It seems almost inevitable that Theo Walcott will leave Arsenal. It’s a bitter pill to swallow, but one that Arsenal fans should be prepared for. I haven’t given up hope on Theo, but silence from club and player on the matter certainly doesn’t give me any encouragement. If Theo’s going to leave, January should be his only chance. He’s far too talented to lose on a free. Since we’re on the lookout for a striker in the winter, why not add a winger? It’ll save us the pain of losing yet another great player to a team we don’t want to sell to. I hope Theo stays here to become an Arsenal legend, but if not, here are 3 players who are capable of replacing him.
1. Hatem Ben Arfa
Before AW signed Samir Nasri, he had a shot at Hatem Ben Arfa as well. Unfortunately for us, he chose Nasri. Now that the SS £ has sailed, we’re left without a versatile winger/false 9. Arsène went and bought to Gervinho to fill Nasri’s role, yet despite the Ivorian’s best efforts, he has yet to convince for period of time. He may be our top scorer, but he’s not worth the frustration to play as a striker, especially when Giroud offers more to the team. What we need is a winger with an eye for a pass, one who can take on a man and actually beat him. without taking 30 touches first, in doing so killing momentum. Enter Ben Arfa.
In a slightly deeper RM to Theo’s RM position, Ben Arfa has started 7 times, notching 2 goals and 1 assist so far in this campaign. He may be considered a ball hog, averaging just under 5 complete dribbles per match, but he makes things happen. Like Theo, he uses his pace and ball control to draw a defender out of position, but the difference is, he knows the perfect time to release the ball. Often you’ll see Ben Arfa get the ball, beat a man, look up, and launch the ball up the pitch, seemingly to no one, that is until the camera pans to Demba Ba, who’s closing in on goal thanks to a perfectly weighted long ball from the Frenchman. An exciting player to say the least, and at 25, he’s on the cusp of his physical peak.
Projected Price: £15-20million
2. Andre Schürrle
A player heavily courted by Chelsea in the summer, Andre Schürrle’s name has been on the lips of top clubs for a while now. His profile was raised due to a good showing in Euro 2012, where he impressed on the left-wing. If you’re not familiar with Schürrle, think of him as Podolski; a player who’s natural position is CF, but is also capable, but sometimes less effective, on the wing. While Andre hasn’t been on great form since the start of the season (9 apps, 1 goal 2 assists), his form shouldn’t overshadow his ability. He kills two birds with one stone, being able to play two positions in which we need extra personnel, and he would fit right into our growing German armada. The biggest obstacle is Bayern Leverkusen, who are keen to hold on to him for as long as possible. They won’t let him go cheaply, but don’t be surprised if Arsène snags him for under £20million should he look into his signature.
Projected Price: £18million
3. Thomas Muller
By far the most prolific player on the list, Thomas Muller is has been in inspired form this year, scoring 7 times and notching 5 assists in 11 appearances. Muller has had his issues with Bayern in the past, but they hinge on his involvement on the pitch, not off it, which is a good sign. He’s a winger with a striker’s mentality, averaging just under 3 shots per game this season, and 2.3 complete dribbles per match. He’s a versatile tool at Bayern’s disposal. He wouldn’t come cheap, but the best players often don’t. If Arsène were to pursue this deal, he’d break the bank for sure. It would take more than a starting spot to entire Muller to leave his boyhood club.
Projected Price: £25million+
While they not be the easiest deals to make, they’re some of the best for the Arsenal should Theo choose to leave. Obviously, the best possible outcome of this saga is Theo staying with the Gunners, but should he choose to leave, there’s no shortage of options to fill the whole he leaves.