Jaime Vardy the star striker of 5000:1 Premier League champions Leicester City has been linked to a move to Arsenal. Leicester manager Claudio Ranieri confirmed that his release clause of £20 million ($28.89 million).
Now on paper, this signing makes sense, Vardy scored the second most goals in the Premier League with 24. This is eight more than Arsenal’s top striker Oliver Giroud and 11 more than winger Alexis Sanchez, Arsenal’s top two scorers. Vardy was considered the second best player in the Premier League according to the EA Sports Player Performance Index, Arsenal’s top player was Mesut Özil who was fifth and Giroud was not in the top 20.
The reason Vardy doesn’t make sense for Arsenal is that he can be considered a one hit wonder that scored five goals in his first season, over 34 appearances. That is almost one goal per seven appearances, which would be unacceptable for any striker who was starting regularly, especially at Arsenal.
In a tactical sense Leicester lined up in a 4-2-2-2 formation that provided lots of counter-attacking opportunities where balls could be played over the top or between the defenders giving Vardy the chance to run behind and put a good shot on target. At Arsenal, Vardy would be facing an opposition that would be playing deeper with more men behind the ball and closing those gaps leaving Vardy with less space to run into. Watch this video of Vardy’s 2015/2016 goals and see how many are either over the top or through the opposing defenders where Vardy is able to run into space at the keeper.
Theo Walcott at the beginning of this past season was playing the central striker platooning with Giroud. This experiment was not fruitful for Walcott, being a speedy player who could not run in behind defenses due to the lack of room and the focus on him by opposing defenses. Also, Walcott is not tall enough to be a prolific header at only 5’9”. These would be the same issue that Vardy would face in the tactics that Arsenal employs with him being only an inch taller at 5’10”.
Many are going to disagree with me and think Vardy would be a fantastic signing for Arsenal. Martin Keown a former Arsenal centre-back and current scout thinks that it would be a great signing due to his ability to run behind defenses. There are also those who feel it is a bad signing such as former Arsenal midfielder Paul Merson who thinks it would be bad for Vardy due to Arsenal’s slow build-up play.
Vardy may not be the striker that Arsenal needs, even though he could still be successful, but there are plenty of other striking options that have proven that they can score for more than one season that would fit into Arsenal’s formation. While being more expensive than Vardy, Real Madrid and Spanish striker Alvaro Morata would be a better fit due to his ability to finish with both feet and his ability in the air at 6’3”. Also because he is 23, it is a signing for the present and future.
Another top striker that is most likely available is Romelu Lukaku form Everton. He scored 18 goals this season and provides a threat from all areas around the box, as well as scoring six goals from headers this past season. With Everton not playing in the Europa League this upcoming season there is hope that the promise of Champions League matches will bring Lukaku to London. The problem is that he will cost at least twice what Vardy will, but he is also 23 making him a current and future investment.
So while Vardy looks like a great signing for Arsenal. there are better options out there that are younger and fit better with the tactics employed. He will also be just fine at Leicester under the direction of the manager who played to his strengths in Ranieri.