Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta has drawn up a three-player list of potential replacements for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang as the Gunners eye younger forwards should the Gabon international leave the Emirates this summer.
Aubameyang’s contract at the Emirates expires in 2021 and Arsenal face having to make a decision as to whether to sell him this summer or let him run down his contract and depart on a free next year.
While Mikel Arteta wants to keep his top goalscorer and captain and pen him to a new deal, it has been suggested the player would want either a hefty pay rise or Champions League football to stick around at the club.
Given the north Londoners’ financial constraints and the gap between them and the top four in the Premier League table, neither are particularly likely.
And so Arsenal are drawing up plans in case they are forced to sell their 20-goal striker this summer.
According to Goal, the Gunners are keen to recruit a younger attacker than the 31-year-old, as Arteta looks to build a youthful team who he can depend on for years to come.
Among his options are Celtic’s Odsonne Edouard, who Arsenal have long tracked. Before the Scottish Premier League was abandonded, the 22-year-old Frenchman netted 21 goals and laid on 12 assists in just 27 appearances.
Across all competitions, he stands at 27 goals and 19 assists from 45 games for the 2019-20 campaign.
It has previously been suggested that former Paris Saint-Germain prospect Edouard, who has been watched extensively this season, could cost around £30million.
An alternative to Edouard who would be cheaper is Gent’s Jonathan David, the 20-year-old Canada international who has lit up the Belgian league.
David ended the Belgian First Division A season as the joint-top goalscorer alongside ex-Norwich attacker Dieumerci Mbokani on 18 goals.
He also managed the third-highest total of assists with eight as Genk finished second to champions Club Brugge, but qualified for the Champions League third qualifying round.
The versatile attacker also scored five goals and laid on two assists in 13 appearances in Europa League qualifying and the group stages of the competition, taking him to double figures for goals and assists across all competitions.
David would be available at closer to £20million but has suggested he wants a smaller step up before making the leap to a league of the Premier League’s quality.
American-born Canadian David told Sky Sports last month: “It’s time for me to move and go somewhere where I can keep developing and get to the potential that I have. The league that would suit me the most right now is the Bundesliga.
“It’s similar to the Belgian league in terms of the tempo and the physicality, but obviously the quality is higher in Germany and there is more competition.”
The third potential successor to Aubameyang on Arsenal’s radar is Moussa Dembele, formerly of Fulham and Celtic.
Now at Lyon but still only 23, the Frenchman managed 16 goals and two assists in 27 Ligue 1 appearances before the season was scrapped and mustered 22 goals across all competitions.
With Lyon having finished seventh in the league, Dembele may be available this summer but he would surely be out of their price range – and Manchester United are potential rivals for his signature.
Chelsea were also mooted as potential suitors but the Blues are closing in on RB Leipzig’s Timo Werner.
Dembele, however, was priced at around £80m in the January transfer window and his valuation is unlikely to have dropped all that much with Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas a notoriously tough negotiator.
Meanwhile, speaking on talkSPORT, Arsenal icon Ray Parlour implored his former club to sell Aubameyang if he refuses to put pen to paper on an extension.
“I think you’ve got to sell him if he doesn’t sign a contract, and then take the money and try to replace him,” he said.
“It’s really difficult to keep a player if he doesn’t want to stay.
“It’s a big decision to make, but I don’t know what sort of money you could get for him if he doesn’t want to stay. If you get a good fee for him then you have to try and go out and replace him.
“That is difficult, but it has happened at every single club when players come to the last year of their contract.
“I’m praying that he wants to stay and Arsenal can sign him on a new contract and he can be there for the next two or three years under [Mikel] Arteta.
“It all depends on the manager as well, if they get on, and also if he feels the club is going forward.
“That is the big decision the club have got to make, but hopefully he stays.”