Arsenal academy manager Per Mertesacker has made a damning, but honest assessment of the Gunners’ transfer strategy since the departure of Arsene Wenger.
Mertesacker, 37, who left the club as a player with Wenger in 2018, immediately joined the club’s Academy set-up. And the former German international now oversees the development of Arsenal’s next crop of young talent. But he has not been afraid to assess the club’s transfer policy over the last three years and in fact admitted the club “lost their way”.
Unai Emery was tasked with the job of following in Wenger’s footsteps – the king of the net spend. However, his 18-month tenure ended on a sour note and he was eventually replaced by Arteta in December 2019.
While Emery did add some talented players to the squad, including Kieran Tierney and Gabriel Martinelli, many of his signings proved ineffective.
Sokratis Papastathopoulos, Stephan Lichtsteiner and Denis Suarez have all left, while Lucas Torreira, Matteo Guendouzi and William Saliba are all out on loan.
Emery also spent £72m on Nicolas Pepe and oversaw the signing of 32-year-old David Luiz on a two-year contract.
And Mertesacker has delivered hi verdict on the rebuilding process.
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Mertesacker told Suddeutsche: “We are in a state of upheaval and are building a team capable of development, which should be peppered with players from our own youth and professionals from abroad.
“In the meantime, we had lost our way. We tried to make the connection to the top faster with costly commitments. We fell on our face with that.
‘Mikel had a different knit than Arsene’
“It is not easy to find successors who bring good ideas and who at the same time involve club employees.
“Mikel has a different knit than Arsene, is intense and focused. He tries to be very active as a trainer, to respond to the new generation and to clearly show what is required.
“The current generation needs more requirements, while in my time much more was regulated in dialogue with one another.”
It’s almost impossible to compare the club’s current spending to what Wenger spent in the past.
The transfer market has changed so much and the impact of Covid-19 has been huge.
Arteta though has already spent around £225m since his appointment in December 2019. But he has also managed to blood some talented youngsters into the first-team set-up.
The likes of Emile Smith Rowe and Bukayo Saka are now established first-teamers. And there are signs on new youngsters coming through with Charlie Patino making his debut recently.