Had things gone differently, Alexander Isak would be lining up in the red of Arsenal against Newcastle United on Sunday.
But instead, Isak will lead the line for Newcastle, as they look to take another giant step towards Champions League football whilst denting Arsenal‘s title bid in the process.
The Magpies welcome the Gunners to St James’ Park for what should be an incredible game of football. While the reverse fixture was a 0-0 draw, it was an enthralling 90 minutes.
Sunday’s game should be even better, as both sides have plenty to play for. Arsenal will be desperate to close the gap on Manchester City, and could be four points behind by the time we kick off this weekend.
As for Newcastle, victory will make it eight wins from our last nine games. The Magpies have re-found form at the right time, and that is largely down to Isak.
Alexander Isak inspiring Newcastle’s Champions League charge
The 23-year-old has been exceptional since Howe thrust him into the starting lineup against Wolves. Since then he has scored seven goals and provided one assist – as well as producing the incredible run that led to Jacob Murphy scoring against Everton.
Isak is playing out of his skin, reaching double figures during an injury hit debut campaign on Tyneside. In the words of Alan Shearer, he is becoming ‘unplayable‘.
And now he has the chance to show Arsenal what a huge mistake they made when they decided against signing him last year.
Arsenal made a huge mistake by not signing the Swedish striker
Newcastle signed Isak last summer for a club record fee of £63million. It looked like a lot of money at the time, but the Sweden international is proving to be worth every penny at the moment.
And he is also proving why Arsenal should have forked out for him when they had the chance.
Way before Newcastle had any chance of signing Isak, the Gunners were considering a deal to bring him to the Emirates.
He was heavily linked with a move to North London in January 2022, with Arteta clearly in need of a striker. They offered Real Sociedad £56million, but the bid was rejected.
The Spanish side told Arsenal that they had to activate his £76million release clause if they wanted to sign him. That was something that Arsenal would not do, with the Athletic reporting that they decided not to pay the release clause as they thought it was above market value.
That was technically correct, as Newcastle signed him a few months later for £63million – but Arsenal were right to be charged more, as the January transfer window is always inflated.
Instead, they moved for Gabriel Jesus last summer, who arrived for £45million from Manchester City. He has done well at the Emirates, netting 10 Premier League goals. That is the same amount that Isak has, but Newcastle’s number 14 has played five games fewer.
Arsenal missed a trick not signing Isak, much like they did with Bruno Guimaraes. The Brazilian taught them a lesson at St James’ Park last season, and now Isak has the chance to do the same.