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Icardi better than Aubameyang in one major way - but he would create problem

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With rumours persisting about Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s future at the Emirates, Arsenal may soon find themselves needing to bring in a replacement for their star man.

The Gabonese striker has been carrying the weight of Arsenal’s goal-scoring responsibilities since his arrival from Borussia Dortmund in 2018, so if he is to leave the club, it is imperative Mikel Arteta finds a player who could either match or better the striker’s achievements in red and white.

One name that emerged as an unlikely target for the Gunners in Inter Milan’s Mauro Icardi with reports suggesting the Italian side are prepared to offer the Argentine hitman in exchange for Aubameyang.

The 27-year-old has been with the Nerrazurri for seven years following his move from Serie A rivals Sampdoria in 2013, scoring 124 goals in all competitions in that time, putting him up in eighth on the club’s all time top scorer list.

However, after falling out of favour under Antonio Conte, losing the captain’s armband, and the club’s purchase of Romelu Lukaku, Icardi has spent this season on loan at Paris Saint-Germain.

Icardi’s departure from the Italian club seems imminent but whether Arsenal is the destination remains to be seen.

If he does end up at the Emirates, Icardi’s goal record will be of no concern with the hitman scoring goals wherever he’s been.

His first year in Serie A as a teenager with Sampdoria saw him score 10 times, helping the club fend off relegation and attract the attention of the Milanese giants.

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At the San Siro, Icardi would win the Serie A Golden Boot twice including scoring 29 times in 2017/18 as he shared the honour with Ciro Imobile.

Beyond his goalscoring feats, his overall influence would earn him club captaincy in 2015, aged just 22.

Even after losing his place in the side last season, the striker would flourish in Paris scoring 20 times in all competitions - including a League Cup hat-trick against St Etienne - as PSG topped the table and were awarded Ligue Un following the suspension of football.

Currently, Arsenal are down in eighth when it comes to goals scored in the division despite Aubamyang’s presence.

The Gunners are thirteenth when it comes to big chances created with 38, and fourteenth when it comes to shots with 312 - behind the likes of relegation threatened Norwich and Aston Villa.

Icardi’s impressive finishing would likely go some way to improving these stats in Arsenal’s favour.

Comparing league records, Aubameyang leads with 17 Premier League goals to Icardi’s 12 in Ligue Un, however, with Icardi’s goals coming from fewer minutes played (1268 to 2305 via Football Critic), he averages a goal every 105 minutes compared to the Arsenal man’s 135.

Should a move materialise however, Arteta would almost certainly need to change the way Arsenal play.

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Currently, Aubameyang’s pace sees him often deployed in one of the wide forward positions whereas the slower Icardi operates more as a traditional number nine.

Years ago, Arsene Wenger described his ultimately ill-fated signing Francis Jeffers as a ‘fox in the box’ and years later, it’s a description that can't be more apt for Icardi given his inclination for finding space in the penalty area where almost all of his goals come from.

With Arsenal focusing a lot of their attacks down the wings, the crossing of the likes of Nicolas Pepe, Hector Bellerin and Bukayo Saka would almost certainly see the prolific striker taking full advantage.

The striker is also lauded for his strength which means he is unlikely to be intimidated by the physical nature of the Premier League.

As a focal point, his role is also more about holding up the ball in order to bring others into play, which could be beneficial for other Gunners forwards Pepe and Gabriel Martinelli who would be able to play off him and use their pace to get in behind.

In fact, an ideal scenario for Arteta would be to have both Icardi and Aubameyang but that seems unlikely.

Naturally, losing Aubameyang would be a blow given everything his importance to the team but if Arteta could bring in Icardi, the Argentine striker could definitely offset the loss as well as bring a different dimension to the Gunners in order to get them firing once more.




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