Yesterday, Arsenal were linked with both Riyad Mahrez and Raheem Sterling.
Despite running away with the Premier League, Pep Guardiola apparently wants to refresh his frontline, with his side scoring their least amount of goals in 5 years and 19 league goals less than last season.
Sergio Aguero is already set to leave, with Harry Kane likely to come in to replace him. But it seems Pepe is also looking at who is behind the front man. In recent days Man City have been linked with a huge deal for Jack Grealish.
With Phil Foden and Bernard Silva, it would mean that one of Mahrez or Sterling would likely have to leave to create the squad space for a new attacked.
So for now, the Arsenal links to both can go in the box of “this is just Man City using Arsenal to let the world know that both men are available”. But we should also have a conversation over whether we should sign either player.
Raham Sterling has had a tough season for Manchester City.
It perhaps shows the heights of his previous seasons that 10 goals and 7 assists is considered a failure, with some going as far as claiming he should not be in the England squad for the Euro’s.
When you look at England’s other wide options, only Marcus Rashford (11 goals, 7 assists) had out performed him.
10 league goals would have made Sterling Arsenal’s 2nd top scorer, and 7 assists our most creative player.
It always has to be remembered with Sterling as well that he is not a dead ball taker. So all of his goals and assists come from open play.
Nicholas Pepe (10 goals, 1 assist) and Bukayo Saka (5 goals, 3 assists) are both a country mile behind Sterling.
Although you do then have to throw in the caveat that Arsenal have been awful this season whilst Sterling plays in a much better team.
What is certain is Arsenal need more creativity, extra options out wide.
As it stands, we only have two proper wide men – Saka and Pepe. The rest are round pegs in square holes.
If anyone thinks playing Sterling on the left would not automatically improve us, they need to give their head a wobble.
Sterling left, Saka or Pepe right. Instant improvement.
Whilst Stelring’s form has dipped, it might be a case of he just needs a new challenge.
You feel with his character, he is at his best when he feels he has something to prove. That then gives his game a little more spike. More agression.
Being “dumped” by Manchester City could re-motivate him. And at 26-years-old he has plenty of years left in the tank.
If Sterling is on the market, Arsenal should make him their primary target.
It perharps show how big perception is in football that whilst Sterling has been criticised, Riyad Mahrez has been labelled as one of Manchester City’s best players this season. This despite him getting less league goals and assists than the Englishman.
I have seen some go as far as comparing Mahrez to Neymar this season. This is surely just an attention seeking exercise, hoping to wind up the Neymar fanboys; rather than a real opinion?
Mahrez is a quality player and was close to joining Arsenal in 2016 from Leicester City.
Leicester blocked the deal and two seasons later he joined Manchester City.
Mahrez has never really been a regular starter for Man City – this seasons 23 league starts the most in his career for them.
Despite his obvious qualities, Arsenal should not pursue Mahrez.
On the right hand side, we already have Pepe and Saka as “inverted” options.
Whilst Mahrez is the level above the pair, he is also 4 years older than Pepe and 11 years older than Saka.
Taking into account Arsenal’s financial restraints this summer, it would not make sense to sign Mahrez for big money when the right hand side is covered.
I am sure if Pepe was playing in the Manchester City side, his statistics would be not too dissimilar to Mahrez; whilst Saka is clearly a star for the present and will only get better.
Mahrez also turns 31 in January, so we would be signing him knowing we might only get another 2 or 3 good seasons out of him. and any future transfer fee would be miniscule.
Instead of signing Mahrez, lets continue with Pepe and Saka.
One finished the season in great form, the other is only going to get better.
So in summary, it is an easy equation.
If it is a choice between sterling and Mahrez, the Englishman is streets ahead.
Sterling has outperformed Mahrez during their time together for City, is 4 years younger and solves our left hand side attacking issue.
Having Sterling, Pepe and Saka gives us more options than Mahrez, Pepe and Saka.
I am sure many will disagree. Enjoy your Bank Holiday weekend. Put the phones down. Go outside. Get some sunshine.