Arsenal hasten search for new striker after UCL exit - sources

Arsenal are stepping up their search for at least one new forward following this week's Champions League exit to Bayern Munich, sources have told ESPN.

Arsenal's bid to reach a first semifinal since 2009 ended in disappointment at the Allianz Arena on Wednesday as Joshua Kimmich's 63rd-minute header sealed a 3-2 aggregate victory for the Bundesliga giants.

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Sources have told ESPN the club are keen to strengthen in a number of positions but are prioritising bolstering their forward line, with the pursuit of both a striker and a winger under consideration.

Kai Havertz has been utilised as a central striker in recent weeks with Gabriel Jesus largely restricted to the role of impact substitute while Eddie Nketiah has not started a game in any competition since Arsenal's 2-1 defeat at Fulham on New Year's Eve.

Arsenal had long held an interest in signing Brentford's Ivan Toney but sources within the club have repeatedly said they are now looking at other options.

Sources outside Arsenal have told ESPN that among the players under consideration is Sporting Lisbon striker Viktor Gyökeres, who only moved to Portugal from Coventry City last summer but the 25-year-old has registered 36 goals and 16 assists from 44 matches this season.

RB Leipzig's Benjamin Sesko is another young forward Arsenal have previously scouted on multiple occasions. The 20-year-old has a €50 million ($53m) release clause which becomes active this summer. Arsenal have also been tracking Wolves winger Pedro Neto on a long-term basis.

Arteta hinted at the club's plans earlier this month when revealing he would like to work with a smaller squad but with higher quality to increase the amount of rotation, similar to Pep Guardiola's Manchester City.

"I would love that -- to have 22 or 20 instead of 18," Arteta said earlier this month. "Where we change and one is better than the other. The other is better than the other one, the week after. That [would] raise the level and for sure you would win more games."

Arsenal are seeking greater strength in depth having shown signs of physical strain arising from the increased demands of the club's return to Champions League football after a seven-year absence.

Arsenal suffered April slumps in each of the past two seasons. In 2021-22, it cost them a top four place and last season they won just two of the final nine games as City overhauled them to retain the Premier League title.

The club have some headroom within the Premier League's Profit and Sustainability Rules but their summer budget could be boosted further by the departure of several fringe players including Nketiah and Reiss Nelson. Arsenal were willing to listen to offers for Thomas Partey last summer and a new midfielder could also be targeted if a suitable offer for the Ghana international arrives.