By Wayne Veysey, Goal.com
Arsenal has drawn up a five-man striker shortlist as the club steps up plans to make a major splash in the January market, Goal has learned.
Arsene Wenger is convinced that the addition of a marquee forward in the forthcoming window could tilt the title race in the Gunners’ favor and is ready to spend 30 million pounds on the right player.
Goal understands that Arsenal has prepared a list of targets that features Robert Lewandowski, Diego Costa, Ezequiel Lavezzi, Stephan El Shaarawy and Fernando Llorente.
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The Premier League leaders are closely monitoring the big-name quintet with a view to permanent moves, bar Juventus’ Llorente, who is being considered for a loan deal.
Wenger recognizes he needs a top quality alternative to Olivier Giroud, who has almost single-handedly spearheaded the team’s attack this season.
The Arsenal boss is well aware of the difficulties of landing A-list options in the notoriously difficult January window and the shortlist has been compiled with a view to possible availability, even though all five would be unavailable for the Champions League.
Lewandowski has the biggest reputation of the targets, although Bayern Munich remains the strong favorite to sign the Borussia Dortmund striker.
The prolific Pole is in the final year of his contract and is allowed to enter into official talks with a new club on Jan. 1 although Dortmund is publicly adamant that he will not be sold until the end of the season.
Goal revealed on Wednesday that Arsenal is keeping close tabs on Costa, who has been in sensational form for Atletico Madrid this season, scoring 21 goals in 21 games, including 17 in 16 in the league.
Arsenal scouts will assess the Brazil-born striker in Saturday's Liga match against Levante, a fixture which takes place at Vicente Calderon.
The Atletico spearhead signed a contract extension in August that extended his agreement until 2018 but it is understood a fresh buyout clause of around £30m was inserted in the new deal.
Lavezzi, 28, has slipped down the pecking order at Paris St Germain following the signing of Edinson Cavani last summer.
The Argentine has started only nine of the French club’s 18 league games, scoring two goals, and he is regarded by Arsenal as a player who could be seduced to Emirates Stadium.
Lavezzi is not an authentic center forward but he can play anywhere across the front line, as well as in the No. 10 role behind the main striker.
El Shaarawy, 21, is considered more of a long-term option but his youth, versatility and mobility are believed to be appealing to Arsenal.
The Italy international has been affected by injury this season and has fallen down the pecking order at Milan behind Mario Balotelli and Robinho after an eye-catching 2012-13 campaign in which he scored 19 goals for the club.
The forward, who can play anywhere across the front three, has only managed one goal this season but has struggled for regular playing time.
Arsenal has also made contact with Llorente’s representatives in a bid to secure like-for-like back-up to Giroud for the second half of the season.
The 28-year-old initially had a difficult time in Turin followed his summer transfer on a free from Athletic Bilbao and Arsenal, who were keen on signing him 12 months ago, were alerted to his potential availability for a January loan.
Llorente has formed an increasingly productive strike partnership with Carlos Tevez for the Serie A leaders, weighing in with six goals in 18 games in all competitions. However, Arsenal believe Juventus’ exit from the Champions League has given them a fresh glimmer of capturing the Spaniard on loan.