Arsenal legend claims Arteta ‘left behind’ in fierce criticism of recruitment

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta frustrated, May 2021

Paul Merson has questioned how much power Mikel Arteta has over Arsenal transfers after hitting out at their “lazy” recruitment under Edu.

Arsenal got their season off to a losing start against newly promoted Brentford and have a lot of work to do to get back where they belong. Last season, they missed out on European qualification for the first time in the 21st Century. A huge rebuild is underway, but concerns have been raised about the direction they are heading in.

So far this summer, they have signed Nuno Tavares, Albert Sambi Lokonga and Ben White. They also appear to be closing in on deals for Martin Odegaard and Aaron Ramsdale. It marks a contrast from previous windows, thanks to a focus on younger players.

Even so, there are doubts lingering about some of their decision making. Now, ex-Gunner Merson has admitted he still has worries about how Arsenal have overseen transfer activity in recent years under the guidance of technical director Edu.

Merson told Sky Sports: “It’s worrying at Arsenal. You’re still thinking: ‘Where are they going?’

“Edu has come in, and the recruitment has been lazy, if I’m being honest. It’s been: ‘Oh, we’ll take Willian on a free… we’ll take David Luiz for cheap.’

“I remember years ago in football, managers were judged on signings. Sometimes I think Arteta is left behind, and I’m not sure how much of a say he has got in all of this.”

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One outgoing deal for Arsenal recently was that of Joe Willock, who finally made his move to Newcastle permanent after a successful loan spell between January and the end of last season.

Merson, though, cannot see the logic in letting him go from an Arsenal perspective.

He continued: “Why would you let Joe Willock go? I’m not saying he’s the answer, but he’s come through the club and is going for £25m. That sort of money isn’t going to change Arsenal.

“It’s not like a Harry Kane or Jack Grealish sale where you get £100m and can rebuild the team.

“But Arsenal are prepared to pay Willian big money. Where is the future in that? It’s quick fixes. Surely Willock is a future player and for the present, and can be involved in the plan.”

Arsenal star ‘days away from exit’

A change of direction may be signified by the news that Arsenal are close to offloading one of their more experienced players.

After extending the contract of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang last summer for big money, Arsenal have seen little return on the pitch.

Therefore, they are reluctant to hand out similar deals to other players – one of whom could now be on his way out imminently…

READ MOREAlexandre Lacazette ‘days away from Arsenal exit’ as transfer expert lifts lid