Arsenal’s new signing might be considered “Theo 2.0” with his list of uncanny similarities. He is Southampton’s second youngest starting XI player to make his debut, with the first being Theo. He too is a speedy centre forward who also plays on the wing, and has a promising future both at club level as well as with the Three Lions – much like TW14. And being bought for a significant fee, there’s big expectations despite his young age.
With the total fee package worth about £15m, falling just short of Arshavin’s record Arsenal price tag, Alex represents a significant investment – or gamble, depending on who you ask. He has played only 36 games for Southampton, and at 18 years old (as of next Thursday) he is still growing both physically and mentally. As well, his brief professional experience with the Hampshire club was all in League One, though he did help them secure promotion to the Championship earlier this year. This is all a little worrying when it is looking increasing likely that Cesc will be on his way out this summer, Nasri’s future continues to be as uncertain as ever, and Arsenal has yet to buy proper central defenders in the summer transfer window.
Arsenal’s overall woes aside however, it’s worth looking at the upside of our new youngster. He is a long-time admirer of both Arsenal FC and Arsene Wenger and particularly, the style of play that Wenger is known for. This is a boy whose pre-teen years were spent watching Henry, Pires, and the rest of the team dominate the league in the early and mid 2000s. Alex has voiced his admiration for Henry, and appears to have modeled himself in the same dynamic mould that our all-time top scorer was known for. His pedigree is good too, if you take any stock in that; both his father and uncle were professional footballers, the latter being capped by England. As well, I’ve been told he’s two-footed, not afraid of a robust challenge, and has a strong, non-lanky build at 5’11”.
So, will Alex turn out to be a signing with the impact of Bergkamp? Take years to develop much like Theo? Or be another English flop like Francis Jeffers? Let’s just say I don’t think many Gunners will stomach selling Cesc and replacing him with a mediocre player for half of that rumoured transfer fee.
But I do admit I like the idea an insanely speedy front three of Oxlade-Chamberlain, Gervinho, and Theo…