Škrlatica at the Emirates: Why Benjamin Šeško Is Ideal for Arsenal

Premier League giants Arsenal come into an international summer on the strength of a brilliant 2023-24 campaign where they pushed juggernaut Manchester City to the final day of Premier League competition. Having finished runner-up across the last two seasons under gifted tactician Mikel Arteta, club owners Kroenke Sports & Entertainment are entrenched in the Basque manager’s camp.


Along with club technical director and fellow former Gunners midfielder Edu Gaspar, the leadership duo are the tip of the spear of the massive spell of progression that has transpired in North London. More of the same is expected this summer going into the 2024-25 season from a dedicated fanbase that are, overall, fully behind the club for the first time since the Arsène Wenger heydays.


As such, transfer speculation is rife across major media and social channels alike, with the club having already been linked with major business at center-forward, central midfield, and left-back respectively. Regarding the number 9 role, even though the club have been mentioned in the same breath as the likes of SSC Napoli’s Victor Osimhen, Sporting CP’s Viktor Gyökeres, and Newcastle United’s Alexander Isak, recent links with serious interest in RB Leipzig’s Benjamin Šeško has offered further insight into the direction that Arteta and Edu may gravitate toward.



At 21 years of age, the full Slovenian international is coming off his debut season in Saxony under head trainer Marco Rose, and has quickly become one of the most sought-after young strikers anywhere in Europe. After breaking out at satellite outfit RB Salzburg and reserve subsidiary FC Liefering in the wake of his arrival from NK Domžale, the Radeče-born center-forward showed his form in Austria was no fluke and took Red Bull Arena by storm to the tune of 18 goals in 41 appearances across all competitions.


Though Šeško only started 17 of a possible 34 Bundesliga fixtures as well as half of the club’s eight Champions League outings, his progression from Salzburg young gun to Leipzig’s second leading goalscorer this season was fun to witness, despite fellow summer signing Loïs Openda stole the show in front of goal.


Blessed with a tall stature and a physical frame that he still has not yet mastered in his own right, Šeško’s technical craft, deceptive turn of pace, and ball-striking ability already make him a lethal box-presence. This quality is sure to progress further as the youngster refines his ability to play with his back to goal, but still and yet, he makes one-touch passes with ease and has no trouble fitting into combination play rather well.


These are all qualities that Arteta has made a tactical focal point at the club this season through German international Kai Havertz, who quickly has become a key piece of the jigsaw puzzle at the Emirates after adapting to life in the wake of his arrival from league rivals Chelsea.



It was this adaptation and subsequent form for the club after November that has seen the former Bayer Leverkusen wunderkind win over the hearts and minds of club supporters, dispelling any notion that he washed up on shore after three troubling seasons at Stamford Bridge.


Perhaps most important of all, it was the affirmation that Havertz’s contributions, and overall player profile, that have not only convinced the club to likely continue to view him as the main striker next season, but a move for Šeško on the back of that now makes far more sense than targeting a more seasoned profile in terms of age.


Beyond the affordable price point (between £45m-£55m) that comes with a potential move compared to the rumored £100m it could take to prize someone like Isak from Tyneside, such a movie would, in theory, offer Arteta much more manuverability when it comes to retooling the senior squad this summer via the transfer market.


Assuming that a move for Šeško was finalized, the Slovenian would have a player in Havertz who he could not only study and refine under, but a seasoned professional who also has made the jump from the German top flight to the pinnacle of the English game while understanding the hardships that come with it.



Even more importantly, though, would be the in-house solution that would come with such a move when it comes to finding depth behind club star boy Bukayo Saka; shifting one of Gabriel Jesus or Gabriel Martinelli to the right side of the attack, giving the club a trusted backup to the Hale End academy product.


Many Arsenal supporters have long wanted Saka to have a player behind him that Arteta could trust to rotate into the XI in order to give the England star much-needed respite across what is the most grueling fixture list in Europe, but the reality of trying to convince a player to come into the club to be nothing more than Saka’s backup would be difficult.


At the very least, taking Jesus as the example of a player who has experience down the right side during his time at Manchester City under Pep Guardiola, the remaining one year on his contract and reduction of minutes would hopefully see him remain fit for far longer and also willing to accept a reduced role at a club he has shown no signs of wanting to separate from.



Residually, the rapid development of academy gem Ethan Nwaneri, who is similar in profile to Saka, means that after a season in and around the first-team, or out on loan, opens a pathway for his full integration in 2025-26 after Jesus’ contract expires.


It is difficult to see a better solution presented to the club at such a key juncture of its metamorphosis under Arteta, where perhaps the final puzzle piece in the goal of usurping City’s hegemonic hold over English football would theoretically be a trusted 18-man setup (with room for five residual players of varying profiles) that the manager would have unwavering faith in, similar to Pep at the Etihad. With Šeško in the door as Havertz’s scholar, Jesus shunted out to the right behind Saka, and Trossard and Martinelli vying for the left-wing birth, this, for the first time, would offer six players across the front that would see little, if any, reduction in quality.


Circling back to the financial aspect of the move, Arsenal are all but guaranteed to splash in midfield this summer given the noise surrounding the Gunners camp, and by avoiding a massive outlay at forward. Realistically, this opens up avenues to considerably strengthen midfield as well as the backline, which brings links to Feyenoord Rotterdam left-back Quilindschy Hartman, versatile Ajax center-back Jorrel Hato, FC Barcelona’s Frenkie De Jong, and Everton’s Amadou Onana further under the microscope.



Regardless of who the club decide to secure come the end of a busy summer transfer period, it remains pertinent that the club press a growing advantage of those that have finished behind them if they are to continue to make gains on the one club that has stood between them and league honors for the first time in two decades.


If history can tell us anything about Arteta, Edu and Arsenal in recent seasons, it’s that something big is coming, and maybe, just maybe, young Benjamin Šeško will have a key role to play in that.


By: Andrew Thompson / @GeecheeKid

Featured Image: @GabFoligno / Neil Baynes – FC Red Bull Salzburg