Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta has sent a veiled message to the club’s hierarchy over summer transfers.
His team faces Premier League Champions Liverpool at home tonight and Arteta has pointed towards the way that the Reds have gone about their transfer business as a good model to follow. “The market Liverpool had in the previous seasons, the goals they were conceding and how they were conceding those goal, some [were] individual errors, set pieces as well, for example,” he said in his pre-match press conference. Liverpool bought in Virgil van Dijk for a fee in the region of £75 million, a then record for a defender, and Allison Becker in the goalkeeping position and the duo had an instant impact at Anfield. “The moment they touched the spine of the team, that changed dramatically. Same team, same players, same amount of arrivals in the final third, same recovery time after losing possession, but completely different numbers. So, that’s a quick fix. You get one of the best defenders in the world with one of the best goalkeepers in the world and one of the best holding midfielders in the world and you change pretty quickly. You can see that at City when Laporte came in. That’s the way I believe a team has to be built.”
Arteta has admitted it would be a “massive blow” if Arsenal were to miss out on European football next season. Sunday’s defeat to north London rivals Tottenham left Arsenal ninth in the table with just three games remaining, leaving their most likely path into next season’s Europa League being the FA Cup, in which they have a semi-final against Manchester City on Saturday. Failure to qualify would see Arsenal go without European competition for the first time since the 1995-96 season, while it will be a third successive campaign without Champions League football. The spell outside the Champions League is thought to have cost Arsenal about £100m and that figure will increase substantially now, even more so if there is no Europa League campaign to mitigate. Pressed on whether he felt the club could still attract top-quality players, he insisted their appeal had not faded – the implication being that, with the right money, he would be able to recruit appropriately. “We’ve an incredible history, an incredible structure, in a beautiful city and a style of play that attracts players,” he said. “And I’m telling you now, because I am closer to the market now – when I speak to people, a lot of players want to play for Arsenal.”
Arteta, who hinted he will make changes to the side that lost at Spurs on Sunday given Arsenal face their ninth game in four weeks, said talks about the club’s future direction would take place when the season is over. He said, “What we need to do at the end of the season is see the direction we want to take, agree on the ambition of the football club, realise that where we are the demands are going to be huge – that’s never going to change because it’s linked to our history and our success – and move from there.” Do you think Arsenal will make it to Europe next season?