Zaha, Carrasco or Malcom - Which winger should Arsenal go for?
Finally, Arsenal has made a signing. The fans expected it to be Kieran Tierney, as the Scottish left-back has been heavily linked with Arsenal in recent weeks, but it was Gabriel Martinelli, the wonder kid from Brazil who Arsenal signed for £6 million from Ituano.
Though the Gunners are in heavy need of a quality centre back, the board cannot neglect the requirement for an effective and goal-scoring winger as the likes of Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Alex Iwobi have never really stood up for the side. In short, they are inconsistent. So, Arsenal is apparently in the market for Wilfried Zaha, Hakim Ziyech and Yannick Carrasco.
Starting with the player who is playing in a different continent altogether, Yannick Carrasco was looking all set to join Arsenal for a fee in the region of €25 million to €30 million, but Dalian Yifang were reportedly playing hardball for a move and therefore, the deal did not materialise. And now, the deal seems to be far from happening as Carrasco has resumed training with his current club and Arsenal is looking at other options.
Now, Zaha, the player who has been in the news recently. He is arguably the best player in the Premier League outside the top six. Rated at a staggering £80 million by Crystal Palace, Zaha is looking for a move out of Selhurst Park but Palace are reportedly unwilling to sell him in this transfer window.
Arsenal have submitted a £40 million bid, nearly half of Palace's valuation for Zaha, and are clearly trying to destabilize the player, as Zaha himself has admitted quite a lot of times in the past that Arsenal is his boyhood club. Additionally, his brother lately admitted that Zaha wants to move to Arsenal this summer.
Arsenal is not completely wrong in submitting a bid of £40 million. For a 26-year-old who scored 10 goals last season, a bid of £40m to £50m is fair enough. They will likely come back with an improved bid, this time including a player as well. I assume it would be 50 million + Carl Jenkinson, as Roy Hodgson apparently wants to sign Jenkinson as a replacement for Aaron Wan Bissaka, who left for Manchester United.
Zaha is currently at the Africa Cup of Nations doing international duty. Thinking from his perspective, he would want to leave Crystal Palace without disappointing the fans and the board, which seems quite difficult at the moment. The Ivorian will have to put in a transfer request if he wishes to join Arsenal as Crystal Palace would not reduce the valuation unless Zaha does so.
Last but not the least, according to Sport, Arsenal have made an offer to sign Malcom on a season-long loan with an option to sign the Brazilian permanently. Barcelona, however, would prefer to sell Malcom this summer for a fee in the region of €40 million.
The 22-year-old would be a decent signing, as he has impressed the fans in every chance he has gotten to star in a Barca shirt, with his most notable performances coming against Real Madrid and Inter Milan. However, Ernesto Valverde seems to be least interested in keeping the Brazilian at the Camp Nou for another year and therefore, the board looks set to offload him.
Opinion - Considering Arsenal's financial strength, spending €40 million on a player who has scored just 4 goals all season would be too great a risk, and hence, a loan deal would likely suit both parties. Being an Arsenal fan, I would prefer Wilfried Zaha over the likes of Carrasco and Malcom as he is a proven Premier League player, a leader on the pitch, a player in his prime years, and lastly, a true gooner, who will play for the badge and not for the money.
What makes Zaha a better player and a better option for Arsenal is that he is also very consistent, has an eye for a pass and is versatile. Moreover, Crystal Palace forward is effective on both flanks and can also take up the striker role if Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette are unavailable. Malcom is young and indeed an impactful player but the Brazilian can only be deployed as a left-winger as he struggles to play effectively on the right.
Carrasco, on the other hand, was a player who was at his prime at Atletico Madrid but moving to China was a bad decision and it might have an effect on his ability to match the pace, physicality and skill of the English top-flight. Already 26, Arsenal need a proven player who can perform consistently for the team and Unai Emery certainly does not have the time to "test" as the Spaniard's deal expires in 2021.
The only way Unai Emery can get his current contract extended is if he gets Arsenal back into the Champions League. For that though, he needs to sign a proven forward who can score as well as create on a regular basis. And Wilfried Zaha fits that bill perfectly.