Much was made of Arsenal‘s failure to bolster their striking options last month despite being heavily linked with Dusan Vlahovic, Alexander Isak and Jonathan David; the volume of critics only intensifying after the unsavoury, yet inevitable, departure of former captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to Barcelona.
The feeling for many was that the Gunners had left themselves worryingly short of goals heading into the business end of the season, when really they should have been bolstering their firepower to cement a coveted top four finish.
Truth be told, they probably are a little short up top, should the supply line of goals from the likes of Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith Rowe dry up.
However, this is a new Arsenal – one with a long-term plan, committed to biding their time in pursuit of suitable targets who can take the club forward.
Canadian striker David is thought to be one such target, with Arsenal’s interest in signing him as a potential Aubameyang replacement dating back as far as March 2020 – before his falling out with Mikel Arteta amid a myriad of disciplinary issues.
But with Aubameyang already out of the picture, it’s more a question of whether David is the right man to replace another Arsenal striker, Alexandre Lacazette, who is out of contract at the end of the season.
At 22, David certainly fits the mould of recent signings in north London. Indeed, all six of their major signings over the summer – Ben White, Martin Odegaard, Takehiro Tomiyasu, Nuno Tavares, Albert Sambi Lokonga and Aaron Ramsdale – are aged between 21 and 24.
Not only is David right the profile player in terms of age, he’s also somebody who would be invested in on the basis of what he has the potential to become, rather than what he is now – like those half-dozen summer signings.
However, dive a little deeper into what David is currently doing at underachieving Lille, who are a shadow of the side who surprisingly won Ligue 1 last season, and you begin to doubt his suitability for Arsenal.
David currently averages a goal every 2.83 games at Lille – statistically worse than Lacazette – and although the US-born striker has the potential to improve that side of his game, he’s also not as influential in the build-up phase.
In 82 appearances across all competitions, his 29 goals overall have been complemented by just five assists – a worryingly low amount for a striker who would likely need to play with his back to goal at times to suit Arteta’s intricate style of play, bringing others into play.
Again, that could be worked on, but the rumoured £45m fee it would take to prize David away from Lille is surely a stretch for an Arsenal side who need the finished article. A striker like Vlahovic, for example, who clearly has a well-rounded game capable of dominating at the highest level.
Arsenal technical director Edu hinted at the beginning of the season that the next phase of the club’s rebuild would look at bringing in ‘world class’ players, capable of elevating the level of a young and promising group of players.
David, unfortunately, isn’t off that mould, and if the potential of Saka, Smith Rowe and Odegaard is to be fulfilled in Arsenal’s creative midfield areas, the guy up top has got to be the finished article – not somebody needing to work on areas of his own game.
This wouldn’t be the statement signing Arsenal need, nor would David’s arrival be much of an upgrade on Lacazette. The search must go on.
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