Former Invincible urges Arsenal to make ruthless decision in key area

Date published: Saturday 30th May 2020 1:58 - Samuel Bannister

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Former Arsenal defender Martin Keown has suggested that the club need to offload David Luiz now, amid uncertainty over his future.

Reports emerged this week that Luiz is out of contract at the end of June, despite it previously being thought that he had signed on for two years when moving to the Emirates Stadium last summer.

The former Chelsea centre-back has not solved Arsenal’s defensive issues single-handed, but has impressed Mikel Arteta with his experience, and it could be a blow if Arsenal were to lose him this summer.

However, ex-Gunners defender Keown, who was a member of their Invincible Premier League winning campaign in 2003-04, believes that the club will need to make a ruthless decision about the 33-year-old – with defensive partner Shkodran Mustafi also coming in for criticism.

“David Luiz concerns me because if you’re going to pay £8m for him and give him £5m wages and he’s only going to be there for one season, I’m not sure about the wisdom of that,” Keown told talkSPORT.

“Is he a proper defender? Can he play in a back four? His best defending came when he was in a back three at Chelsea when they won the Premier League [in 2016-17].

“It’s the most crucial area which he [Mikel Arteta] has to get right.

“[Rob] Holding’s been injured, it’s hard to judge him, he probably deserves another opportunity. I think that Sokratis could be a useful defender but I can understand the uncertainty of giving David Luiz a new deal.

“Do they now start to be harsh and make those key decisions? If David Luiz isn’t the answer, then he has to go now.

“He doesn’t enjoy being in wide positions in the back four, he tends to bring people down and Mustafi, although Arteta has got a bit of a tune out of him, we know Mustafi isn’t quite at the level as well.

“You go to a football club, you have to make your mark and if it doesn’t happen you have to hold your hands up. I think both players will have to do that… I can’t see that being a long-term partnership in the Arsenal defence.”

 

Keown has also cast doubt on whether William Saliba will make the grade at the Emirates, despite earning rave reviews from his manager out on loan.

“There’s an awful lot of work to be done in there. There was the defender from Saint-Etienne, William Saliba, who they paid £27 million for but was loaned back again.

“I couldn’t quite work that out because now I’m being told he’s world-class. Never mind if he’s world-class, if he was Premier League class it would have been good enough because that was an area of concern.”

Meanwhile, Luiz has confessed his desire to return to Benfica, the club who originally brought him to Europe – although the Brazilian international admits he does not know when it will happen.

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