Arsenal are closing in on their second signing of the summer, with reports in Europe suggesting that the club have made a bid for Leicester City striker Jamie Vardy.
The story was first broken yesterday by The Guardian’s Stuart James, who reported that Arsenal had triggered the £20 million ($29 million) release clause in Vardy’s contract with Leicester which he signed just this past February. In the following hours, the story was lapped up by a series of soccer journalists, with several credible sources, including BBC, confirming that Arsenal had indeed triggered the release clause and wanted to wrap up the deal before Vardy heads to the Euros with England on Monday.
Arsene Wenger has traditionally been a conservative buyer, preferring to polish young players rather than splurging the cash on proven talents. But the fact that he is now entering the last year of his contract with Arsenal, coupled with the almost incessant pressure on him to deliver silverware, means that Arsenal are witnessing a shift in their transfer policy this year.
They have already spent in excess of £30 million ($43.5 million) on Swedish midfielder Granit Xhaka, and if they go through with the signing of Vardy, he would only be the fourth player in the history of Arsenal Football Club to have cost more than £20 million ($29 million).
According to reports, the ball now remains in Jamie Vardy’s court, and should he want to move on to a bigger club having just won the Premier League with Leicester, the latter would be powerless to stop him.
“Talks have taken place and it would now appear that the ball is in Vardy’s court as to whether he wants to leave the Premier League champions and move to Arsenalat a critical juncture in his career. He turns 30 in January, he has been playing the best football of his life, and it is almost a case of now or never in terms of whether he leaves Leicester for one of the Premier League heavyweights.”
When Italian newspaper Italian newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport questioned Leicester City manager Claudio Ranieri on the emerging transfer news, and whether Arsenal had made a bid for their star striker, the Italian conceded that it was “all true.”
Ranieri had earlier asked his players to remain at Leicester for one more year after their historic underdog Premier League triumph took the world by surprise, but considering Vardy’s age, he could be forgiven if he chose to move to north London with Arsenal.
If that was eventually to be the case, Leicester’s fans wouldn’t be pleased with the news, and Metro reports that Vardy’s wife, Rebekah Vardy, has already been receiving stick online by Leicester fans for what they perceive as an act of betrayal by their star striker.
On the other hand, Arsenal fans have been divided on the issue, with some welcoming the move by Arsene Wenger, but others saying that Arsenal’s style of play would not suit Vardy, who uses his pace and striking ability best in counter-attacking situations.
There is little doubt that Vardy, or Arsenal, will have to change their ways to fit each other’s style of play, but if he were to accept the offer and move to the Gunners, he could be rest assured that Arsene Wenger will do all in his power to make him an even better player.
In any case, at 29, Jamie Vardy remains a gamble for Arsenal, but the modest fee he would demand, coupled with the fact that he seems to be in the best form of his life, would mean that Arsenal, and Wenger, could be willing to take that gamble.
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