Have you heard Arsenal needs a new forward this summer? In fact, they need two. Folarin Balogun would like to make his case for sticking with the senior team next season, but he won’t be their #1 or even #2 if Arsenal approach this summer window the way they did the last one. There is still a chance (5-20%) that Lacazette sticks around for an extra year, but does he want to be the backup to whomever Arsenal brings in this summer? He would still likely get a lot of starts in the Premier League, Cups, and/or Champions League Group Stage matches, so maybe it’s worth it for him.
Either way, Arteta is looking for the forward (or forwards) for the next two, three, four years as he continues rebuilding Arsenal into a top-four club. You may have also heard that this season hasn’t been ideal for Marcus Rashford and Manchester United. This brings us to the transfer target of the day. Could the England international be the right gamble for Arsenal to spend big again this summer?
Player: Marcus Rashford, 24
Current Club: Manchester United. He joined United’s academy at age eight working his way up to the U18s before moving on to the senior squad in 2016. Since that point, he has played in nearly 300 matches for Manchester United scoring 93 goals and providing 58 assists. He missed the start of this season with a shoulder injury and has recently seen his minutes and performances diminishing with rumors now circulating that the player and club may be ready for a summer exit.
International: Rashford debuted in 2016 for the senior England national team before he had played for their U21 side. He started and scored on his international debut. Since then he’s made 46 appearances for England scoring 12 times. Much like at Manchester United, Rashford has seen his minutes and impact for the national side faltering, used only as a sub in the Euros this past summer and failing to score during the tournament.
Position(s): He has split his club career at center forward (120 times), on the left-wing (146), or on the right (38). For Arsenal’s purposes, he would be looked at as the single forward up top. With Bukayo Saka, Gabriel Martinelli, Emile Smith Rowe, Pepe and numerous U23 players who may breakthrough over the next two seasons Arsenal’s primary need is up top and that is where Rashford himself would probably prefer a fresh start. That flexibility would be useful though as the Gunners look to bring in multiple striker options.
Potential Price: While Transfermarkt has Rashford value around $94 million, it’s doubtful United will be able to get that for him this summer. Reports indicate the club is looking for $75-80 million, but Arsenal would probably not be willing to go that high for a player out of form and out of favor at his club. If this trend continues through the end of the season, United will have to adjust their asking price this summer or elect to force Rashford to stay.
Arsenal Positional Depth:
- With both Alexandre Lacazette and Eddie Nketiah’s contracts expiring this summer, Arsenal does not have any senior forwards at the club.
- Gabriel Martinelli - (20, 1A or 1B at the left-wing position, contract runs through 2024)
- Folarin Balogun - (20, currently on loan at Middlesbrough, contract runs through 2025)
- U23s - Tyreece John-Jules (21), Mika Biereth (19) & Nikolaj Möller (19).
Arsenal Need: High. This is easily Arsenal’s top priority heading into the summer. The club needs to sign two senior forwards. Whether that ends up being two additions or Lacazette on a 1-year deal plus one new player remains to be seen. Ideally, back in Europe next season, the Gunners squad features three senior strikers, with Balogun returning to round out that trio.
Final Verdict: A huge gamble. On one side, Arsenal splurges $60-80 million on Rashford. He fits into Arteta’s young player model and becomes the club’s top center forward. He builds a connection with England teammates Saka and Smith Rowe that gives Arsenal the full attack that has been lacking at times this year. That trio along with Martinelli, Odegaard, and a few additions sends Arsenal challenging for the Premier League and comfortably in the Champions League.
On the flip side, they spend most of their summer budget on Rashford, his form fails to turn around, and Arsenal is stuck with a high-wage struggling forward. Other potential options move on to other clubs and Arteta’s side is continually stuck in the 4-6th battle. It’s a toss-up at this point, but given the player does fit Arteta’s model and that Rashford wants out at United this move is a possibility. Perhaps Arsenal can reverse the past (Van Persie), sign a Manchester United forward (Rashford) and win the Premier League. One can dream.