There are three certainties in life: death, taxes, and transfer rumors being a non-stop source of content and clicks for anybody and everybody on the football internet. Yes, it’s nearly time for the January transfer window to open up — cue the inevitable deluge of transfer rumors linking pretty much every decent player in Europe with any club that has two shekels to rub together.
It’s common knowledge (or should be) that Arsenal are in the market for a striker. Both Alexandre Lacazette and Eddie Nketiah will not be at the club next season and could be shipped out in the winter window. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang [insert your take here — has lost a step, is in a major scoring slump, etc.] and will be turning 34 and out of contract after next season. Folarin Balogun is better suited to a January loan move than taking over the striker workload at a club aiming for a Champions League place.
Enter Dominic Calvert-Lewin. The Everton striker had a breakout season in 2019-2020, scoring 13 league goals. He backed that up with 16 last season, was rewarded with a spot on the England squad for the Euros, and scored 3 in 3 to open this season. He’s been out since the end of August with a fractured toe and isn’t expected back in action for another three weeks, which makes a January move potentially tricky. He’s 24 (until he’s 25 in March), so he mostly fits the age profile Arsenal seem to be targeting as they overhaul the roster.
Arsenal haven’t traditionally been active in the winter window, but they also hadn’t been the biggest spender in the Premier League until this past summer. Your guess is as good as mine as to what the club might do this January.
The Daily Mail reports that Everton want a transfer fee in the neighborhood of £60M for the 24-year old striker. Current injury aside, that number seems fair, perhaps even on the low end. Then again, I rate DCL. His fbref page tells a slightly different story. The numbers aren’t eye-popping. His top three comps over the last year are Chris Wood, Krzysztof Piatek, and Olivier Giroud — not exactly a murderer’s row of strikers.
Calvert-Lewin compares favorably with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang for both the 2019-20 and 2020-21 seasons in terms of non-penalty expected goals + expected assists per 90 minutes. He’s more of a traditional striker and distinctly better than PEA in the air, but I’m not sure how relevant that is to Mikel Arteta’s system. And like Aubameyang, DCL seems to be a move-ender — a guy who gets the ball to take the chance rather than a forward who participates in the build-up. Neither boast impressive passing numbers, and I think Mikel Arteta’s system wants a better-rounded forward to lead his line.
Bottom line: I think moving for Dominic Calvert-Lewin would be good. Arsenal need a striker for the future. He would be an upgrade on Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and would age / grow with the current roster.
But is “good” enough, especially for £60M? I’m not sure Calvert-Lewin is the best fit for how Mikel Arteta wants to play. I’m holding out hope that the summer links to Lautaro Martinez were more than idle speculation and that the Gunners are back in for him. I think he is a much better match.