Unai Emery reportedly failed to land three key players he had targeted to boost his Arsenal squad prior to his downfall.
The Spaniard was sacked by the Gunners at the end of last month after overseeing the club’s worst run of results in over two decades.
Emery had spent over £130million during the summer in what the club thought was a successful transfer window, but The Athletic reports that he did not land any of his top targets.
He had pinpointed England centre-back Harry Maguire as a solution to the club’s central defensive issues, and was also keen on Atletico Madrid midfielder Thomas Partey and Crystal Palace winger Wilfried Zaha.
Arsenal were forced out of the race for Maguire by Premier League champions Man City, despite that the fact that it was Manchester United who eventually signed the Leicester man.
David Luiz was then brought in on deadline day as an alternative to Maguire for a cut-price £8m fee, but the Brazilian has struggled to make a stellar impact at The Emirates.
Partey, meanwhile, had been identified by Emery as an ideal candidate to strengthen Arsenal’s midfield engine room, but the club were put off by his €50million release clause.
The report adds that the Gunners could not commit to that sort of figure, having made signing a wide player their priority, with Palace winger Zaha initially topping their shortlist.
However, after seeing a £40m bid for Zaha rejected, Arsenal then turned their attentions to Nicolas Pepe – who was deemed to be shrewder investment due to his age.
Pepe eventually cost Arsenal £70m but the Ivory Coast attacker has struggled to find his form since arriving from Lille, while Zaha has continued to shine for a resurgent Palace side.
The report adds that Emery was also hampered by the late appointment of Edu as the club’s technical director, who was only able to make a limited impact on their transfer plans.
It is believed that ultimately, the failure to sign a top centre-back and Pepe’s poor form largely contributed to Emery’s sacking – with the club seemingly no nearer to finding a long-term replacement.
Meanwhile, Arsenal have jumped ahead of Everton and Leicester in the queue to snap up the reinvigorated Chris Smalling from Man Utd after the defender’s form for Roma has brought him back to prominence.
The Gunners’ defensive woes have been there for all to see this season, with the £7m capture of ex-Chelsea centre-half David Luiz in the summer failing to resolve their issues.
Despite not having a permanent manager in place, the Daily Express (via the Sunday Mirror) report that the Arsenal board ‘seem to be continuing in their pursuit of possible transfer targets.’ Read more…