Aston Villa beat Arsenal to Emi Buendia signing
One of Arsenal’s biggest issues during the first half of the 2020/21 campaign was their real lack of creativity.
The emergence of Emile Smith Rowe in December helped solved this issue somewhat. But it was quite clear Arsenal could not solely rely on ESR over the course of a full season which sees them competing in several competitions.
This would lead to the Gunners securing the services of Martin Odegaard during the winter transfer window.
And the Norwegian would indeed bring a new dimension to Arsenal’s attack, with Odegaard’s versatility allowing him to line up alongside Smith Rowe, or in his place when needed.
Odegaard, though, has now returned to Real and Arsenal’s search for creativity reinforcements has begun again.
The main player to have been linked with the north Londoners of late has been Norwich City’s Emi Buendia.
The Argentine was linked with Arsenal back in December, and their interest did appear to have been rekindled in recent days.
— Chris Wheatley (@ChrisWheatley_) June 3, 2021
Buendia seemed liked a perfect fit for Arsenal. He is still relativity young at 24, has Premier League experience and is also fairly versatile meaning he could have lined up for Arsenal on the right or through the middle.
This was crucial for Arsenal as it meant that his presence, liked Odegaard’s, would not interfere with Smith Rowe’s development as it is fairly easy to fit both into the same starting line-up in positions they are comfortable in.
Now though, Arsenal have been dealt a major blow on the Buendia front with numerous reports suggesting the South American is set to become an Aston Villa player imminently.
More on Buendia: Fee will get to £40m after the add-ons. No sell-on to Getafe after Norwich bought it out 2 years ago: a huge profit for a player who cost just £1.5m and again underlining the value in good recruitment/analysis/data #ncfc #avfc
— John Percy (@JPercyTelegraph) June 5, 2021
Norwich’s Emiliano Buendía is on the verge of joining Aston Villa for an initial £30million after completing a medical in Argentina
— Sky Sports News (@SkySportsNews) June 5, 2021
So, with Buendia seemingly off the market, Arsenal now need to turn their attentions to other creative options.
And at 101 we have picked out four players Arsenal could target instead of Emi Buendia.
Hakan Calhanoglu, AC Milan
The first option Arsenal could target is AC Milan and Turkey star, Hakan Calhanoglu.
Calhanoglu would join AC Milan in 2017 from Bayer Leverkusen for a fee believed to be around £20m.
The 27-year-old has since become a key cog in the Rossoneri’s side. All told, Calhanoglu has scored 32 and provided 48 assists for Milan.
Nine of those goals and 12 of those assists came during the 2020/21 campaign as Milan secured a Champions League berth and 2nd spot in the Serie A.
With Arsenal not even in the Europa Conference League next season, some may wonder why Calhanoglu would swap Milan for the Emirates.
And, in most cases, that is a fair point. But it is worth noting that Calhanoglu’s current contract at the San Siro runs out at the end of this month and, at the time of writing, a new deal is yet to be agreed.
This of course means that Arsenal could potentially land the Milan man on a free.
Moreover, though Calhanoglu is a central attacking midfielder by trade, he is more than capable of starting from the left, meaning he too can fit in a team either alongside or instead of Smith Rowe.
Ruslan Malinovskyi, Atalanta
Next up on the list is Ruslan Malinovskyi, who is currently plying his trade in the Serie A with Atalanta.
Malinovskyi would join Atalanta in July of 2019 from Belgian outfit, Genk.
Despite having no experience in Europe’s top five leagues before his move to Italy, Malinovskyi has taken to the Italian top-flight like a duck to water.
It is this past season, though, that has been the Ukraine international’s most impressive.
In 36 Serie A outings during 2020/21, the 28-year-old was able to provide eight goals and 12 assists.
And again, though Malinovskyi is a CAM by trade, he like Odegaard and Buendia, can also operate fairly comfortably on the right.
One issue facing Arsenal if they were to pursue Malinovskyi, however, is that Atalanta doe have Champions League football next term so it may take some convincing on the Gunners’ part to get him to join.
Daichi Kamada, Eintracht Frankfurt
Another player Arsenal could target over Emi Buendia is Eintracht Frankfurt’s Daichi Kamada.
Kamada signed for the Bundesliga side in 2017, but it was not until a few years later that he finally began to earn regular football for Frankfurt.
The 24-year-old has featured 86 times across all competitions for Die Adler, with 2020/21 his most impressive season in Germany to date.
In 32 league ties last campaign, Kamada was able to provide five goals and 12 assists for Frankfurt.
Said stat is made even more impressive when you release only Harry Kane and Thomas Muller registered more assists than the Japan international across Europe’s top five leagues last season.
— WhoScored.com (@WhoScored) May 20, 2021
One potential drawback with Kamada, though, is that, unlike the aforementioned players, he does not appear very versatile.
Kamada operates through the middle most of the time and his presence may see Smith Rowe’s game time reduced.
Julian Brant, Borussia Dortmund
The final player Arsenal could target over Buendia is Borussia Dortmund’s Julian Brandt.
Brandt is coming off the back of a fairly underwhelming campaign which saw him score just four and provide two assists across 45 outings.
However, it may be worth Arsenal taking a gamble on the 25-year-old, who has already showcased his ability in previous campaigns.
DORTMUND, GERMANY – NOVEMBER 05: Julian Brandt of Borussia Dortmund celebrates after scoring his teams second goal with the team mates during the UEFA Champions League group F match between Borussia Dortmund and Inter at Signal Iduna Park on November 5, 2019 in Dortmund, Germany. (Photo by TF-Images/Getty Images)
2019/20, for example, saw the German score seven and assist 13 – a much more solid return.
Brandt is also arguably the most versatile player on this list – able to operate as a CAM, central midfielder, left-winger or right-winger.
And, when Arsenal have been linked with Brandt previously, a fairly low price-tag has been mentioned.