Paul Merson believes the signing of Gabriel Jesus will be crucial for any hopes Arsenal have of qualifying for the Champions League.
Jesus is one of Arsenal’s top targets this summer. They need a new striker and Mikel Arteta knows the Brazilian well from their time together at Manchester City. As such, he is hoping to convince Jesus to leave the champions.
There has been competition for the services of the 25-year-old, who is falling down the pecking order at the Etihad Stadium after the signing of Erling Haaland. However, Arsenal are hoping to win the race.
Indeed, on Friday, a prediction emerged that they could complete a deal within 10 days. Some sources are indicating they have even agreed a fee already.
If not, they would have had to look elsewhere, or face starting the season with just Eddie Nketiah as a centre-forward option. According to their former player Merson, that simply could not happen.
Merson told the Daily Star: “Arsenal must get Gabriel Jesus if they are serious about getting back into the top four. They have got to get him. It’s that simple.
“Everything goes out of the window if they don’t. It doesn’t matter what else they do.
“All they’ve got right now up front is Eddie Nketiah. And no disrespect but Nketiah won’t get you into the top four. Absolutely no chance. That’s a fact.
“So they need Jesus. They don’t need young players with potential like Fabio Vieira. They need experience. And Jesus has plenty of that.
“If they don’t get him they are sitting there with one centre-forward, and let’s be honest if not for Aubameyang and Lacazette’s contract situations, he wouldn’t be there.
“They need to sort the Jesus signing out very quickly. I think he is good enough to transform Arsenal. He doesn’t get the credit he deserves.
“Yes, he does miss chances but he never goes hiding and he’s a centre-forward who is desperate to score goals. He has that hunger and a little bit of a selfish streak and you need that.”
Merson believes Gabriel Jesus a major upgrade on Nketiah
Recently, Nketiah signed a new contract to pledge his own future to the club. He enjoyed a run of games in the team towards the end of last season.
But Merson cannot foresee that happening in the long-term. While denying he was “having a go at” Nketiah, he claimed there are lower-half teams he may struggle to start for.
In contrast, Jesus has experienced the big games, despite only being two years older.
Merson added: “If they get Jesus I think Arsenal fans can start to get excited. But if they don’t, they are going to be so far short.
“Nketiah can’t be spearheading your Champions League push. He’s not getting in ahead of Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Richarlison at Everton and they almost got relegated. He’s not getting in at Fulham ahead of Aleksandr Mitrovic and they’ve only just been promoted.
“I’m not having a go at him but he’s not getting you top four. Put Jesus in there and he’s played in the big, big matches. Pep Guardiola has trusted him in big games and if Guardiola trusts you, you know you’ve got a good signing.”
Jesus has scored 95 goals from 236 appearances for Manchester City.