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Arsenal keen on “insane” £34m star who could take Saka to the next level

Written by on May 30, 2024

It was another painful case of so close yet so far for Arsenal this season as they took the Premier League title race right up to the final day, only to finish two points behind defending champions Manchester City.

Mikel Arteta’s side have been spectacular, but they still need to take one more step before they can surpass Pep Guardiola’s juggernaut, and that final step may well come in the shape of a new striker.

The Gunners conceded five fewer goals than City but also scored five fewer, so the fact that recent reports have linked them to a new number nine should excite fans, especially Bukayo Saka, who could see his numbers supercharged by a more clinical alongside of him.

According to a recent report from Italian publication La Gazzetta dello Sport, Arsenal have been monitoring Bologna’s star striker Joshua Zirkzee in recent months and are now ‘super interested’ in signing him in the summer.


Arsenal-Isak-Gyokeres-Osimhen-Zirkzee-Sesko

Alongside the Gunners, the report names AC Milan, Manchester United and even Juventus as some of the other clubs interested in the young Dutchman, which could complicate matters for Edu Gaspar and Co.

However, the good news is that Bologna aren’t demanding an arm and a leg for the player, as his release clause is reported to be just €40m, which converts to around £34m. Additionally, reports from earlier this month revealed that the North Londoners already had an offer prepared for the player himself, suggesting that a move could be closer than some realise.


joshua-zirkzee-premier-league-west-ham-serie-a

While the interest from other major teams certainly complicates any potential deal, Edu and Arteta would be wise to pursue Zirkzee as a striker of his calibre is unlikely to cost £34m for much longer.

How Zirkzee could supercharge Saka

Saka has been a tour de force at points this season, and while he might have faded in some games, his return of 20 goals and 14 assists in 47 appearances is genuinely remarkable – boarding on world-class, some might say.


Bukayo-Saka-Arsenal-Spurs

However, at just 22 years old, there is undoubtedly more to come from the Hale End superstar, and the fact that Understat has him underperforming his Premier League expected assists figure of 11.33 by 3.33 suggests that we could see it with a more clinical number nine next to him – which is where Zirkzee comes in.

The 23-year-old “complete forward,” as described by talent scout Jacek Kulig, has scored 12 Serie A goals from an expected goals figure of just 9.11, per Understat, meaning he scored 2.89 goals more than would have been expected of him given the chances – an overperformance of around 26%.

Zirkzee vs Havertz vs Jesus

Player

Expected Goals

Goals

Zirkzee

9.11

12

Havertz

13.47

13

Jesus

7.29

4

All Stats via Understat

In comparison, Arsenal’s primary strikers, Kai Havertz and Gabriel Jesus, both underperformed based on their expected goals figures in the league this season.

For example, the German found the back of the net 13 times from an expected figure of 13.47, and while that is quite good, it clearly shows that he’s less clinical than the Dutchman when presented with similar chances.


joshua-zirkzee-west-ham-united-premier-league

Moreover, the Gunners’ Brazilian striker scored just four league goals from an expected figure of 7.29, meaning he underperformed by 3.29. This highlights that while he’s a technically gifted player, he’s not someone who can be relied upon to regularly put the ball in the back of the net.

Therefore, while Arteta does have a pair of talented forwards at his disposal, neither one can be classed as genuinely clinical, which goes some way to explaining why the club’s best rightwinger has fewer assists than the underlying numbers say he should.

Related

Havertz repeat: Arsenal hold talks to sign a “future legend” of the PL

The incredibly talented star could revive his career in North London.

So, if the North Londoners want to maximise the potential output of their star boy next season, then signing the “insane” Zirkzee, as dubbed by data analyst Ben Mattinson, would be the way to go.

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