Legendary Arsenal forward Dennis Bergkamp has pinpointed the main factor behind the club’s drawn out regression under Arsene Wenger.
Arriving in North London as a relative unknown in 1996, little was expected from the Frenchman who had most recently been managing in Japan.
However, blending the superb backline he inherited with the attacking flair introduced with the likes of Marc Overmars, Robert Pires and Thierry Henry, the Gunners won 11 major honours during Wenger’s first decade in England.
The latter half of his Arsenal tenure was rather less successful, with many pointing to the financial constraints provided by the relocation to new ground The Emirates as the predominant factor.
Dutchman Bergkamp looks elsewhere for the key reason, however, with Wenger’s decision to ditch the tried and tested 4-4-2 system the main reason in his eyes.
Asked by club stalwart Martin Keown why things took a turn for the worse, Bergkamp said (via The Metro): “Arsene started experimenting.
“Arsenal after 2006, there was too much midfield play.
“There were no players going into attack, and only one striker who was lonely.”
Keown – who recently urged the club to make a ruthless transfer decision in a key area – backed Bergkamp’s evaluation, stating: “With five in midfield, instead of having you there, he had Cesc Fabregas.
“You would start high then drift into midfield.
“Then Wenger reversed it. Then the player started deep and went high, as Fabregas did.
“Many years later, I spoke with a big-name winger at Arsenal. I asked him: ‘Why do you always stay wide?’ Play with freedom. Be instinctive.
“That’s what the boss wants.”
Meanwhile, A European giant has entered the race to prise Alexandre Lacazette away from The Emirates.
Lacazette is being linked with a move away from North London this summer – along with strike partner Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang – and his conduct has been put under the microscope after an incident in which he was pictured inhaling nitrous oxide.
The French striker was recently linked with Atletico Madrid in a potential swap deal, whereas Aubameyang has been linked with a move to Inter Milan.
However, now reports claim that Lacazette has also emerged onto Inter’s radar, with L’Equipe claiming that he has risen on their shortlist of striker targets.
Inter are looking to revamp their forward line when the transfer window opens, having reportedly agreed to sell Mauro Icardi to Paris Saint-Germain following his loan spell in France, and with doubts surrounding the future of Lautaro Martinez.
Martinez has been mentioned as a potential target for several Premier League clubs, but appears intent on moving to Barcelona – a switch which would leave Inter in need of a replacement.