Arsenal masterplan for January sees them target replacement for £72m flop rather than ‘pure No. 9’

Lewis Oldham
Arsenal in for winger

Arsenal are reportedly not too interested in signing a replacement for Gabriel Jesus as they are instead focused on signing a replacement for Nicolas Pepe.

Jesus has picked up a knee injury that is likely going to keep him out until February.

The Brazilian has been key to their success this season. While he has not been in the goals as much as he’d like, he has been able to get the best out of Bukayo Saka and Gabriel Martinelli.

Arsenal could be forgiven for panicking in January as Jesus’ injury leaves them with Eddie Nketiah as their only natural striker.

Nketiah has impressed in fits and starts for the Gunners but the youngster is currently far away from Jesus’ quality and it remains to be seen how their performances as a team will be hampered by the forward’s absence.

Despite this, a fresh report from The Athletic has confirmed that Arsenal do not want a ‘relatively short-term problem to shape their plans’.

Instead, the Premier League club are focused on signing a winger who ‘could provide cover and competition’ for Saka and Martinelli.

‘After the injury to Jesus at the World Cup, many fans would say centre-forward. Arsenal do not necessarily see it the same way: they don’t want to allow a relatively short-term problem
to shape their squad-building plans. So a pure No 9 is not high on their agenda.

‘Arsenal have wanted an additional attacking player for some time, but one who operates on the flanks: a player who could provide cover and competition for the likes of Bukayo Saka and Gabriel Martinelli.

‘Arsenal allowed Nicolas Pepe to join French club Nice in the summer, but the closest they came to replace him was the addition of the promising but raw Marquinhos.

‘A new central midfield player is also on the agenda for 2023 — but with Thomas Partey and Mohamed Elneny currently fit, there is less urgency in that area. It’s something more likely to be attended to in the summer.’

Arsenal signed Pepe for £72m in 2019 but he proved to be a disappointment. As The Athletic mention, Marquinhos was signed in the summer but he is one for the future.

Mikel Arteta is looking to sign a winger who can come straight in and make an impact. Their top target is understood to be Shakhtar Donetsk’s Mykhaylo Mudryk.

The report adds that the stumbling block in the way of Arsenal signing Mudryk is Shakhtar stating publicly that they ‘expect to receive £88m for his services’.

Mudryk has been superb this season but he is yet to perform over an extended period of time, which may be why ‘Arsenal do not intend to go that high’ with their bids.

They also state that Premier League side Fulham are the ‘frontrunners’ to sign Arsenal defender Cedric Soares.

The defender has fallen down the pecking order this season with Ben White and Takehiro Tomiyasu preferred at right-back.

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