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Arsenal have identified Real Sociedad’s Alexander Isak as an alternative amid Dusan Vlahovic transfer doubts

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GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - JUNE 29: Sweden's Alexander Isak goes close with a shot during the UEFA Euro 2020 round of 16 match between Sweden and Ukraine at Hampden Park, on June 29, 2021, in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Ross Parker/SNS Group via Getty Images)

Arsenal are now actively pursuing a move for Alexander Isak amid doubts over whether their bid to sign Dusan Vlahovic will succeed, according to a report from The Athletic.

🚨 Arsenal are actively exploring alternatives such as Alexander Isak 🇸🇪 after the Gunners finding it difficult to find an agreement with Vlahović 🇷🇸 and reps. Arsenal would attempt to negotiate a lower price for Isak, who has a release clause.🔴 #AFC

(via @David_Ornstein🌕

The Gunners have been heavily linked with Vlahovic throughout the January transfer window.

In fact, it was claimed that Arsenal were prepared to pay over £70 million for the Serbian.

Vlahovic has been in excellent form this term with 20 goals across all competitions, and there are no surprises that he is attracting interest from several elite European clubs.

Who’s Arsenal’s target Dusan Vlahovic? 

The Gunners are the only ones who have made an approach to sign him this month, and they are willing to meet the transfer valuation of the Serie A outfit.

However, the Serbian has no plans of leaving Florence midway through the campaign, and plans to see out the season before pursuing a bigger challenge elsewhere.

But there are increasing doubts over whether Arsenal can convince Vlahovic to move to the Premier League.

With Lacazette underperfoming, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang out of favour and unavailable, and Eddie Nketiah only afforded limited opportunities, the need for a new striker before the end of the transfer window is increasingly urgent.

Arsenal have not won a single game in any competition this month. And they have failed to score in their last four matches since 2005 and the first time not to beat a team in the League last position since 4:4 draw to Tottenham in 2008.

Arsenal are considering other striking targets, including Alexander Isak, Jonathan David and Dominic Calvert-Lewin.

Of those, Real Sociedad striker Isak appears the easiest deal to complete in the next seven days given he has a release clause in his contract believed to be worth £75million according to Marca.

With Arsenal doubtful whether they will be able to sign Vlahovic from Fiorentina in the January transfer window.

So, the Gunners are ready to pay Isak £75m as they’re ‘actively exploring alternative options’

But why would Arsenal, potentially, gamble so much on launching a move for a relatively unknown player to English football and one that is only 21-years-old?

Isak has been a long-term target for the north London giants. They were heavily linked with him in the last transfer window before he put pen-to-paper on a renewal.

His record this term has not been overly impressive with just eight goals from 25 outings, but has shown plenty of potential with his link-up play and dribbling qualities.

The 22-year-old has been touted to become a star of the future, but there will be question marks raised, particularly if the club end up spending a club-record fee.

They could sign a top quality Premier League striker for less- Ivan Toney, but the chances are slim that any of their domestic rival would be willing to lose their player at this stage.

Sociedad are in the race for the La Liga top four, and surely they will not sell want to sell Isak for anything less than the reported release clause of £75 million.

The 22-year-old has scored four goals and given one assist in 15 La Liga starts so far this season.

Alexander Isak rise to Fame 

Isak is a 21-year-old striker, born in Stockholm, and raised by Eritrea parents.

Isak began his footballing career at the age of just six-years-old, joining his boyhood club AIK.

After working his way through the youth ranks at the Swedish outfit, Isak made his senior debut for the first-team in February 2016, as a substitutes in a 6-0 win over Telhults IF in the Swedish Cup. Fittingly, he also marked the occasion with a goal

Despite only being 16 at the time, he soon cemented himself as a regular within the first-team and finished his first campaign in the team with 11 goals in 26 appearances.

The following season, Isak secured a big move to German giants Borussia Dortmund, signing for the Bundesliga club in January 2017. The fee was undisclosed but thought to be around the €9million mark.

Despite the fact, he was considered as one of the hottest properties in Europe, he struggled to make the impact at Dortmund that he and many others had hoped for.

He scored just one goal, which came in the DFB-Pokal against FC Magdeburg.

With the 2018/19 campaign threatening to be another one of disappointment in Germany, the Swede joined Dutch outfit Willem II on loan in January 2019 for the remainder of the season.

Proving to be a wise decision in his young career, he scored 14 goals in 18 games, as well as claiming seven assists.

Those performances caught the attention of Real Sociedad, who brought him on a five-year deal in June 2019 bringing his Dortmund woes to an end.

His maiden season in Spain saw him score 16 goals in all competitions, but only nine in 37 La Liga outings.

The 2020/21 campaign, however, proved to be much more captivating for the youngster, as he scored 17 times in 34 La Liga appearance drawing comparison with the biggest strikers in the world as well as attracting interest from some of the biggest clubs around Europe and it comes as no surprise, too, especially given his stellar performances for Sweden during this summer’s European Championships in the absence of Swedish talisman Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

That same season, he also became the youngest player since Ronaldo Nazario to score in seven successive games in the competition.

The Next Zlatan Ibrahimovic? 

Zlatan Ibrahimovic of Sweden replaces teammate Alexander Isak during the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qualifier match between Spain and Sweden (Getty Images)

While it seems absolutely childish and ludicrous comparing two players with each other as such that everyone is different talent wise and ability wise.

However,It is difficult to not speak about the comparison between Isak and 2013 Puskas award winner.

Both are tall strikers, with Isak standing at 1.90 meters. Additionally, they are both technically gifted despite being tall and are quite skinny too (Zlatan was also skinny when he started).

On his 17th birthday in a match The big Stockholm derby between Djurgarden and AIK – the big Stockholm Derby is where Isak first earned the iconic comparison with the football legend Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

He scored twice in a 3:0 win in a crucial title deciding match of the season.

He’s a big talent, he has enormous potential,” said then team-mate Chinedu Obasi, who became one of the first to compare Isak to the country’s biggest football icon. “He can become the new Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

As time goes by, everyone clearly has seen the light. Like Ibrahimovic, Isak has a big frame and can score spectacular goals, along with boasting excellent technical qualities. He can carry the ball with big strides, outpace defenders and finish smoothly , scoring with his left as well as his stronger right, and his head.

Big games don’t phase him, as we have saw often against the Spanish giants – Barcelona & Real Madrid.

“It’s a comparison we’ve heard in Sweden as well, as there are a few similarities. The way Isak broke through from nowhere so quickly as a teenager in the Swedish league – it hasn’t been seen since Zlatan,” Jonson(Swedish journalist) told Goal.

At international level, he is recognised as the future of Swedish football and the attacking heir to Zlatan Ibrahimovic which he clearly shown in 2020 Euro that he’s worthy to fill the boots.

GLASGOW, SCOTLAND – JUNE 29: Sweden’s Alexander Isak  in action 🆚 Sweden in the UEFA Euro 2020 round of 16  (Getty Images)

Isak’s Strengths and Weaknesses 

As Isak is touted as the ‘new Ibrahimovic’, it comes as no surprise that the 20-year-old is quite tall and stands at 6’2”.

However, he is much more than a target man as he is more of a complete striker. He can hold the ball up and win aerial duels with his size and strength but has only won 38% of his aerial duels.

Alexander Isak of Real Sociedad in action (Getty Images)

Isak’s real strengths as a striker lie in running in behind the defensive line especially in counter-attacking situations and his willingness and ability to drive with the ball with speed.

Isak is a striker that likes to get involved in the play, makes smart runs and is able to connect with his teammates well like Lacazette and not just be a target man. Additionally, he has the technical ability and conditions to do so well than Lacazette. According to FBref.com

His positioning and movement for the ball are exemplary too which attracts comparison with Arsenal Legend Thierry Henry- He can hit the right corner more regularly, rifle shots in for fun and can also make a committed vertical movements in the area burying the ball at the dead end of the post.

However, his first touch lacks consistency, as do some of his short passes and despite his height, Isak doesn’t quite possess the aerial ability that you would expect from a 6ft 3inch forward, averaging just 1.66 successful aerial duels per game.

How does he fare in his comparison with Vlahovic?

With the pursuit of Dusan Vlahovic seems to have hit a dead end, Isak is another alternative that can be pursued instead of the Fiorentina targetman.

Like Vlahovic, Isak already has a lot of experience for his young age, so he fits the profile Arsenal have been recruiting from in the last couple of windows.

Before this campaign, 22-year-old Isak seemed to be heading on a positive trajectory with Sociedad. He scored nine league goals in his debut campaign (16 in all competitions) and 17 league goals in his second season.

Though his goals may have dried up a little, the striker’s underlying numbers suggest he’s still a player with a lot of potential.

Below is according to Squawka stats :

Most league goals scored by current U23 players in Europe’s top five divisions since 2019/20:

◎ Kylian Mbappé (54)

◎ Erling Haaland (53)

◎ Dušan Vlahović (43)

◉ Alexander Isak (30)

#SquawkaScout https://t.co/pdXYR07806

Most non-penalty league goals scored by current U23 players in Europe’s top five divisions since 2019/20:

◎ Erling Haaland (48)

◎ Kylian Mbappé (46)

◎ Dušan Vlahović (31)

◉ Alexander Isak (29)

 

We can see from above the the is similar profile to Vlahovic if not better than him considering the fact he’s playing in Spanish League while Vlahovic in Seria A league where most players have struggled to hit their form when outside the Italian league even including Chelsea record signing Romelu Lukaku.

Also, unlike Vlahovic it seems as though Isak’s long-term future may lie in England, with the young player suggesting as much in an interview with the Independent.

“I am in a good place at the moment, I am very happy, but one day it would be nice to play in England as well,” said the Sweden international.

“They have six or seven of the biggest clubs in the world, it is a very high level, and of course one day it would be an alternative. Every player wants to be the best version of themselves and reach the highest possible level.

“I have expectations for myself that I’m trying to fulfil, so we’ll see where the journey takes me in future.”.

The rising star also reveals his game is modeled on the French and believes they share similar qualities.

He said: “I have a lot of football players who I have looked up to & have taken a lot from, but if I have to name one, I would say Thierry Henry, who I have really liked all the time & where I see many qualities that I have tried to follow.”

Also, Isak has another link to the Gunners, having played alongside Martin Odegaard for a season when he joined Sociedad, a campaign in which the Arsenal midfielder was at his brilliant best.

(Getty Images)

Isak’s presence up front and Odegaard’s creativity behind him saw the pair develop a good understanding as the latter racked up seven goals and provided nine assists in 36 games for Sociedad in 2019-20

“He will be a good signing. Another young talented player. He has done really well in the Euros for Sweden, I thought. He is a talented player, man.” According to Premiership Legend Rio Ferdinand on his YouTube channel 

Conclusion

Isak remains a wonderkid with a lot of untapped potential but is on his way of proving to the world that he can become one of Europe’s elite marksmen.

The young Swede is gaining invaluable experience in a top-five league and has the potential to live up to the lofty expectation of being the ‘new Zlatan Ibrahimovic’.

There are still holes in his game but the fact that he has an all-round game, it bodes well for the future and as an asset that will prove to be invaluable especially under the steward of Arsenal coach Mikel Arteta.

Do you like Isak in Arsenal’s shirt? Drop your opinion(s) in the comment box.

 

 

 

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