Arsenal transfer chief Edu shot himself in the foot by pulling out of £75m deal


Arsenal sporting director Edu could have solved the club's striker shortage two years ago. Instead, the Gunners turned their back on a move for Alexander Isak due to Real Sociedad's asking price. The Swede's exceptional first 18 months at Newcastle United will therefore have been uncomfortable viewing for those in north London.

Isak was a serious target for Arsenal in the winter of 2022, when Edu reported back to Arteta with the news that the striker was available for just under £75million. The Gunners ultimately decided against pursuing a deal and ended the month without signing anyone to bolster their front-line.

Newcastle took on the gamble less than a year later, forking out £63m to Sociedad following a campaign in which Isak had managed only six La Liga goals. But the move has proven to be a masterstroke from the recruitment specialists on Tyneside.

Despite injuries complicating his start to Premier League life, Isak has still managed 23 goals in 49 appearances across all competitions.

The 24-year-old's haul of nine Premier League goals in 2023/24 is three more than any Arsenal player has managed. Bukayo Saka leads the way with six, while strikers Eddie Nketiah and Gabriel Jesus trail behind with five and three respectively.

Opting out of a move for Isak may now be a source of regret for Edu and Arteta as they scour the market for a striker to bring new-found potency to the Emirates Stadium.

Ivan Toney is expected to stay at Brentford until at least the end of the season once he returns from an eight-month ban. Meanwhile, Victor Osimhen's new deal at Napoli includes a nine-figure release clause which surely lies beyond Arsenal's reach.

Not due to turn 25 until the start of next campaign, Isak's trajectory should continue trending upwards and Newcastle will reap the benefits. The towering 6ft 4in striker already has experience playing in Germany, the Netherlands and Spain on his CV, as well as an extensive catalogue of international caps with Sweden.

Last month, Express Sport spoke to England legend Stuart Pearce, who believes that Arsenal should go after a striker in January to boost their title race credentials. "You look at some of the high-flying teams around the world, they might have four options up front," he explained.

"There are still slight questions marks about Nketiah and Jesus. Maybe even if Havertz plays up top, there's a question mark there. If an out-and-out goal scorer that guarantees 20-odd goals a season [becomes available], that would pushed Arsenal's credentials even further."

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