With Juventus beating Real Madrid 2-1 in the first leg of their Champions League semi-final, having vanquished AS Monaco in the previous round, Arsenal fans must be watching on with a sense of “what if?”
In rampant form and closing in on a second consecutive FA Cup, the Gunners surely should have gone further in Europe this season, with their campaign undone by a single, disastrous, performance against the Principality Club at the Emirates.
But while many Gooners may find it difficult to watch the continent’s finest competing for the European Cup, they should have few qualms about tuning in to watch the tournament’s ugly sister – the Europa League.
Because it’s there, in the rather select confines of Thursday night, that a player with the potential to turn Arsenal from Premier League also-rans to title contenders, is currently impressing.
Carlos Bacca may not be the kind of young starlet signed by Arsene Wenger in past – he’s 28 and has enjoyed a nomadic career to date – but he could be the additional striker they need to mount a serious challenge next season.
While the likes of Radamel Falcao and Jackson Martinez hog the limelight, the truth is that Colombia’s best striker, on current form, is undoubtedly Bacca.
Brought to Sevilla from Club Brugge back in 2013 as a replacement for the Manchester City-bound Alvaro Negredo, the South American has been sensational.
In 97 appearances for the Andalusian side, Bacca has managed a steady 45 goals, including 11 in continental competition.
A key component of Sevilla’s Europa League success last term and a key player in their route to the semi-finals of the same competition this season, the 5ft 11in forward is a quick and intelligent forward capable of finishing off chances with aplomb.
Due to line-up against Fiorentina, the Colombian will be all-too-aware that another fine showing in Europe could be enough to convince the likes of Arsenal that he is ready for the step up.
Olivier Giroud has been in great form for the north London club but with the Gunners lacking an adequate back-up or striker to provide completion, a signing of Bacca’s ilk looks necessary if they are to finally challenge Chelsea.
Score against their Serie A opponents this Thursday and it could be the 28-year-old, rather than Falcao or Martinez, grabbing the headlines in the Premier League next season.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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