In Eddie Nketiah and Gabriel Martinelli, Arsenal have two emerging striking talents. Relying on them as starting options would be equal parts risky and exhilarating.
In Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette, Arsenal have two strikers that they may have to offload this summer. Aubamayeng has just one more year remaining on his contract, while Lacazette has two but has not performed at a high level this season. Both have been hesitant to sign new deals and there is a good chance that the club will be forced to cash in on at least one of the pair.
Spinning towards how they can deal with their absence and replace their outrageous production, there are several options. Spending is the most obvious avenue, especially if you can raise the best part of £100 million by selling the pair.
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But Arsenal are in a very fortunate situation: in Eddie Nketiah and Gabriel Martinelli, they have two young players who have proven that they are on the verge of being ready for a full-time starting role.
Nketiah has already displayed Lacazette in the centre-forward role, scoring three goals in 431 minutes since his return from Leeds United in January. Meanwhile, Martinelli has repeatedly displayed his sensational ability. He is the club’s second-highest goalscorer behind Aubameyang and has been heralded as a world-leading young talent by David Luiz, Mikel Arteta and Jurgen Klopp.
And Michael Owen believes that the pair could step in for Aubameyang or Lacazette. Owen told Premier League Productions:
“They’ve got a nice blend as well. They’re bringing a few young players through, [Eddie] Nketiah, [Gabriel] Martinelli scoring goals as well. You never know, one of those two lads upfront could turn into proper players and be like him [Aubameyang], scoring 20-plus goals a season and they’re worth their weight in gold.”
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Now, it might be a stretch to say that Martinelli and Nketiah are ready for a more sustained role in the team. And if Arsenal were to offload both Lacazette and Aubameyang, another centre-forward or goalscoring wide attacker who can shine from the off would be required. Nevertheless, it is extremely exciting to consider that the Gunners could move on from one of their two best players of the past couple of seasons and turn to a teenager or academy graduate to replace them.
Of the two, Martinelli seems the more prepared to step up to the Premier League level. He shares Nketiah’s goalscoring knack, but he is more polished in his hold-up play, is a better dribbler, and works equally as hard without the ball. That is not a knock on Nketiah, though, who has shown more than enough to be given more chances.
Ultimately, Arsenal have two excellent young attackers on their hands. And they might be in a position in which they lean on their pair. That is both inherently risky, as is always the case when turning to young players, and thoroughly exhilarating.