The opinion that Arsenal need to sign a genuine goal scoring forward has always been prevalent, and tends to centre around the view of Olivier Giroud. However, with Danny Welbeck still absent, it was reported this week that the north London club will seek to bring Inter’s Mauro Icardi to the Emirates Stadium during the January transfer window.
A bid of €45 million is expected, according to Italian newspaper Corriere dello Sport, and while it difficult to know whether or not the Nerazzurri would accept that sum, it is clear that Arsenal would be acquiring a deadly striker should they manage to conclude a deal. Indeed, since his Serie A debut back in 2012/13, Icardi has netted more than 50 goals, despite still being just 22 years old and having only recently passed 100 professional appearances.
Born in the Argentinean city of Rosario, his family moved to Spain and after starting his career in the youth sector of Vecindario in Gran Canaria, Icardi would sign for Barcelona but never made a real impression. “I have no regrets about leaving,” he would say after moving to Sampdoria, “if a youngster wants to grow then certain decisions have to be made.”
It would prove to be a wise choice, with him being given some first team experience as the club earned promotion from Serie B in his first year. Icardi quickly became a regular in the top flight after scoring on his first start. That the goal came against Sampdoria’s derby rivals Genoa would be a portent of things to come, the striker since developing a well-earned reputation for netting in important fixtures over the following years.
Nine more goals would follow and – with three in two games versus Juventus plus four in a 73 minute outing against Pescara – the nation’s bigger clubs would soon come calling. Inter would win the battle for his signature, with Icardi noting the pride he felt in following compatriots such as Javier Zanetti, Esteban Cambiasso and Diego Milito in joining the San Siro giants.
Again, his first goal for a new side would come against a rival, adding to his tally opposite reigning champions Juventus as he helped the Nerazzurri earn a draw against Antonio Conte’s side. Injury would then see him miss four months of action, netting on his return and going on to help his side secure a place in the Europa League.
Last season would see Icardi begin to fully realise his vast potential, netting 22 goals to share the Serie A leading scorer honour with Luca Toni. Adding six assists, his haul became even more impressive when noting he played just 2900 minutes of the campaign, over 300 fewer than the 2006 World Cup winner.
Despite a number of run-ins with Roberto Mancini, the Coach has made Icardi his captain this season, seeing his faith rewarded with some increasingly mature performances. His form has improved as the current campaign has progressed, and certainly benefitted from Inter’s more positive approach this past weekend as they demolished newly promoted Frosinone.
Triumphing by an emphatic 4-0 scoreline with Icardi bagging the second goal of the game, playing a lone role up front rather than having Rodrigo Palacio taking up space beside him. That allowed him to link with the midfield much better, enjoying some neat passing exchanges with Adem Ljajić and Jonathan Biabiany throughout the game.
With two goals in his last three outings, the striker has silenced talk of his poor form and also saw his own words proven correct. Inter were far more proactive against Frosinone, just as Icardi had implored them to be following their win over Bologna where, after he scored the only goal of the game, he bemoaned the lack of chances coming his way.
“I’m a striker and I can only score if the ball gets to me,” he said. "In 10 games I received four decent passes and scored three goals!” The statistics bear that out, with his shot attempts dropping from 3.4 per game in 2014/15 to just 1.6 this term according to figures courtesy of WhoScored.com, simply not receiving the service he needs.
That would be in plentiful supply should the talk of a move to Arsenal lead to an actual transfer, which – while difficult to understand for Inter – would provide the Gunners with the man to fire them to glory.