A rumoured Arsenal double swoop on Real Sociedad for 32-goal forward pair Antoine Griezmann and Carlos Vela has been doing the rounds for some time now, but if the Emirates scouts have been paying attention they will have reported back on a third talent plying his trade in Basque country.
The Gunners are 10/1 to break their decade-long Premier League title duck in 2014/15, having won ‘the stamina league’ last term – according to boss Arsene Wenger – by virtue of staying at the top of the pile longer than all of the other sides combined.
Few are buying the Frenchman’s analogy, but he will have to spend some money this summer on at least one striker after his centre-forward trio bagged just 18 goals between them in 2013/14, with Olivier Giroud accounting for all but two of those.
It looks like Wenger’s on the right track with Griezmann and former Gunner Vela, who bagged 16 La Liga goals apiece to claim joint-sixth place in Spain’s striker rankings ahead of sought-after Sevilla man Carlos Bacca, La Roja stalwart David Villa and Welsh sensation Gareth Bale.
However, even the north Londoners’ most forward-thinking representatives could not have failed to notice the continuing development of centre-half Inigo Martinez in San Sebastian.
The 23-year-old Basque native has reportedly come up on Manchester United’s radar after a third fine season in a row and he will expect to push for a regular spot in Spain’s squad after the World Cup, having made his sole senior international appearance against Ecuador in August 2013.
Like current Gunners stopper Thomas Vermaelen, who is expected to leave Arsenal this summer after two seasons on the sidelines, Martinez is a left-footed centre-half around the 6ft mark who can also do a job at left-back.
The pair have similar strike-rates for their current clubs, with Vermaelen’s 13 in 110 Arsenal appearances slightly superior to the younger man’s nine in 95 for La Real, and both are surprisingly good in the air despite their diminutive statures compared to most top clubs’ centre-halves.
Wenger could certainly use some reinforcements within his defensive ranks, as part-time centre-half Bacary Sagna also looks sure to leave on a free transfer this summer and with Liverpool also thought to be sniffing around Martinez, a triple-raid on Jagoba Arrasate’s side should be given due consideration.