenal could choose a left-field option in Deniz Undav. The Union Saint-Gilloise forward has netted 18 goals in the Belgian top flight this campaign, as his side sit top of the table.

He's the division's top scorer, and somewhat of an unknown quantity. Having played in the German third tier before joining Saint-Gilloise this is a serious wildcard suggestion, but 18 goals isn't a record to be sniffed at, especially as he netted 17 last term.

It's worth remembering that Victor Osimhen was signed by Lille after a promising season in Belgium, and when he's fit he's one of the best forward in Europe, a fact that was the case before he even joined Napoli.

Giovanni Simeone

Now, Hellas Verona do have an option to buy Giovanni Simeone once his loan spell ends, but there's still time for another club to come in for him.

With 12 goals in 18 league starts this season he's found form at the perfect time in his career. Simeone is now 26, and a move to a big club feels like it's now or never.

Known primarily for his famous father until this year, Simeone is putting things right on the pitch, and he's been one of Serie A's eye-catching performers this campaign.

Arsenal could be the next step in his development, if the Gunners are prepared to do business with both Cagliari, who he's contracted to, and Hellas Verona, the club he's on loan at currently.

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