Vlahovic’s Ronaldo-equalling rasper: The goal of Arsenal’s dream striker
Where Dusan Vlahovic decides to go next is going to be one of the most important transfers in 2022.
Even if you don’t know much about him and are unsure of his ability, every football outlet over the coming months will be flooded with stories of different Premier League clubs vying for his signature in the belief that he is the next striker to dramatically change the landscape of the Premier League.
His 33rd goal in the Serie A in 2021 showed why he is so fought over – and why the Premier League makes perfect sense as the next league for him to conquer.
Many may focus on Vlahovic’s flashy goals, and there are plenty of those highlight-worthy moments that always do the rounds on social media.
But you can’t always account for the quality of goalkeeping nor the defence in those situations.
Instead, let’s take his less flashy record-breaking strike against Sassuolo.
Firstly, it equalled the record for the most Serie A goals in a calendar year, seeing Vlahovic climb to the summit of Serie A history to stand alongside Cristiano Ronaldo as the Portuguese’s only equal.
But secondly, take the goal itself, for it highlights perfectly why Premier League clubs are on their knees begging for the Serbian to pick them.
What sets apart the Premier League from other leagues as its stereotypical defining characteristic? If Serie A is defence-first football, La Liga is technique and Ligue 1 is, er, efficient ploughing (we’re joking, don’t get het up), then the Premier League is all about physicality and power.
This was a goal that demonstrated Vlahovic is full of both. His side is embroiled in a battle for European places in no small part thanks to his outrageous scoring record, and when Fiorentina found themselves two down to Sassuolo is it any surprise Vlahovic started the comeback?
Sent through on goal, his positioning and timing meaning no defender was near him, the rest was a formality.
The power with which the Serbian runs is beyond impressive. He is an unstoppable steam train in full flow. You could lie and say he still runs gracefully but he doesn’t; he is pure power and efficiency and that’s OK, the Premier League oft cares little for grace and decorum.
Dün ilk yarısını geride kapattığımız Sassuolo maçının ikinci yarısında eşitliği sağlayan gollerimiz;
— Fiorentina Türkiye🇹🇷🇮🇹 (@Fiorentinatr1) December 20, 2021
However, what is technically beautiful is his finishing, and the goal versus Sassuolo highlighted that perfectly.
He opened his body up as if he was adopting the starting position for a Flamenco, but the goalkeeper thought they were going to be breakdancing instead so he flew himself to the floor in an effort to stifle Vlahovic’s low driven shot.
No matter, the Serbian instead unleashed a rocket with the inside of his foot which rose over the ‘keeper and would have kept rising if it wasn’t for the net.
Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk might be working out how to get into space so they can ruin that as well, but if they just watched 30 seconds of Vlahovic play they’d learn all they’d need to about sending stuff into orbit with precision.
Stop that Dusan Vlahovic.
— Stop That Vlahovic (@StopItVlahovic) December 20, 2021
Of the Premier League clubs linked with Vlahovic, Arsenal and Manchester City appear the most in reports.
With Ferran Torres on the way out and City’s total lack of an actual striker they could do with him, but it is likely their thoughts lie with the Norwegian freight train currently charging in Dortmund rather than the Serbian steam engine that is carrying Fiorentina.
Now Arsenal is an intriguing prospect.
They have hit good form and seem set to mount their best challenge for the top four in a long, long time. And they need a striker, with the relations with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang collapsing, Alexandre Lacazette out of contract next summer, and Eddie ‘Carabao Cup’ Nketiah the same.
Vlahovic could potentially turn a decent Arsenal side into a very good one and could make them serious contenders for Champions League football again. Rather than just this being a good run of form, a consistent goalscorer would turn them into a force to be reckoned with.
Now the biggest job for Arsenal is convincing him they are the right destination and scrabbling about for the coins down the back of the sofa to get the transfer fee together.
They spent heavily in the summer, so another major outlay may be seen as a bit of a stretch internally. But they sit in fourth and a top-class front-man could help them push for the Champions League football again. Is the gamble worth it?
Either way, the Vlahovic steam train seems destined for the Premier League sooner rather than later. You better get on now, because once it starts moving, it won’t stop.
By Patrick Ryan