Arsenal will be in the market for strikers this summer, with both Alexandre Lacazette and Eddie Nketiah out of contract, and the club have identified their primary targets
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Arsenal have drawn up a four-man striker shortlist in the event that both Alexandre Lacazette and Eddie Nketiah leave this summer.
As things stand, Lacazette and Nketiah are out of contract with the Gunners and poised to leave the club when their deals expire on July 1. That is not a scenario which Mikel Arteta wants, however, with the Arsenal manager leading a charm offensive to try and get Nketiah to sign a new, more lucrative contract.
Having endured a difficult campaign spent mainly on the substitutes’ bench, Nketiah has taken centre stage over the past few weeks. The 22-year-old hadn’t started a Premier League game this season until the trip to Southampton on April 16, but has been in Arteta’s starting line-up ever since.
Nketiah has scored four goals in those five games to underline his worth and prompt his club to pull out all the stops to prevent him joining a rival Premier League side on a free transfer this summer. The Mirror understands that he has six Premier League teams interested, as well as two major European sides.
Arsenal are ready to pull out all the stops and boost Nketiah’s wages significantly to ensure they have to start from scratch in recruitment for their attack this summer. With Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang having left for Barcelona in January and Lacazette now looking likely to depart too after being sidelined by Nketiah, Arsenal are facing a busy summer transfer window.
If they keep hold of Nketiah they would only move for one striker in the transfer window, with Manchester City ’s Gabriel Jesus the primary target as things stand. Jesus has 13 goals and nine assists in 39 appearances for City this season but faces an uncertain future at the club. The Brazilian’s existing contract expires in June 2023 and Erling Haaland ’s arrival from Borussia Dortmund could convince him that now is the time to move on.
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Arteta worked with the 25-year-old during his time as Pep Guardiola’s assistant and Arsenal sporting director Edu has been in contact with Jesus’ representatives for some time. Jesus, who joined City from Palmerias for £27million in 2016, will likely have other offers on the table however.
Arsenal have not placed all of their eggs in one basket and have also looked at Everton ’s Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Aston Villa’s Ollie Watkins and Benfica striker Darwin Nunez. Everton would be reluctant to sell Calvert-Lewin, who has been hampered by injuries this season, but relegation to the Championship could force their hand. Frank Lampard’s side are currently in 16th place, a point clear of trouble with a game in hand.
Watkins, who is under contract until June 2025, has been a regular for Villa this season and has 10 goals and one assist in 32 Premier League games. His form has seen him become a regular in Gareth Southgate’s England squads over the past year.
Nunez, meanwhile, is attracting a lot of attention due to his tally of 32 goals and four assists in 39 games for Benfica this season. The Mirror understands that the 22-year-old is keen on a move to the Premier League but will prioritise Champions League clubs. Bayern Munich and Atletico Madrid are keeping tabs on him, although the £130m buy-out clause in his Benfica contract, which runs to June 2025, could slow down any movement.