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What would Lautaro Martinez bring to Arsenal? (An in-depth player analysis)

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Sometimes in football, clubs can plan strenuously ahead of the transfer window, but until it’s actually underway nobody knows what opportunities may arise.

Especially during the pandemic, the financial situation for certain clubs is changing at a quicker rate than ever, meaning some of football’s giants are having to sell their best players in order to balance the books. The affects coronavirus is having on the game is going beyond what many imagined and in turn it’s created a new volatile market where all clubs are experiencing the ups and downs.

For Arsenal, it appears that an opportunity has developed in the last couple of days which could see them become the beneficiaries of the latest market, as Inter are supposedly ready to listen to suitable offers for star striker Martinez.

The decisive factor behind the deal is the Italians desire to make at least €80 million net profit this window and although they have already sold Achraf Hakimi to Paris Saint-Germain that is thought to be one part of their efforts to slash the running costs by around 20%.

Despite this transfer being far from completed, it’s believed that the player would be open to the move, and therefore begs the question: What would Martinez bring to Arsenal?

When looking at any potential signing, the first aspect which needs to be considered is what areas of their game will improve the team, and how they differ from those already at the club.

One clear attribute which Martinez excels in is attacking aerial situations. Despite being just 5’9, he utilises clever movement in and around the area, in combination with his powerful leap to score goals regularly with his head.

Even though crosses don’t come into the box as frequently ever since Mikel Arteta changed from five at the back to his preferred 4-2-3-1 system, it’s crucial that the striker can adapt to different scenarios within a game, and in the likelihood of Arsenal chasing a goal his aerial prowess will provide another dimension to the attack.

Just last season alone, the 23-year-old scored on four occasions with headers which is just one less than Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette combined, making him far superior in this department compared to Arsenal’s current options.

Another important skill for any striker to possess is the ability to score goals with both feet, as it adds to their unpredictability around the penalty area, and in turn should increase their output due to being more competent in a variety of different positions in front of goal.

Out of Martinez’s 19 strikes in all competitions, three were scored with his left-foot which may not sound like a lot, but the quality of these goals proved he is capable of producing on his weaker foot when required to. Last season there was none better than his effort against Crotone.

With the scores level, the Argentine peeled away from his marker and was fed through on goal by teammate Marcelo Brozovic, in which he set himself with his right foot and dinked the ball over the keeper into the roof of the net with his left. The motion was effortless and demonstrated not only his quality with both feet, but his invention in front of goal as well.

In comparison to Aubameyang and Lacazette, the former didn’t manage any goals with his weak-foot, whereas the latter actually outperformed Martinez with four strikes to his three.

For someone so young, Martinez has been able to hone an impressive skillset, with one of his strongest facets being his dribbling. Undoubtedly, his low centre of gravity and quick feet in constricted spaces play a major factor as to why he’s so effective in this area, and producing some of his best numbers.

Last season he managed 1.32 per game at a success rate of 71%, which shows he’s comfortable with the ball at his feet, and looks to beat a man before performing the decisive action in the opposition’s half.

Looking to turn and run at their marker is an aspect of both Lacazette’s and Aubameyang’s game which they aren’t renowned for, as a result it can make attacks more predictable to defend against, and can be seen by their averages of 1.05 and 0.42 successful dribbles per game respectively.

However, if Arsenal were to gain Martinez’s signature, he would provide them with more variety in the final third and potentially benefit his fellow forwards by dragging opposition defenders out of position.

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On top of his already balanced profile as a striker, there’s more noticeable strengths to his game which could suit the philosophy of Arteta. Often throughout games, Martinez will pull out to the left-hand side to receive the ball, then drive inside to get a shot away.

He showcased this trait on multiple occasions last campaign and more often than not it resulted in either a shot on target or him finding the back of the net. In the likelihood of Martinez playing in a front three with the likes of Nicolas Pepe and Bukayo Saka on each wing, the fact that he has a tendency to drift wide could see them thrive, due to them being able to run into the space vacated.

As Pepe and Saka are capable of playing on either side regardless, it could result in a very fluid front three, with many interchanges across the 90 minutes.

Not only this, but a further asset Martinez has is being able to run in behind defenders, as he can adapt his movement based on how high the opposition line is during the game. If the opponents were playing high, he has the inclination to make out to in runs, in order to exploit the space and give himself an opportunity to get on the scoresheet.

The second aspect when analysing a potential new player is to observe the weaknesses in their game and whether they can be improved significantly.

Nowadays, in order to be classed as a complete forward just putting the ball in the net isn’t enough, as they are expected to contribute to attacks by getting involved with the buildup and linking the midfield to the forwards. For Martinez this is an aspect of his game which has come under question, as although he managed 11 assists last term it doesn’t necessarily mean that his linkup is a speciality.

Across the course of 2020/21, he averaged 19.32 passes per 90 minutes at a completion rate of 71.6%, which suggests that Martinez is a striker that prefers to stay away from the buildup so he can be well positioned for when the ball arrives in the box. If he was to make the move to north London, there’s no doubt that this is an aspect that Arteta would want to improve, as his system is reliant on the centre forward dropping deep to keep the team ticking.

Compared to Aubameyang both his passes completed at 25.33 per 90 and his success rate at 74.8% was better than the Inter striker, adding to the doubts whether Arsenal would have to adapt their system or deploy Martinez in a slightly different role if he was to lead the line.

Another uncertainty surrounding his skillset is how effective he is playing as an alone striker, as ever since his move to Inter in 2018, Martinez went straight into the team while playing in a front two and thrived by having someone to compliment with.

His partnership with Romelu Lukaku worked so effectively due to them both being able to play off each other in the final third, however in the Premier League two striker formations are very rare, therefore Martinez would have to learn the role of a sole centre forward.

The positive for Martinez is that he’s just 23 and at the stage in his career where he is still developing, consequently any flaws can be rectified under the correct management. It may take him a while to get up to speed in this role, but he did gain experience playing there for Argentina at the Copa America in which he scored three goals in six appearances, hence why many think this won’t be a major stumbling block.

So will Martinez make the move over to north London or will Inter find the money to offer him a better contract in the hope of keeping him?

 

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