In January, Mikel Arteta did not make any senior additions to his squad, which left many supporters feeling that the team needed more firepower up top. Eddie Nketiah and Gabriel Jesus struggled to score goals, and there were reports that Edu had earmarked former Santos youngster Marcos Leonardo as a potential attacking target. According to HITC, the Gunners transfer chief is a ‘huge admirer’ of Marcos Leonardo and would have been willing to match Benfica’s successful £15.8million bid. However, by the time Benfica’s swoop became public knowledge, it was too late for Arsenal to make a proposal of their own.
Edu believed Marcos Leonardo would still be available in the summer and chose to hold fire. Marcos Leonardo has made a strong start to life in Portugal, scoring three goals in just three appearances off the bench for Benfica. Other striker targets for Arsenal would have come with significantly higher price tags, with Brentford, for example, set to demand around £80m for Ivan Toney. Marcos Leonardo was known as one of the brightest young talents in South American football during his time at Santos.
In the vital 3-1 win over Liverpool, Arsenal’s wide men, Bukayo Saka and Gabriel Martinelli, were relied upon to provide the attacking support that the central striker had been unable to deliver. Arsenal currently sits third in the Premier League table, just two points behind league-leaders Liverpool. Edu and Mikel Arteta will hope that their decision not to pursue a new frontman in January won’t come back to haunt them.