The whole of the footballing world know that come June 1st, Arsenal FC will be swiftly into the market for a new striker, and of course the knowledge of our need will push the asking prices up. However, there is one player that the Gunners are rumoured to be interested in, who is raising his value and likely asking price very much on his own. Darwin Nunez headed Benfica into the last 8 of the European Champion’s League, and probably added another £10 million to his summer price tag. Let’s now forget that West Ham had a bid of close to £50m rejected in January.
The winner to knock out Ajax though, was just the latest in a season littered with brilliance and a huge number of goals. His 4th in Europe’s elite took the young Uruguayan’s total to 26 in all competitions, with 20 from 22 matches in the Portuguese top-flight. It is not surprising therefore that a hist of top sides are being linked to the 22-year-old, who is under contract to his club until 2025. If Arsenal are serious, and the age and profile of the player fits Arteta and Edu’s recent planning, then we might find ourselves competing with Barcelona, Man United and Atletico, to name but three.
Assuming Arsenal can continue their recent momentum and claim a top 4 spot and a return to Europe’s top table, what is certain, given recent and planned sales and departures, the likely price and potential wages will not trouble the club. Most media are suggesting a bid of close to £70m and we all know that KSE sanctioned a similar outlay for Vlahovic in January. Certainly, if the Premier League is appealing to an exciting attacking talent, searching for a bigger stage, then London, Arsenal and Arteta presents a compelling argument over Manchester, United and a rudderless ship.
The intriguing element to the links to Nunez, however, is that despite his array of attributes, hold up and link play are not among them. His signing would therefore definitely indicate a change in style for Arsenal, with a 433 more likely, as whilst Nunez may well adapt to a sole striker role, it would not be in the way we are currently utilising club skipper, Lacazette. The Uruguayan’s attributes indeed, are more akin to Martinelli’s than Laca’s and he is more often seen attacking from the left, cutting in on to his right foot. I think it is important to stress here, that Nunez is two-footed though, and excellent attribute for a striker. In fact, his style, his strength, ability to run with the ball at feet, beat players and his use of deft curled finishing, as well as raw power in his strikes, brings to mind more, Thierry Henry, than a conventional sole centre forward.
That said, with the growing creative master, that is Martin Odegaard to find a fast, direct striker, who can time his runs in behind, perhaps now is the time to change direction. One of Nunez’s obvious strengths is finding and attacking open spaces and with Odegaard, as well as Saka, and with, I hope. a new progressive 8 to replace Xhaka, we will have the profile of players to exploit this. The nagging doubt I have is whether, we already have the player for the role, in Gabriel Martinelli, who shares many of the attributes of Nunez, but I will bow to the decision of Arteta and Edu, if we do peruse this deal.
Whilst many of Darwin Nunez’s goals have been cutting in off the left, he does create for himself, something we have lacked, he is very persistent in winning the ball back high up the pitch and he crucially can give us the aerial threat in the box from open play that we have lacked since selling Giroud. Also, despite his impressive goal tally, he is a team player and unselfish, such that his low assist total of only 2 in the league belies his contributions to Benfica’s attacking play.
I have now idea is Arsenal are genuinely interested or if it is simply and obvious link for the papers to make but there is so much about the young successor to Suarez and Cavani to admire. Crucially, at 23 in June, he perfectly fits the profile of player that Arsenal’s new direction last summer has established. 22-24, with an abundance of talent, and ready to be taken to the next level with a coach to believe in. If we are interested then the Mikel Arteta factor could prove decisive, as the Spaniard’s reputation is being recognised by the footballing world.
Anyway, let’s waiting and see how this story unfolds and in the meantime enjoy the skills of Darwin Nunez…..
Passionate fifty-something Arsenal supporter who has been making the journey to N5 regularly since the early 1980s – although his first game was in 1976. Always passionate when talking about The Arsenal, Dave decided to send a guest blog to Gunnersphere in the summer of 2011 and has not stopped writing about the Gunners since.
He set up his own site – 1 Nil Down 2 One Up – in February 2012, which he moved on in 2016 to concentrate on freelance writing and building Gunners Town, which he launched with Paul in 2014.
The objective of GT was to be new and fresh and to give a platform for likeminded passionate Arsenal fans wishing to write about their team. Dave still of course, writes for the site himself and advises the ever-changing writing crew.