Let the wild speculation begin again!
The January transfer window will open next Wednesday, as Arsenal tries to close out the Christmas glut of games against the
blue-clad red-clad Bluebirds Dragons of Cardiff City. Rumors have already been swirling, mostly involving shoring up a striker corps that currently includes a legitimate first-teamer, a gangly Dane with an inflated sense of self, a 20-year-old French player returning from injury, and two first-team stalwarts that are better deployed at wing than center forward. With this in mind, here are the names swirling around, with some breakdowns and narratives.
In alphabetical order, here's the latest on some possibilities. (Note: We're going to assume that Lewandowski's off to Bayern in May.)
Currently playing for: Standard Liege (Belgian Pro League)
Pros: Available for around £8M, has scored 12 goals in 17 BPL league matches this year, is 20, is Belgian
Cons: Remains untested at higher levels of play and is currently behind Lukaku and Benteke in the Belgian national team pecking order -- he's yet to get a senior call up
Currently playing for: Atletico Madrid and
Brazil Spain TBD
Pros: In blistering form (23 goals in 23 comps), leading Atletico Madrid to the top of the La Liga table and making fans forget that Falcao let Monaco drive a dumptruck full of money up to his house; just debuted at #35 in Guardian's Top 100 Footballers (putting him in the Top 15 forwards list, just behind Balotelli)
Cons: Like Luis Suarez, Costa's a mercurial player who has a reputation for combativeness and general jackassery. Also, given that he's ditching his native Brazil for the Spanish national team in the year that Brazil's hosting the World Cup, he seems a little mercenary as well
Angel di Maria
Currently playing for: Real Madrid and Argentina
Pros: Creative winger, talented, plays well with Özil
Cons: CL cup-tied, expensive (and with Monaco in the mix, the bidding war could be insane)
The latest: ESPN FC debunked the di Maria-to-Monaco rumors in a report saying di Maria was happy at Real Madrid. It seems more likely that if Arsenal spends this much on a winger, it'd be Draxler in the summer rather than di Maria (or anyone else) now.
Currently playing for: Swansea and sometimes Spain
Pros: Seasoned Premier League player, gifted goal-scorer, not CL-cup tied, has nifty goal celebration
Cons: Will come at about 15 times the £2M price he transferred in for, has only scored 6 goals this year (with only 2 in EPL play) compared to 22 last year, is recovering from a broken ankle
The latest: According to Metro, Arsenal's scuttling plans to bring him to the Emirates in January because his pending surgery will keep him out until mid-February.
Currently playing for: Olympiakos and Greece
Pros: Scoring 1.4 goals per game in his league campaign, a key player in Olympiakos' Champions League run (leading them to a Round of 16 matchup vs. Man United), a key player for Greece in its run to the 2014 World Cup
Cons: CL cup-tied, has reportedly signed a new deal keeping him tied to his Greek club team through 2017 (and removing the appealing £6M transfer fee)
The latest: According to Metro, the new deal with Olympiakos means this option's out.
Currently playing for: Real Madrid and Spain youth teams
Pros: Up-and-coming striker, knows first-hand what through balls from Özil look like, would come on a six-month loan knowing his role, and Spurs want him as well
Cons: Involves doing business with Real Madrid, is CL-cup tied
The latest: As we reported in The Short Fuse at the start of December, this is allegedly a done deal, though it is a transfer window rumor and it involves Real Madrid.
Currently playing for: Barcelona B and Paraguay
Pros: Gifted 17-year-old, revives Fabregas narrative, would allegedly come on a five-year deal.
Cons: Still just 17, could revive Fabregas narrative of shining at Arsenal and then returning to Barcelona.
The latest: Though we relayed reports that this was happening in mid-December, there are now new reports that Roma's going to be the first to meet the £3.6M release clause.
Currently playing for: FC Basel and Switzerland
Pros: Can play center back or right back, has had "eye-catching performances" in recent Champions League matches (including two wins against Chelsea), has a £6M release fee, has an umlaut in his name
Cons: Is CL cup-tied, plus signing a potential starting right back could complicate Sagna negotiations
The latest: He's happy at Basel but is wanted by multiple teams, including United.