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Building The Arsenal: Now, Summer 2019 & the Future - Forwards

Examining Arsenal’s striker position.

Leicester City v Arsenal FC - Premier League Photo by Marc Atkins/Getty Images

Welcome to the seventh and final position review of the ‘Building The Arsenal’ series, taking a look at the current depth chart and contract situations for each of the players at a particular position. I’ll attempt to project each player’s individual future, and the club’s objectives during this summer transfer window this summer. In this final piece, I’ll look at the striker situation at Arsenal.

Previously: Goalkeeper | Right Back | Left Back | Center Back | Center Midfielder | Attacking Midfielder

There are a lot of effective types of forwards out there: poachers, pacy strikers who prefer to play into space, guys who hold up play, aerial targets. While all can be useful, you only get the best of out of them if they are playing in the right system. After a season with Unai Emery, it isn’t clear what his system is, or specifically what he wants from his strikers and how he is trying to build a formation leading up to that attack. Let’s dive into the depth chart this season, where things stand right now, and what we might see this summer in the transfer window.

Depth Chart (2018/19 Season)

  • Starters: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (29 years old, £67.5 million) & Alexandre Lacazette (28 years old, £58.5 million)
  • Backups: Danny Welbeck (28 years old, £13.5 million) & Eddie Nketiah (20 years old, N/A)
  • Future Prospects/Depth: Takuma Asano (24 years old, £1.5 million) & Tyreece John-Jules (18 years old, N/A)

*Transfer values taken from Transfermrkt - Arsenal.

Burnley FC v Arsenal FC - Premier League Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Contract Situation

  • Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang - Under contract through June 2021.
  • Alexandre Lacazette - Under contract through June 2022.
  • Danny Welbeck - Leaving on a free this summer.
  • Eddie Nketiah - Extended his contract in late 2017, but the specific length was not revealed.
  • Takuma Asano - Under contract through June 2020.
  • Tyreece John-Jules - Signed his first professional contract with Arsenal in February 2018, but the specific length was not revealed.

Objectives for Summer 2019 Transfer Window

  • Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang - There are links for a summer move away, and they will continue all summer, but it’s very unlikely Arsenal will part with their Golden Boot winner with other areas of the team to improve. With two years left on Auba’s contract, the club should look to sell him next summer and bring in a younger striker.
  • Alexandre Lacazette - Much of the above applies to Lacazette as well. However, if any major European club offers a massive sum, it should not be surprising to see the club part with either of them. Funds are needed, the contract and age profile of the club will be improvemed over the next few years, and given the right amount, either’s contributions may well be sacrificed in the name of a squad rebuild.
  • Danny Welbeck - Learn. Eventually someone, at someone level, at Arsenal will learn to sell players before they walk away for nothing.
  • Eddie Nketiah - Loan out. He needs regular reps at the senior level to continue his development and to define his usefulness to Arsenal over the next few seasons.
  • Takuma Asano - Sell. Has never appeared for Arsenal and failed to score a goal at Hannover 96 this past season in the Bundesliga. Take what you can get for him and move on from yet another puzzling investment that didn’t pan out.
  • Tyreece John-Jules - No contract action. Continues to start for U23s and takes over Nketiah’s role as the 4th striker to start the year. Used only in emergency needs for primary competitions and bench appearances early on during the Cup competitions.
  • New Signing - At least one new striker will be signed, mainly to replace Welbeck’s role. If neither of Auba or Laca is likely to move, Arsenal should aim young, knowing the player won’t be expected to be a main contributor in year one. They should be looking for someone who has a high ceiling, but is slightly off the radar for most of the fan base.
Burnley FC v Arsenal FC - Premier League Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Projected 2019/20 Depth Chart

Lots of rumors, but in my opinion, neither striker exits the Emirates this summer. Emery and his striker pair give it another season, hoping to find the right formation and tactics around them, while focusing on improving the defense.

  • Starters: Aubameyang & Lacazette
  • Backups: New Signing & John-Jules
  • Future Prospects: Nketiah (on loan)

Unless either of the player pushes for an exit, it is hard to see the club signing more than one forward. John-Jules is untested, but wouldn’t be called on often, and playing that role for Arsenal and allowing Nketiah to get regular reps in the Championship or League One.

Would you be okay with another season of Aubameyang and Lacazette, or are you looking for a switch up in the front line?