According to ESPN FC, Arsenal have tapped Fulham striker Moussa Dembele as a transfer target. The 19-year old’s contract ends at the end of June and he does not plan on extending his stay at Craven Cottage, making him available for a free transfer.
Sources close to the player have told ESPN that Arsenal have joined the race in their bid to bolster their striking force. The forward position is a priority for the Gunners this transfer window and they are currently waiting on a decision from Jamie Vardy.
They activated the Leicester City striker’s transfer clause and agreed personal terms with the player a week and a half ago. Vardy is expected to decide on his future once England’s participation in Euro 2016 concludes.
Dembele came close to joining Tottenham Hotspur this past winter, but the move fell through at the last. The player is reportedly a target for a number of clubs including Chelsea, who invited Dembele to their match against Manchester City in April.
Dembele, a France under-20 international, scored 15 goals in 43 appearances in the Championship for Fulham last season – good enough to lead their scoring charts. Dembele signed for Fulham as a youth player from PSG in 2012. He made two Premier League appearances during the 2013-2014 season before Fulham were relegated to the Championship.
A possible move for Dembele is unrelated to and has no consequence on the prospective Vardy transfer. Arsenal needs a striker who is proven and can start immediately. But, they also need a young striker that can develop behind the senior players, fill in from the bench, and play in relief. At the moment there is no player like that at the club.
Yaya Sanogo has experienced three failed loan moves in the past year and a half, and while Chuba Akpom is still a player with potential, his past season on loan with Hull in the Championship was less than impressive.
In terms of numbers, Arsenal are worryingly short in the striker department. Danny Welbeck will miss most of next season with a knee injury and Theo Walcott has shown he’s not a reliable choice at that position. That leaves Olivier Giroud as the only out and out striker in the squad, with Alexis capable of filling in when needed.
Signing two strikers this summer makes sense, and an experienced striker jettisoned in with a young forward for the future is the logical course of action.