Is Falcao Arsenal’s Final Step?


First Mesut Ozil, a coup by most accounts. Then Alexis Sanchez, exciting and bristling with energy. And now, possibly, Radamel Falcao, one of the best goalscorers in Europe. Arsene Wenger was coy after Arsenal’s 1-1 draw with Leicester City when he was asked about the possibility of bringing in a new striker. After briefly flitting around the point, Wenger plainly stated that, depending on the available options, they wanted to bring a striker in before the window closed, a deadline that at the time was just over 24 hours away. At the time of writing, it’s now 16 hours away. Radamel Falcao is apparently available and with Real Madrid finalising a loan deal for Manchester United’s Javier Hernandez, the road seems to be largely clear for Arsenal to pounce. Manchester City are being mooted as an alternative destination for the Colombian sniper, but with Negredo, Jovetic, Dzeko and Aguero already on the books, the addition of Falcao would be taking the idea of squad depth to ridiculous new heights (or depths). Maybe the hapless performance of Yaya Sanogo against Leicester will be the nudge that Wenger needs to open the wallet.

Sanogo is not without his virtues. He is tall and strong, is always a willing runner, but despite having a lot of the important physical characteristics that normal starting striker Olivier Giroud also possesses, the 21 year old lacks the arsenal of flicks that Giroud makes such good use of. Yes, Giroud is slow, and will not make his own goals, but he does have the quick feet to lay off inviting balls which attackers like Ramsay and, now, Sanchez can take in stride. Sanogo was muddled against Leicester, he finished poorly and his feet were very messy. He’s like a new-born giraffe, tripping himself up, gangly-legged and wet behind the ears. He will not do as a replacement for the injured Giroud, who will not return to action until next year. One also suspects that playing Sanchez through the middle, or Walcott when he returns, or Podolski, or young Joel Campbell will not suffice either. With any of them as striker, Arsenal’s front line would be a collection of talented, but tiny individuals, with no focal point to batter through deep-lying defences. Leicester comfortably held them at bay on Sunday playing very deeply, with Wes Morgan a stoic, gargantuan presence in the centre of defence. In truth, the Foxes might have won it themselves on the counter attack late in the match.

Falcao is perfect. He is strong, immensely comfortable and powerful on the ball and possesses good pace. He is, as everyone in Europe knows, a deadly finisher, better than Giroud. He would be quite at home in the midsts of the intricate passing moves that Arsenal like to enact around the edge of the box, as well as providing a decent threat in the air (he scored a beautiful header against Arsenal in the pre-season). He would be the charmed third marquee signing for the Gunners.

Reportedly, it would take a £20 million loan fee to bring him to north London. Such a bizarre way of doing business seems to be becoming less and less unusual in world football, what with Liverpool’s strange two year loan agreement for Javi Manquillo and Fernando Torres’s similar arrangement with Milan. A loan would mean Arsenal could work out a suitable wage deal with Falcao, then a fee would likely be agreed upon with Monaco at the end of the season, with this season’s loan fee presumably taken into account.

The stage is set. Manuel Pellegrini was cagey in the extreme when asked about Falcao in a recent press conference, and a deal with City would depend on the injured Negredo leaving the club, reportedly for Valencia. It all seems very complicated there. At Arsenal though, a much clearer avenue is laid out in front of Wenger. What a statement of intent this would be for him, and what a team they would have with Falcao at the summit.

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