Pundit warns Arsenal over the future of key stars, predicts van Persie repeat
Former striker Darren Bent believes Arsenal could lose two of their most important players to Premier League rivals.
The Gunners return to action on Monday following the latest round of World Cup qualifiers. They will come up against club legend Patrick Vieira, who is now in charge of Crystal Palace.
Mikel Arteta’s side have picked up ten points from their first seven matches. They were disappointing at the start of the campaign but results have since improved.
A number of players have been key to Arsenal’s very recent turnaround. Summer signing Aaron Ramsdale impressed in the north London derby against Tottenham.
Japan international Takehiro Tomiyasu also seems to be gaining admirers among the Arsenal faithful.
Arteta is still reliant on young stars Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith Rowe. The duo reflect just how important Arsenal’s academy is to their first team.
Saka made 46 appearances in all competitions last term, scoring seven goals. He got off the mark for the current campaign with a goal against Spurs.
Smith Rowe, meanwhile, managed six goal contributions in the Prem during 2020-21. He helped to down Nuno Espirito Santo’s men with a goal and assist at the Emirates.
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Keeping the pair in north London is vital if Arsenal are to get back into the top four. But Bent reckons the club risking losing them if their fortunes do not improve this season.
He told talkSPORT: “It’s a decision to make. Arsenal’s ambition has to match their own.
“There’s no point in Arsenal [being] seventh or eighth every season. At some stage, you’re going to have to make a run for it.
“I’m guessing if the likes of Newcastle United now, and Liverpool and Chelsea, are constantly up there, they could come in for a bid.”
Bent then referred to former Arsenal stars Robin van Persie and Cesc Fabregas. Both left the club during the 2010s in search of major trophies.
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“It’s a little bit like the [Robin] van Persie situation,” he added. “We’ve seen it with [Cesc] Fabregas, as well.
“We’ve seen these guys leave because, for Van Persie, they had a really good team there, but couldn’t get over the line.
“He said, ‘well enough is enough’, and went to Manchester United and won the league.
“So, I guess, if the club’s ambition matches their own, they’ll be happy to stay. If it doesn’t, then you fear for Arsenal.”
Arsenal draw up three-man defensive shortlist
Arsenal have three names in mind when it comes to signing a new right-back. Tomiyasu has played there recently, although the 22-year-old is generally viewed as a centre-half.
The Gunners need to replace Hector Bellerin. He left to join Real Betis on loan and could stay in Spain permanently.
Spanish outlet Fichajes (via Goal) reveal three Arsenal targets who could solve the problem. Leicester star James Justin is one.
He had a great 20-21 campaign before suffering a serious ACL injury in February. Arsenal could submit a bid once he returns to full fitness.
Brighton’s Tariq Lamptey is another option. The pacy defender has excelled on the south coast since leaving Chelsea.
The final name is Max Aarons. He is valued at more than £30m by current club Norwich. An England U21 international, Aarons would be a good addition to Arteta’s side.
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