With Alexis Sanchez out of contract at the end of the season, Arsene Wenger will need to find a player who can deliver the same impact as the Chilean has since his move from Barcelona, should he choose to leave in the summer.
After a failed move to Manchester City on deadline day, it's no secret that Arsenal's star man is looking elsewhere to reignite his title-winning chances. With this being said, it has been reported
Dries Mertens has now scored 34 goals in 40 Serie A games since the start of last season.— Squawka Football (@Squawka) September 20, 2017
Unstoppable form. pic.twitter.com/Q06eMozZpp
Having played on the wing until last October, Mertens was seen as a useful squad player, but not spectacular by any means. Approaching the 30 year-old milestone, it seemed the little Belgian would continue his role as a bit part player, alternating between Jose Callejon and Lorenzo Insigne in the wide positions.
However, an injury to Arkadiusz Milik, a £30m 2016 summer signing from Ajax, meant Maurizio Sarri had to experiment after Manolo Gabbiandi failed to adequately fill the centre forward role. This ultimately meant that Mertens was presented with the chance to reinvent himself, primarily as a centre forward.
Alessandro Costacurta on Dries Mertens: “This Napoli side would struggle without Mertens more than what Juve would without Dybala." pic.twitter.com/SzUmQhFo6u— Squawka News (@SquawkaNews) September 25, 2017
Napoli finished last season in third behind champions Juventus and second place Roma. They looked a completely new team, with a new found dynamism up front between Lorenzo Insigne and Dries Mertens.
With a low centre of gravity, explosive pace and a thunderous strike, there aren't many other like-for-like replacements for Sanchez who are better than Mertens.
His versatility in terms of being able to play anywhere across the front line would present Arsene Wenger with a whole host of attacking options, similar to what Sanchez currently provides. In addition, Mertens registered 18 assists last season, meaning he can act as both a creative and a goalscoring presence alongside Alexandre Lacazette, as Wenger is unlikely to drop the Frenchman after breaking the club transfer record to sign him.
Only time will tell what the future holds for Alexis Sanchez, who is very likely to leave either in January or in the summer window. If this is the case, Arsenal will need to replace their star man, and Dries Mertens is one of the few players who can match the criteria similar to Sanchez.