Saturday, June 15, 2024

Analysis: Ferguson vs. Gyokeres vs. Sesko – Who should be Arsenal’s summer striker signing?

Earlier this month, transfer oracle David Ornstein revealed Arsenal were targeting a striker in the summer. He listed three names, Viktor Gyokeres (Sporting Lisbon), Benjamin Sesko (RB Leipzig) and Evan Ferguson (Brighton).

In evaluating who Arsenal should sign as their striker in the summer, comparing Viktor Gyokeres, Benjamin Sesko, and Evan Ferguson requires a comprehensive look at several key factors: availability, link-up play, goal-scoring ability, ceiling potential, versatility, and price. Each player brings unique strengths and weaknesses to the table, making this decision a complex one for Arsenal’s recruitment team.

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Availability (Injury Record)

Viktor Gyokeres has demonstrated remarkable durability, having played 49 games in the Championship last season and 45 the season before. This level of consistent game time without significant injury speaks volumes about his physical readiness for the demands of top-flight football. According to transfermarkt, Gyokeres has a grand total of ZERO notable injuries in his career to date.

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Benjamin Sesko and Evan Ferguson have shown promise but have not had the same level of consistent game exposure as Gyokeres, partly due to their younger age. Ferguson, in particular, has had some concerns regarding his injury record, which could be a red flag for clubs looking for a player who can contribute immediately and consistently.

Sesko missed 13 games (58 days) with three injuries in the 2021/22 season, but hasn’t been unavailable since.

Ferguson is only listed to have missed 38 days and 7 games, spread across the last two seasons, but he has rarely completed 90 minutes in the Premier League so it remains to be seen how he copes with regular game time demands.

Link-Up Play

Gyokeres has proven his ability to adapt to different styles of play, showing good link-up play in a physically demanding Championship and also in a different style of league like Portugal.  However, stepping up to a league with higher technical demands like the Premier League would be the real test.

Gyokeres links up with his teammates more than the other options, albeit in a weaker league. He averages 25 passes at 75% pass accuracy in the league and that does translate into the Europa at 23 passes and 73% accuracy.

His heatmap above illustrates how despite being a larger physical frame, he gets around the pitch well and presses efficiently. A bit Darwin Nunez-esque, this enthusiasm is sometimes let down by a loose first touch. He counters this often in the Portuguese league by taking several touches, but would he have such time on the ball in the Premier League?

Sesko is another physical striker, standing at 6ft 4’, but has similar challenges around his technical skill. His ability to hold up play and involve teammates makes him a valuable asset as a focal point in attack, but his link up abilities are limited. Albeit a small sample size, Sesko averages just 10 passes per 90 at a poor success rate of 66%.

Ferguson has shown glimpses of good link-up play, but his development in this area is still ongoing. His youth and potential suggest he could improve significantly with the right coaching and with 12.5 passes per game at a 82% success rate in the Premier League, he’s shown more promise than Sesko in this aspect.

Goalscoring

Gyokeres has a proven track record in the Championship and Portuguese division, but questions remain about his ability to translate this form to the Premier League. He’s been on absolute fire at the time of writing, netting 19 goals in 23 league games and 5 in 8 in Europe this season.

Sesko has demonstrated a keen goal-scoring instinct at a young age, competing at a high level in European football. His ability to score in various ways makes him a potent threat but he’s yet to nail down a starting spot and has netted 7 league goals at the time of writing.

Ferguson is still developing his goal-scoring prowess but has shown potential in youth and domestic competitions. His ceiling in this area could be high with proper development. Ferguson scored a hattrick early on in the season but since then has only scored 3 more, despite featuring in 26 Premier League games. It’s fair to say he’s yet to reach the expectations set on him, but has so much room for growth still aged just 19.

Ceiling Potential

Gyokeres, being older than Sesko and Ferguson, might not have the same potential for growth. However, his proven durability and consistent performance offer a known quantity.

Sesko and Ferguson both have high ceilings due to their youth and already impressive skill sets but it is a gamble that they ever even reach the level Gyokeres is currently performing.

Price

Sporting Lisbon are likely to demand any interested parties pay Gyokeres release clause, believed to be around £86million. That’s a lot of money, but despite his mixed performances to date, Brighton are likely to want more than that to sell Ferguson.

Sesko is likely the cheapest option of the three, but with widespread interest across Europe, RB Leipzig are still likely to want close to £50million to sell him.

Conclusion

The decision for Arsenal hinges on what they prioritise. If they seek a durable, proven option who can contribute immediately, Gyokeres is likely the safest bet. Sesko represents a high-potential, option that could pay off significantly if he reaches his ceiling. Ferguson offers a balance between potential and risk, with his development and injury history being key considerations.

Ultimately, Arsenal’s choice will reflect their ambition and showcase Mikel Arteta and Edu’s strategy for the attack in the coming years. So long as the club makes suitable sales, their willingness to go big in the market again appears obvious. Each player offers different attributes, and the decision will likely come down to the specific needs and strategy of the club moving forward.

What’s interesting is that Arsenal are currently frequently operating without a natural ‘number 9’ but all three of these options are more established, traditional centre forwards, so signing any of these would either highlight a shift in approach or simply be adding an additional bow to the arsenal.

 

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