Ever since Robin Van Persie controversially swapped the Emirates for Old Trafford in 2012, it has felt like Arsenal have been crying out for a striker. The latest man to be touted as the answer to the Gunners’ goalscoring problems is AZ striker Vincent Janssen.
The 21 year old had an outstanding season in the Eredivisie scoring 27 goals in 34 appearances to finish as the league’s top scorer. That’s all the more impressive given he wasn’t playing for one of the country’s ‘big three’ and when you consider he’d never kicked a ball in the Dutch top flight prior to this campaign, you begin to appreciate the magnitude of his rise.
This time last year he was playing for minnows Almere City in the Eerste Divisie in front of crowds of only 2,000 spectators. Since his move to AZ last summer he has not only took to Eredivisie football like a duck to water but also gained his first international cap and scored in his first start for the Netherlands in a 2-1 win over England at Wembley when he put in a fine display and also created the other goal.
That would certainly have made managers up and down England take note of Janssen’s talents but suggestions that he could prove the answer to Arsenal’s striker problem have somewhat predictably been met with a fair degree of scepticism.
The main reason for that being the comparative weakness of the Eredivisie and the number of big-money flops that English clubs have bought from that league in years gone by.
It’s worth noting the second top scorer in the Dutch top flight this season was Luuk de Jong, a man who netted 26 goals for PSV this term but failed to score a single goal in an ill-fated spell at Newcastle during the 2013-14 season.
Add to that the likes of Mateja Kežman and Afonso Alves, who both scored for fun in Holland but failed spectacularly in the Premier League and it is very clear that a successful striker in the Netherlands won’t necessarily cope with the demands of the Premier League.
However it would be completely unfair to write Janssen off merely on those grounds. His rapid rise has already shown he is capable of stepping up and delivering the goods at a higher level.
He certainly appears to be a natural born finisher, which is something that Arsenal have been crying out for and is also a very capable passer of the ball which should allow him to fit well into Arsenal’s style.
Raw talent and exciting prospect
Clearly at 21 and having played only one season at anything like the top level, he is nowhere near the finished article and the success he has had has predominantly been down to his raw talent, which suggests there will be plenty more to come when he works with better coaches and better players on a more regular basis.
Therefore Janssen is certainly an exciting prospect and wouldn’t cost a fortune at this stage in his career, which could make him an attractive proposition for many clubs in Europe including the Gunners.
The Dutch youngster would make a good signing for Arsenal but only if bought with a view to the future rather than as the definitive solution to spearhead their forward-line next season.
That would be an enormous amount of pressure to place on Janssen’s young shoulders and would represent a massive gamble from the Gunners who would be wise to target a proven striker in a top European league as the immediate solution to their problems.
More of an intriguing secondary signing
Janssen though would make for an intriguing secondary signing either as an alternative option to Olivier Giroud or another striker should Arsenal decide to cut ties with the Frenchman.
That would allow him to develop his game under less pressure and without his every touch being placed under the spotlight and he would be treated with much more patience by an increasingly impatient Arsenal following as a result.
Written by Mark Sochon
Follow Mark on Twitter @tikitakagol
Check out his brilliant blog on all things La Liga, Tiki-Taka-Gol!
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