From what I have heard and read in these last 72 hours, opinion is split on whether Jamie Vardy could replicate his Leicester form in an Arsenal shirt.
One of the points that is often made to support the sceptic’s view is that Vardy’s success has been based largely on the system which was employed by Claudio Ranieri last season.
That is to say, many believe that Vardy is at his best with acres of space to run into, benefitting from the swift, long-ball counter-attacking that proved so successful for the Foxes in their title-winning campaign.
Certainly, the evidence of last season supports that Vardy is well-suited to that system. But, by that same token, there is no evidence to say that he is incapable of playing another way.
Arsenal don’t play long-ball football. While Arsene Wenger remains at the helm, they will continue not playing long-ball football. It doesn’t fit with Arsene’s philosophy and it never will. It’s like trying to force a marshmallow into a money box. Not going to happen.
If the 29-year-old England international becomes a Gunner next week, it won’t fundamentally change the way Arsenal play, so he will have to adapt to whatever system Arsene thinks best for him. Chances are, that won’t be too far different to the system he employed last season.
Vardy scored 24 Premier League goals last season – an excellent return by any stretch. Can he match that in 2016/17 if he becomes an Arsenal player? In truth, there is no way to be certain.
But what is clear is that he has an eye for goals and is a very capable finisher – even a cursory look at his career statistics will confirm as much.
Undoubtedly, he has never had the pressure of performing in the Champions League, among the leading lights in world football, but that is scarcely of his own doing.
At every club he has played for, he has scored goals. He managed 27 in 37 games at FC Halifax, 31 in 36 at Fleetwood Town, and 49 in 133 for Leicester City. He has even managed three goals in eight games for England. Nothing has been gift-wrapped for him, he has had to fight his way up the ladder.
Primarily, his talent lies in putting the ball into the back of the net. Is that ability dependant on the system in which he plays? I doubt it. The system employed by Ranieri may well have played to his strengths, but I don’t see that his ability to finish will be hampered by playing a different way.
Should he move to the Emirates, what will prove key to his success is the ability to make the right and runs, and get into the right positions. He will no longer be able to simply turn and bolt into space, waiting for the inevitable ball over the top to run onto.
At Arsenal, he will have to be smarter than that, he will have to find his own space with deft movement and clever positioning.
With Cazorla, Ozil and Xhaka behind him, he will not lack for service, and he will not lack for opportunities. If he can continue to show the sort of efficiency in front of goal that he has shown throughout his career, there is no reason why he shouldn’t continue to perform.
A move to Arsenal, should it happen, will be a real step up in class for him and the camera lenses, the media, and the naysayers will be watching him closely, willing him to fail. Can he handle that sort of scrutiny, such as he has never had before?
Time will tell.