Leicester striker’s indecision might not be bad news for Arsenal
- Credit: PA Wire/Press Association Images
Jamie Vardy’s apparent desire to delay a decision on his future until after the European Championship finals gives Arsenal fans plenty to ruminate on during the coming weeks.
Not only the obvious question – that of whether the Premier League’s second top scorer will opt to leave Leicester and move to the Emirates – but whether the proposed move would actually represent good news for the Gunners.
The club’s strategy in bidding for Vardy seems fairly clear, following hot on the heels of their £30m capture of Switzerland international Granit Xhaka at an early stage of the transfer window.
The Gunners’ failure to add a single outfield player to their squad this time last year drew repeated criticism – so spending big money on not one, but two recruits, would surely be interpreted as proof of their ambition to improve on what was ultimately a disappointing campaign.
Their motivation was arguably similar a few years ago, when they made an audacious £40m plus a pound offer for Luis Suarez – largely for the publicity it would generate rather than because the maverick Uruguayan was a player they actually needed.
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In the case of Vardy, many Arsenal fans will be delighted at the prospect of seeing him in a red and white shirt because they long ago lost faith in first-choice centre-forward Olivier Giroud.
The French striker does suffer lapses in form and can go for long spells without finding the back of the net – yet, despite that, his scoring record for the Gunners remains extremely healthy.
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It also must be worth questioning whether the system preferred by Arsene Wenger, with a lone centre-forward and no genuine wingers, does Giroud any favours – and whether it would favour Vardy either.
The England forward has thrived at Leicester in what is near enough a conventional 4-4-2, with the likes of Riyad Mahrez supplying him with the ammunition to score goals.
It would be a different story at Arsenal, where Wenger likes to line up a surfeit of eye-catching players in vaguely attacking yet often unspecific roles, forcing some of them into wider positions to suit his system.
The likelihood is that Vardy would effectively become a replacement for the injured Danny Welbeck, another player who operates best in a central role but is too often denied the chance to do that.
Leaving aside the issues of money, prestige and prospects – and at the age of 29, those are entirely valid considerations for Vardy – he must also be unsure as to whether Wenger’s approach would really suit him that well.
If the Arsenal boss does succeed in getting his man, he would do well to consider changing his formation – perhaps adopting a midfield diamond – and abandoning one which lends itself to over-elaboration and lack of an end product.
Of course, Vardy may just be keeping his options open and, if he shines in France, more potential suitors could emerge once the tournament is concluded.
It would be a tremendous coup for Leicester if he decided to stay put – and a damaging snub for Wenger, raising doubts as to whether the club he has presided over for so long is now as attractive a proposition as he might think.