Here is a table of the top four strikers that Arsenal have been linked with along with our current striker, Olivier Giroud. The only player of the four potential signings on here who I absolutely don’t want is Jovetic. His 13 goals and 5 assists is the lowest among the five players here despite starting the second most games. Additionally, he is the most creative player on the team so he should have more to show for it. Nothing else across his stat line suggests that he is anything more than a decent player who belongs at a mid-level club. With 8.7 shots-per-goal, there is no reason to expect that he would score more if he was playing as the central striker for Arsenal and his passing percentage, key passes, and total number of passes are all much too low for someone who is supposed to be the creative hub of his team. And although he has 2 successful dribbles per game, he is also dispossessed twice per game, suggesting that he is not a particularly good dribbler. At 23, he should already be producing at a higher level than this if he is going to become a super star.
Benteke is an interesting prospect. Before Aston Villa signed him, he was relatively unknown despite producing a relatively good season for Genk (16 goals in 36 appearances as a 19 year-old). He actually struggled for the first half of the season—something that tends to go unmentioned—scoring only 6 times in his first 19 games. He caught fire after the turn of the year, though, and scored 15 goals in 18 appearances from January onwards. Strangely enough, he did the same thing in his only season at Genk, scoring just twice in the first 16 games while scoring 14 goals in 20 appearances to end the year. In his seasons at Genk and Villa, he didn’t make the transfer until after the season had begun which could explain why it took him half a season to get into form, but it’s also a potentially troubling statistic. One of the reasons I was glad that Arsenal didn’t sign Ba is that he had never produced for more than half a season, regardless of what club he was at. It’s too early to tell if that’s the case with Benteke, but it’s certainly plausible.
His other statistics are impressive, especially for a 22 year old in his first season in one of the best leagues in the world. He has a good shots-per-goal ratio and remarkably high key passes for a traditional center forward. He has the highest dispossession and turnover rate among all players and his passing percentage wasn’t incredible, but those are things that could change with maturity. Additionally, it’s common to see players who are by far the best player on their team have high dispossession and turnover rates as a result of them being the focal point of most attacks. My only real issue with the potential signing of Benteke is how many unknowns there are. Can he keep up this production for a whole season? Will his passing and turnover rate improve? Is he a mercenary who simply wants money (Arsenal would be his fourth team in as many seasons)? Can he play in a team where he is not the star? How would he handle being benched/rested?
David Villa is the only player being considered who is above 25, and although it strikes me as unlikely that Wenger would sign a 31 year-old, there are a several more reasons why he shouldn’t be signed. He is the definition of a poacher with a good shots-per-goal rate, a decent number of assists, and not much else. His passing numbers are low and his dribbling numbers are non-existent. At 31, he would almost certainly be a back-up to Giroud, a player who can come on and score from his first chance. His experience would add something, but Arsenal already has two poachers in Podolski and Walcott, and both offer more than Villa in every other aspect of their game. Villa would have been a dream signing 4 years ago, but now he would be a waste of money.
Gonzalo Higuain is the player that I would most like to see in the red and white. 17 goals in 25 starts is a very good return for a player who isn’t first choice at his club, and he also managed to add on 7 assists. His shots-per-goal ratio of 3.8 is better than Falcao’s, Cavani’s, van Perise’s, and Ibrahimovic’s. In fact, I can’t find a striker who has a better shots-per-goal ratio while still playing an equal number of games. He has a low number of passes, but that would increase if he was starting every game instead of coming on as a sub so much, and his pass percentage is decent, if not other-worldly. His career goals-per-game at Real Madrid is 102 in 188, and he hasn’t scored less than a goal every other game since the 2007-08 season. And who doesn’t want a player who is capable of scoring goals like this?
All in all, I would be happy with Benteke or Higuain, but I would prefer Higuain. He is a proven goal scorer in his prime who, when he was starting every game for Madrid and Argentina, has scored more than 30 in a season. And if Arsenal signed him to the ubiquitous four year deal, they could either sell him at 28 for a profit/what they paid for him, or keep him through his prime. Pull out the chequebook, Monsieur Wenger. He’ll be cheaper than he normally would be because he wants to leave, and the oil-money teams are too busy trying to seduce Cavani.