Despite being the subject of much speculation over the past few days, Real Madrid’s young Spanish striker Álvaro Morata has played down talks linking him with a loan move to Premiership table-toppers Arsenal, insisting he is happy in the Spanish capital and wants to remain there. Ahead of Madrid’s Copa Del Rey clash with third division minnows Olimpic De Xavita this weekend, Morata has been quoted by the BBC saying, “I want to be here for a long time,” with his manager Carlo Ancelotti emphatically adding, “Morata stays. He is happy. If he doesn’t feel comfortable at the end of the season we will think about loaning him.”
It had been suggested that one of Arsene Wenger’s priorities in the coming weeks should be a backup striker to Frenchman Olivier Giroud, who has maintained his good form despite having very little rest time. With a busy December period and the return of the Champions League in January, Giroud won’t be able to play every game. Arsenal fans are loathe to see their own first-touch-of-a-trampoline-frontman Nicklas Bendtner starting up front, despite his early goal against Hull in midweek.
Morata is popular in Madrid with many fans feeling he merits a starting berth, but Ancelotti has largely stuck with Karim Benzema in front of a Ronaldo-Isco-Bale triple threat. The Frenchman has bagged 10 goals and eight assists in all competitions this season, but it has been rumored that come the end of the season, Madrid will be looking to replace him with a certain free-scoring Uruguayan, Luis Suarez.
Luis Suárez is in the form of his life, and following his stunning four-goal salvo against Norwich, he has pledged his future to Liverpool – at least until the end of the season. Following a protracted transfer saga with Arsenal over the summer, it is unlikely he will remain at Anfield if they can’t maintain their top-four form.
Although it is not impossible that he could make the switch to Arsenal, Madrid would be his most likely destination, with Brendan Rodgers unwilling to offload his star player to a rival English club. Suárez added to the rumors in the summer by admitting that “it would be very difficult to say no to Real Madrid” if the Spanish giants came calling, and his arrival would likely unsettle Benzema with Los Merengues only having room for one striker in their 4-2-3-1 system.
Benzema was rumoured to be part of the deal to bring the wonderful Mesut Özil to the Emirates over the summer, but a deal never materialised after Spurs delayed the Gareth Bale transfer to try and prevent Arsenal from making the move. Benzema would certainly fit Arsene Wenger’s bill – reasonably tall, technically gifted, a proven goalscorer and French, he would seem the perfect option for Wenger, and with either the enhanced financial clout of a successful season or the motivation of a brilliant start which faded away, a move for Benzema can be considered likely in the summer.
For now, Arsenal fans will probably have to settle for a loan deal for a player similar to Morata or an unhappy forward who can be prised from their current club. Names have been thrown around such as Dimitar Berbatov or the underappreciated Edin Džeko to take on this role. But unless Thierry Henry can be convinced to come back yet again, they will have to make do with the returning Theo Walcott, Lukas Podolski, or even Yaya Sanogo, a youngster with much promise but so far little product. With Özil, Cazorla, Ramsey, and Wilshere behind, whoever plays is always going to have chances – take a few of them and the Gunners may not even need a marquee forward signing.