Charlie Nicholas believes that Arsenal have a decision-making problem when it comes to recruiting players.
Speaking to Sky Sports, the former Gunners star, who played for the club between 1983 and 1988, does not believe that the club will be able to challenge at the top of the Premier League until they manage to clarify their recruitment process.
Indeed, they face a battle to keep hold of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, with his contract expiring at the end of next season, and they also lost Aaron Ramsey on a free transfer; the Wales international joined Juventus instead of staying in north London.
Arsenal haven’t played in the Champions League for four years and, as such, cannot really be seen as Premier League title contenders, and Nicholas does not believe that will change until they tweak the way they sign and keep players.
He said: “I don’t think they have an identity problem.
“The reality is for years and years, even under Arsene Wenger, we sold Patrick Vieira, we sold Thierry Henry and most of our big players. There was nothing wrong with change, but we sold them quite young when we weren’t perhaps going to get the full benefit of them.
“We let Aaron Ramsey’s contract run down and at the age of 28, we let him leave for nothing. We’ve had a problem at the top level for a long time. It goes as far back as David Dein not being present any more.
“We have a problem identifying the players and then what we did was start paying £30m for Shkodran Mustafi and defenders who have not cut it for Arsenal. We’ve been buying wrong and the players have realised they’re not a threat to the Premier League and the Champions League.
“The Arsenal hierarchy have got it all wrong. If Aubameyang does go, he’ll want to go to a club that can win trophies. It’s the same as what Robin van Persie did. Arsenal haven’t got an identity problem, they’ve got a decision-making policy problem, and it has to be sorted at the top end.”
GIVEMESPORT’S Harry Sherlock says…
Nicholas has hit the nail slap bang on the head.
This has been a recurring issue with the Gunners, in that they have failed to effectively build a top team across the past decade. Even during Arsene Wenger’s time in charge, towards the end of his reign he seemed to make bizarre choices in the transfer market, bringing in short-term fixes and players that weren’t around for the long haul.
He did still manage to get them into the Champions League with regularity but the success in the league dried up and now the Gunners are beginning to reap what has been sowed.
They need root-and-branch reform within the club and they need to get to the bottom of why exactly they haven’t been able to effectively manoeuvre in the transfer market.
Until they do that, they are likely to continue spinning their wheels while looking on enviously at the top end of the table.
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