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It is being reported that Arsenal are keen to sign Crystal Palace winger Wilfried Zaha this summer. The Ivorian is said to be interested in a move to the Emirates but the Gunners can’t afford to match the Eagles’ £80m asking price.
With the London club failing to qualify for the Champions League, it has left manager Unai Emery with a transfer kitty of just £45m, which means a high profile player may have to be sacrificed to sign Zaha.
The most likely option is Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. The Gabon striker has already been subject to a bid from China, and Arsenal could make up the deficit in their budget by offloading their star striker.
Considering he was the Premier League’s joint Golden Boot winner last season, there are very few reasons that could justify the forward being sold.
He is 30 years of age so he does have a limited shelf life, and the argument could be made that Arsenal won’t be able to recoup much of the £56m they paid for him 18 months ago if they don’t sell him soon.
In Zaha, Arsenal would be getting a player with undoubted ability. He is creative, able to take players on one-on-one and has pace to burn. However, he is a mercurial talent.
At 26 years old, he is well past the stage that a footballer can be classed as “having potential.” Reaching his peak years, he will get an average of ten goals a season, with a similar number of assists.
That is what Zaha will give you. He may get a few more goals in a team as creative as Arsenal but it doesn’t warrant an £80m outlay. You also have to consider what you would be losing if Aubameyang was sold.
The striker has scored 41 goals in 65 appearances since arriving at the Emirates, averaging a goal every 1.5 games. He provides you with an end product which Zaha doesn’t always guarantee.
Just three and a half years older than the Ivorian, Aubameyang could still offer Arsenal at least four more seasons at the top level, and his goals could define Unai Emery’s time in charge.
If he helps the team qualify for the top four in the next few campaigns, scores a winning goal in a cup final or two, the forward would more than justify the decision to keep him.
Were Arsenal to sacrifice Aubameyang for a player who could transform the side, I could understand that, but Zaha, despite his talent, would not be that person. The decision could well come back to haunt the Gunners if they go through with selling one of their best players.