Carlos Bacca of Serie A side AC Milan could be the man who will finally fill the gap in Arsenal’s attacking roster. Amid on-going speculation tying the Gunners to a number of high-profile, big-money signings, the 29-year-old Colombian may not be quite the household name fans are hoping for. But compared to others who have been mooted, his transfer could be the most likely of all.
A key reason for that is cost. Take, for example Gonazlo Higuain who has been constantly linked with a move to Arsenal this summer. His price tag is somewhere in the region of £80m. It’s a fee which, according to MailOnline, Juventus are seriously considering meeting. But it seems far beyond what ever-thrifty Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger might be willing to come up with.
Bacca, on the other hand, should be available for significantly less, given reports from Talksport that West Ham have had a £26m offer accepted (reasonable value for money in a transfer market generally considered overinflated) but have so far been unable to agree personal terms with the striker.
A major obstacle preventing the Colombian international from moving to the Hammers appears to be their inability to offer Champions League football. AC Milan manager Vincenzo Montella hinted as much when he told Corriere dello Sport, “Bacca is a player of an international standard. It’s hard to give up a player who guarantees goals. The club will evaluate things with the boy, because he aspires to play in the Champions League.”
Therein lies another important factor pointing toward an ideal marriage between the Milan striker and Arsenal. Football in Europe’s highest club competition is, of course, something which the Gunners can guarantee. Not just for this season but also, presumably, for many seasons to come. A chance to play in Europe’s top tier would represent an important step up for Bacca, who until now has tasted success in only the Europa League with Sevilla (scoring twice in the club’s 3-2 win in the final over Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk in the 2014-15 season).
What’s more, the Colombian forward appears to be under pressure at home to settle his future. According to Italian outlet Gazzetta World, the AC Milan vice-president will sit down with Bacca’s agent in order to push things along. The Red and Blacks are said to be keen on getting a deal done owing to the fact that they are already banking on the money from the transfer to bring in new faces.
That said, the player himself is at least publicly, toeing a respectful line. He told Sky Sports, “I know there is interest from several clubs. But I have a contract with Milan and so I’m talking to them to get a positive solution for me and my family as soon as possible…all options are still open. My first choice is Milan and then we’ll see what happens.”
But in spite of those polite words, there is good reason to believe Bacca will leave the San Siro before the transfer window shuts. It’s clear he believes he should be playing in the Champions League. The fact that the West Ham deal remains on the table suggests that Milan are happy to let him go. All that remains, it would seem, is for one of Europe’s big clubs to step in and make an offer.
Thus on a practical level, the pieces seem to fit. But does Wenger believe the 29-year-old has what it takes to elevate the quality of the squad? In the end, that question may be of secondary importance. Bringing in Bacca could prove a necessary move given injuries and recent international duties mean our preferred frontmen—Olivier Giroud, Alexis Sanchez and Danny Welbeck—are far from fighting fit. Not only that, but it would also give some breathing room to Wenger, who is without a Premier League title for more than a decade, and has long been under pressure to sign a striker.