Raheem Sterling – The Realistic
Like Theo Walcott, Raheem Sterling’s contract has just 15 months left to run, and like Theo, it is looking more and more unlikely that he will sign. There will be a queue of clubs lining up to sign him. From Manchester City to Chelsea, Real Madrid to Barcelona. He is the sort of talent that would attract the top clubs. And for Arsenal, there might be no better replacement for Theo Walcott.
He not only has the raw pace that Walcott possess, but also the ability on the ball and technique that Walcott does not. He is able to beat a man with skill as well as pace, and also has an eye for the pass. Imagine him one side, Alexis Sanchez the other, with Mesut Ozil feeding both. It is enough to make your mouth water.
He has no loyalty to Liverpool. He emigrated from Jamaica to London at the age of 5, and joined Liverpool at 15. He is more of a London Lad than a Scouser, so a move back to the capital would be ideal for him.
Recently he has lost a bit of form, but this is more due to Brendan Rodgers playing him upfront and at right wing back, than anything else. Played in his natural position, as one of the 3 behind the striker, he is class.
In 2014, he won the Golden Boy award as the best U21 player in Europe. He only turned 20 in December.
Having already hit double figures for goals in back to back seasons, he is a talent and will only get better. Yes, there have previously been rumours about baggage in his private life, but these seem to have died down over the last 2 years, and he has let himself do the talking.
Swapping Walcott for Sterling would be a great move. Arsenal would be getting a player 6 years younger who will only get better. With Sterling’s contract situation, a deal could be done for fairly cheap.
Potential cost: £20million OR swap for Theo Walcott
Marco Reus – The Long Term Target
Rumours were abound last season that Marco Reus was a deal that was near to competition. When visiting Lukas Podolski in London, Reus had been given a tour of the Arsenal training ground. Whilst it was a ‘friendly’ visit, escorted around by his compatriot, we can be sure that Arsenal used the opportunity to put out the red carpet.
A deal would likely have happened last season, but his injury in June scuppered the deal – Reus had his tour of the Arsenal training ground in May. Arsenal ended up buying Alexis Sanchez instead – a deal which would not have happened had Arsenal got Reus.
Since then, Reus has signed a new contract with Borussia Dortmund, removing the £20m release clause from his contract. However, with Dortmund out of the running for Champions League football, Reus is almost certain to leave Dortmund this summer.
The big concern would be his injury record. Since that injury last summer, he has ruptured his ankle ligaments and torn his ankle ligaments. He has missed 14 games this season through injury.
He is a class player with a lot of ability and would be able to provide the goals from midfield that Walcott previously have, but it would be a bit of a risk with his recent injury record. He has been fit since January, so if he remains so till the end of the season, Arsenal could relight their interest.
Potential cost: £40m
Gareth Bale – The Dream
Tottenham have a special relationship with Real Madrid. They sell them their best players (Luca Modric & Gareth Bale) and get nothing in return. Meanwhile, Arsenal sign Mesut Ozil from Real Madrid. Could this special relationship between Spurs and Madrid result in Bale joining Arsenal after 2 turbulent seasons in Madrid?
Bale’s talent is unquestionable. He is a brilliant player. In the summer, he will be 26, just entering his peak. But for some reason, the Madrid faithful have not taken to him. He is the Real Madrid Gervinho. The man who gets blamed for everything.
Despite his ‘poor form’ he has still scored 38 goals for Real Madrid in less than 2 seasons. His performance for Wales against Israel shows that he is a world class player.
Real Madrid always look to make a marquee signing every summer, but what it often means is as one comes in, one leaves.
To make space for Bale, Ozil left. To make space for James Rodriguez, Angel di Maria left. With Real Madrid potentially facing a transfer ban, they will again be looking for a marquee signing this summer. Only 3 players would possibly leave – Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema or Gareth Bale.
Ronaldo is the darling of the Bernabeu. He is unlikely to leave. However at 30, Madrid might be tempted to cash in on him if someone offers £80m+.
Benzema has constantly been rumoured with a move away from Madrid. He is a good striker, but not a World Class one. Madrid have always felt they can do better. However, is there better out their? Benzema will only leave if the new marquee signing is a striker. Falcao has long been rumoured with a return to Spain, but his poor form for Manchester United rules him out. Aguero another one who might make the big money move. But in reality, there is not much when it comes to World Class striking talents around Europe. The likelihood is that Madrid will stick with Benzema than twist.
And that leaves Bale. Madrid would only be tempted to sell if they recouped what they paid for him, and his £300,000 a week wages could be a sticking point, but Arsenal are now cash rich. The transfer fee is affordable, and the majority wages would come from the saving Arsenal would make by shifting Lukas Podolski and Theo Walcott out, with the rest made up of image rights.
It is a deal that, whilst unlikely and a bit of a pipe dream, could happen.
Potential cost: £80m
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain – The Existing
Arsenal may well already have the replacement for Theo Walcott in their ranks, in Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. Just 21, it is time for him to take the step up, and Theo Walcott departing could give him that opportunity.
He had already kept Theo Walcott out of the Arsenal team, and many fans will point to him being the better place. Maybe not as quick as Walcott, but, like Sterling, he has more ability on the ball and better technique. He needs to add goals to his game and become a bit more consistent. He also needs to remain fit.
Add in Danny Welbeck and the returning Serge Gnabry, Arsenal could be tempted to lose Walcott, and not replace him, afterall, he has barely played for 2 years anyway.
Rather than investing the money on Walcott’s replacement on another winger, this cash could go towards other positions – keeper, defensive midfielder, striker – and Arsenal could give Oxlade-Chamberlain the chance to step up.
It would be disappointing not to replace Walcott, but Arsenal certainly have the numbers already in the squad to provide the replacement, even if none of them are not yet of the requisite quality.
Potential cost: £0
Felipe Anderson – The Unknown
The 21 year old Brazilian, currently at Lazio, is a talent.
He joined Lazio for €8million in 2013 and, after a non-eventful first season, he has really developed into a top player this season, with 10 goals in 24 appearances, all of which have come in his last 13 games. He has also created 6 goals for his team mates.
Right footed, he usually plays on the left wing, however his best performances have been on the right wing. Quick and a very good dribbler, like many Brazilian’s, he also has a trick. He also has the physical attributes to compete in the Premier League. After his recent form, he has started to be talked about a bit more, recently being linked to both Manchester City and Chelsea.
If I was to describe him simply, it would be as a ‘Budget Neymar’. This is by no means a criticism, more that he plays in a similar manner to Neymar, is a similar age, and played alongside him at Santos, but is not quite as good. Afterall, Neymar is one of the best players in world football.
The main sticking point is that he reportedly signed a new contract with Lazio on Wednesday, tying him to the club until 2020. Contracts mean nothing in the modern game.
Before his renewal, he was on just £10,000 a week. His new contract would have given him a pay rise and removed a release clause from his contract. It is potentially the usual scenario, a player signing a new contract to ensure his club gets the best possible deal for him when selling in the summer.
Lazio just could not compete if Arsenal came in with a big contract offer for the Brazilian.
Potential cost: £20-30m
Let us know if there are any other potential Walcott replacements in the comments below.