Arsenal transfers: Gunners raid for Vardy makes sense on closer inspection
Jamie Clark, Sports Editor | June 4, 2016
The question on every single Arsenal fan’s lips is this; is a 29-year-old striker with at most another three seasons left at the highest level worth paying £20m for?
The Wright stuff?
From non-league to Premier League title triumph and representing England at Euro 2016, the rags to riches Cinderella story of Jamie Vardy has inevitably drawn comparison to Gunners great Ian Wright.
Given top-flight platforms to perform on at Leicester City and Crystal Palace respectively, Wright was crucially just 27 and entering his prime when Arsenal’s interest in him materialised back in 1991.
Football has changed considerably over the last 25 years, yet Vardy’s reported release clause is eight times that which the Gunners paid Palace for Wright.
Arsenal have now emerged as odds-on 2/7 favourites with Coral to be the next club of Vardy with negotiations underway, but does he fit in to Arsene Wenger’s style?
With the Foxes, Vardy has played a brand of football under Claudio Ranieri that defies the prevailing orthodoxy that adheres to the adage that possession in nine-tenths of the law.
Leicester’s against all odds success was built upon counter-attacking football with the relentless pace of Vardy and others stretching opposition defences.
That is not how the Gunners go about their business, so that poses more questions. Could Wenger be considering a change of tactical approach, or is this proposed transfer just merely an indictment of his current attack that remains firmly in the shadow of Dennis Bergkamp and Thierry Henry?
Seldom able to get consistent performances out of Theo Walcott, or to keep Danny Welbeck and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain fit, even Olivier Giroud has blown hot and cold at Arsenal.
Tabloid rumours, meanwhile, link Alexis Sanchez with signing for either Pep Guardiola at Manchester City to continue a pattern of Gunners going north from the Emirates to the Etihad, or joining Bayern Munich.
An unusual signing?
Some cynical observers can be forgiven for putting forward the view that Arsenal have fallen to the point where a late-blooming, one-season wonder such as Vardy seems like an attractive striking option.
Rated 5/1 third-favourites for next season’s Premier League outright betting, the Gunners have become perennial bottlers when enjoying any advantage in the title race. Their slump traditionally comes either side of the customary Champions League last 16 exit.
If Arsenal interest in Vardy is carried through and he signs, then what dimension will he add to their continental club campaign?
Although unexposed on such a stage, he has seldom dealt with European referees that might well take a dim view of his harrying and pressing.
Vardy, in like fashion to that other type of good, old-fashioned English centre forward embodied by Andy Carroll, could well be penalised for his style of play at Champions League level.
Benefits of buying
Moreover, refreshing as Vardy’s somewhat instinctive, unrefined approach to football is, does that sit well as a method of finishing Gunners chances?
Should they tailor service to accomodate him, something Arsenal’s supporting cast have almost never done for Giroud, then all the ingredients are there to be a match made in heaven.
Pacy Spain right back Hector Bellerin and the homegrown contingent in Wenger’s ranks are all capable of playing to the strengths of Vardy.
Big plus for best of British
Jack Wilshere, provided he stays fit, has acquitted himself superbly as a deep-lying playmaker for England during Euro 2016 qualifying.
Wenger has to choose between him or the tactical alternative of Wales international Aaron Ramsey’s box-to-box abilities alongside new signing Granit Xhaka in the engine room.
Out wide, Walcott is no less direct than Vardy and leggy Welbeck’s link-up play when he returns from another lay-off should also suit this prospective new signing.
A clear advantage Vardy enjoys over Giroud is mobility. The France target man cannot make those runs into the channels to produce angled finishes that so much of Arsenal’s play creates.
Diamond in the rough
In this regard, Vardy has some polishing of his own to do, but is far more likely to make the necessary adjustments if carrying his Leicester form into this touted transfer.
Perhaps the key relationship on the pitch to forge, though, is with Mesut Ozil. Finally looking the measure of a player that cost a record Gunners transfer fee in excess of £42m, the Germany central support notched assist after assist in Premier League action.
Ozil should be able to slip Vardy in-behind opponents with ease because of his superior movement to Giroud.
The more analysis that is done on the tactical nuances that will be on offer should the Foxes part with their star striker, then the more Arsenal interest in Vardy makes sense.