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The 11 reasons why Arsenal have opted to sign Benjamin Sesko despite Alexander Isak interest

Arsenal are interested in Benjamin Sesko after an excellent season for RB Leipzig
-Credit: (Image: RONNY HARTMANN/AFP via Getty Images)


Alexander Isak stands out as the ideal candidate for Arsenal to sign as their new number nine this summer. A Premier League-proven centre-forward with more than 20 league goals for Newcastle United and who has seemingly shrugged off initial injury concerns.

The problem however is that the Magpies have no interest in selling the Swedish international striker and therefore the Gunners have already turned their attention to more realistic targets. The prominent figure at the top of the list is RB Leipzig’s Benjamin Sesko, football.london understands.

The Slovenian striker has a €65million (£55.6million) release clause in his current deal and despite the hopes of the German club to keep him the buyout has taken the control away from them should any side decide to activate it. Arsenal want to get business done early and indications are Sesko would like to have his future sorted before the European Championships.

Having only turned 21 this week and just the one season of Bundesliga football under his belt there are many supporters who remain unconvinced that the younger striker is the right player for the club to invest in. After another title challenge fell short, many feel that the club should push to sign only players who improve on the starting figures in the team, hence why Isak features so prominently for many.

With that said, when digging into Sesko’s season with Leipzig where he initially started on the bench before establishing himself in the second half of the campaign, it becomes much clearer why Arsenal are such fans of the Slovenian.

Looking first at goals and assists, Isak finished the campaign with 0.92 non-penalty goals and assists per 90 for Newcastle according to FBRef. However, despite scoring two non-penalty goals fewer than Isak, the significantly fewer number of minutes played compared to the Swede meant that he finished the season with 0.94 non-penalty goals and assists per 90.

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When looking solely at non-penalty goals however it gets worse for Isak who managed 0.64 per 90 compared to Sesko’s 0.82. Finishing-wise, this saw Isak outperform his npxG per 90 (0.62) by just 0.02 compared to Sesko whose npxG was 0.45 meaning he outperformed it by 0.37.

This is reflected in their goal-per-shot ratio which Sesko (0.3) again ranks higher than Isak (0.22). In terms of their influence of goals for other players in their sides, Sesko finished the campaign with 0.47 goal-creating actions per 90 compared to Isak’s 0.4.

Arteta typically wants every player on the field to contribute to the defensive side of the game and Sesko’s numbers will certainly have piqued the manager’s interest too. Sesko ranked higher than Isak in tackles per 90 (0.76 > 0.2), tackles won per 90 (0.29 > 0) blocks per 90 (1.35 > 0.64) and clearances per 90 (1.59 > 0.52).

Isak stands at an impressive 6’4, but Sesko has a slight edge with a height of 6’5 but interestingly this slight difference is widened considerably when it comes to both players' aerial impact. Sesko won 56.7% of his aerial duels compared to Isak’s 18.8%.

All of these analytics alongside the price which could be less than half of what Newcastle would expect for Isak is pretty reading for the Gunners. Now it is about getting it done and seeing if the numbers translate to an Arsenal shirt.