Baptista's Gone - Now What?
After Julio Baptista confirmed that he will not be making his loan move to Arsenal a permanent one and Jeremie Aliadiere looking likely to move on, there's a space in Arsenal's attacking line up.
So what has Arsene got planned?
As far as I can see there are few options available to the Arsenal manager.
The first is that he can sign no one. Bendtner is likely to replace Julio Baptista, and someone like Rui Fonte, Jay Thomas or Vincent Van Den Berg can be brought into the first team. Walcott is also likely to play a lot more games up front next season after spending much of this season playing as a winger. If that's the path Arsene Wenger chooses to go down then he'll have the following strikers at his disposal: Theirry Henry, Robin Van Persie, Manu Adebayor, Niklas Bendtner, Theo Walcott and one of the youngsters I mentioned.
He could also go down a very similar route to the previously mentioned one but bring Carlos Vela back early from Spain. The original plan was for Carlos to spend the coming season playing in La Liga but Arsenal have applied, and been successful in their bid to get special dispensation for Vela to come to Arsenal in the summer.
The other is that he makes a signing. We've been linked with just about every top striker in Europe in the last few weeks. According to the press Arsenal are going to sign everyone from Saha to Eto'o. It's unlikely that someone of Eto'o caliber would arrive so soon after the move to The Emirates Stadium. The financial burden is still too great to splash £30 Million on one player. There is one striker plying his trade in Spain who Arsenal have been linked with for the last 2 years - Robinho. Arsenal were beaten to his signature by Real Madrid 2 summers ago, but the slight Brazilian has not met the expectations of the demanding Real Madrid fans. The Spanish giants have already named their price for him (£12 Million). Arsenal reportedly failed with a bid in the January transfer window, and Wenger may be tempted to make another move for the samba star. Versatile Ajax forward Ryan Babel has also been linked with Arsenal for some months now and he's certainly an Arsenal-type player.
Or, and this is what I think is most likely, he can stick with what he has now. Henry, Van Persie, Adebayor, Walcott and Bendtner with Aliadiere being shown the door.
Either way, we're still in for a summer of rumor after rumor so strap yourselves in.