Legend reveals recruitment ‘gap’ Arsenal must bridge to regain ‘identity’

Ben White (pic via Arsenal FC)

Former Arsenal star Liam Brady has identified a weakness in the club’s recruitment policy which needs addressing if they are to compete with the biggest clubs once again.

The Gunners have seemingly dropped out of the so-called ‘big six’ clubs after an indifferent run of form in recent years. They have not made it into the top four since finishing as runners-up in the 2015-2016 campaign. The jury is still out on the board’s decision to appoint Mikel Arteta as manager.

The Spaniard guided his charges to an eighth-place finish in 2020-2021. That meant no European football and the knives were out when they lost their first three games of this season.

Back-to-back wins have relieved the pressure to a certain extent. However, there is still much work to be done before the north Londoners can be considered title challengers once again.

There has been criticism over the years that the Emirates outfit have failed to match the spending of their peers. However, Arteta was given plenty of financial backing in the summer and he did not hold back.

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They spent £51m on defender Ben White while Martin Odegaard made his loan deal permanent for £31m. Aaron Ramsdale, Takehiro Tomiyasu, Albert Sambi Lokonga and Nuno Tavares were also recruited.

It remains to be seen how the new faces fare in the long run. And Brady feels there is a fundamental flaw in the way Arsenal are going about identifying their targets.

He told The Daily Mail: “Arsenal need an identity because it’s not there but how do you compete when you are faced with Roman Abramovich at Chelsea or Abu Dhabi at Manchester City?

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“The only way is with good recruitment. Leicester and Liverpool have shown it. Arsenal have a question mark.”

Brady cites Liverpool as blueprint to follow

Arsenal have been known as a club to give youth a chance. Former manager Arsene Wenger was a big proponent of buying young players and developing them.

Should they then opt to leave it nets the club a tidy profit for reinvesting in new stars. Promoting from within is another tactic.

And while the Gunners have managed to do just that, Brady feels another top club has shown how to do transfer business correctly.

“The academy has done its bit with Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith Rowe, but the recruitment since Arsene’s total control was eroded has not worked,” he added. “Compare us with Liverpool and someone like Philippe Coutinho. They bought him for £10m and sold him for £100m.

Albert Sambi Lokonga of Arsenal and Brentford's Marcus Forss

“That helped buy Alisson and Virgil van Dijk. That hasn’t happened at Arsenal. That’s the gap.”

All the players to arrive in the summer were below 24 years of age and so they may have sell-on value in years to come.

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