Arsenal legend slams club's 'lazy' recruitment

Martin Macdonald
Albert Sambi Lokonga during Arsenal's 2-0 loss to Brentford in the Premier League

Arsenal legend Paul Merson has slammed the recruitment at the club over the last couple of seasons, describing it as "lazy".

David Luiz was signed from Arsenal for a nominal fee, Willian was brought in on gargantuan wages, while Nicolas Pepe remains the club's most expensive acquisition after his £72 million transfer from Lille.

As for this summer, £50m has been spent on Ben White, who has spent one season in the Premier League, £18m was sent to Anderlecht for Albert Sambi Lokonga, while Nuno Tavares was signed as a backup to Kieran Tierney.

This week, they will also complete the transfers of Martin Odegaard from Real Madrid and Aaron Ramsdale from Sheffield United.

On the opening day of the Premier League season last Friday, the Gunners lost to newly promoted Brentford.

Merson highlighted the Luiz and Willian deals in particular as lazy, and questioned whether manager Mikel Arteta has a say in recruitment or whether it is all down to director Edu.

“It's worrying at Arsenal. Where are they going?" he said

“Edu has come in, and the recruitment has been lazy, if I'm being honest. It's been: ‘Oh, we'll take Willian on a free… we'll take David Luiz for cheap.

“I remember years ago in football, managers were judged on signings. Sometimes I think Arteta is left behind, and I'm not sure how much of a say he has got in all of this.”

Should Willock have stayed?

Arsenal have sold academy graduate Joe Willock to Newcastle for £25m after he spent a positive loan spell at St. James' Park last campaign.

Merson has questioned why the club would choose to let someone like him go when the likes of Willian remain at the club on big money.

"Why would you let Joe Willock go? I'm not saying he's the answer, but he's come through the club and is going for £25million.

"That sort of money isn't going to change Arsenal. It's not like a Harry Kane or Jack Grealish sale where you get £100m and can rebuild the team.

"But Arsenal are prepared to pay Willian big money. Where is the future in that? It's quick fixes. Surely Willock is a future player and for the present, and can be involved in the plan. My question to Edu would be: ‘What's the plan?’

"We got spoiled with Arsenal 20 years ago. Those days are gone. 2004 is gone. We're all still living in the past with Arsenal. But look where they are - this is Arsenal, now.”

Arsenal still have a number of players on their books who they are actively looking to get rid of, including Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Mohamed Elneny, Sead Kolasinac, Lucas Torreira, Reiss Nelson, Eddie Nketiah, Hector Bellerin and Willian.

They have also failed to land a number of targets, including Sergio Ramos, Emiliano Buendia, Manuel Locatelli and Lautaro Martinez.