Frenchman has now decided to go against his previous inclination and enter the market for a new forward this month.
Premier League leaders Arsenal have drawn up a five-man striking short list now that the January transfer window has finally opened again for business for the season as head coach Arsene Wenger prepares to add more strength in depth to the north London club’s forward line for the second half of the campaign.
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The Gunners have recently been hit by a spate of untimely injuries to a number of key attacking players that have now forced the Frenchman to go against his long-held beliefs and instead sign a new front man this month.
Previously, with Arsenal riding high in the Premier League as the club reached the halfway point of the season, and having also managed to qualify from their group of death in the Uefa Champions League, the word coming out of the Emirates was that Wenger was more than happy with the marksmen that he had at his disposal, especially with in-form France international Olivier Giroud demonstrating impressive form in front of goal in the first half of the campaign.
However, with Giroud having picked up an ankle injury in Arsenal’s win against Newcastle United at St James’ Park and now both back-up striker Nicklas Bendtner and Englishman Theo Walcott also having been ruled out of action for long periods, Wenger has been forced to rethink his plans for the winter transfer window.
It is believed though that the veteran trainer’s preferred option is to sign a support forward only on a temporary basis until the end of this season, with Real Madrid’s Spain Under-21 international Alvaro Morata his first choice.
But Arsenal’s hopes of being able to persuade the La Liga giants to loan them the young attacker for six months appear slim at best after los Blancos boss Carlo Ancelotti confirmed that the Spaniards would not be allowing any of their players to depart the Santiago Bernabeu this month, either on a temporary or a permanent basis.
And so despite the Gunners having made contact with Madrid on Tuesday to discuss the possibility of landing Morata, Wenger has already started to switch his focus to alternative, permanent, targets, with four players said to be interesting the 64-year-old: FC Porto’s Jackson Martinez, Rubin Kazan’s Salomon Rondon, Lille’s Salomon Kalou and Atletico de Madrid’s Diego Costa.
However, of that quartet, Costa has a reported buyout clause in his contract at the Vincente Calderon worth a whopping £32m, while Atleti have also recently indicated that their star man would not be leaving the Spanish capital in January with the club still challenging for both this season’s La Liga title and the Uefa Champions League as well.
Meanwhile Colombia international Martinez is available to buy following the Portuguese champions’ surprise early elimination from Europe’s premier club competition at the group stage, although again, the striker will not be cheap to purchase this month, with a release clause valued at £33.32m in his own deal at the Dragao.
All of which leaves either the former Chelsea forward Kalou, with the experienced Ivorian understood to be desperate to return to the Premier League in January just 18 months after he quit the Blues for Lille, and with a reported trigger clause of just £2.5m, the 28-year-old would be much more in Arsenal’s price range.
Or the Gunners could try and hijack north-London rivals Tottenham Hotspur’s own planned move for Venezuela attacker Rondon, with the 24-year-old – who has a contract with the Russian giants that runs until until June 2016 – having registered 12 goals and one assist in total in his 20 matches in all competitions for both club and country so far in this campaign.
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