Former Arsenal striker Alan Smith believes Arsene Wenger needs to rethink his transfer policy, or risk the wrath of Gunners fans if the club fails to qualify for the UEFA Champions League this season.
After missing out on the signing of Gary Cahill, who joined Chelsea in a reported £7million deal from Bolton Wanderers last week, Smith called for Wenger to start splashing the cash in order re-establish their place in the top-four.
Arsenal tried to sign Cahill in the summer, but after having a bid knocked back by Trotters boss Owen Coyle, who described the offer as laughable, the club turned its attentions to other targets.
"With the Cahill thing, we don't know exactly how it happened but we do know Arsenal made a bid which Bolton rejected," Smith told talkSPORT. "So why not go a bit higher, pay the asking price and get the player?
"Now he's gone to Chelsea and he's a good signing for them, and he would have been a good one for Arsenal, and better than Per Mertesacker, in my opinion.
"Cahill knows the league, he's an England player and he could be an England player for the next few years and would have had a good re-sale value even at 30.
"Sometimes Wenger thinks clubs are asking too much and that he wouldn't get a return. It's almost like it's his money and he's careful how he spends it.
"Then there is the wages of course, and Arsenal don't pay £150,000 a week, but Cahill wouldn't have wanted that and I think they could have got him."
Wenger did make an uncharacteristic foray into the summer transfer market, making no less than seven deadline day signings. But Smith has questioned the motive behind the deals, and says it would be better if Arsenal could get their deals done without a race against the clock.
"Once it became clear Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri were both going, that's when you're looking for the manager to make adequate replacements, to get some quality in and not have to do something at the last minute as he ended up doing," he continued.
"They did seem like panic buys at the 11th hour. Arteta is 29 with an injury record, something Wenger looks at; Benayoun is 31 and won't make a huge difference to the first XI at the Emirates; Mertesacker has 80 caps for his country but he looks slow and it's worrying. He's a good solid character, but that's not always enough.
"They've got players coming back [from injury] who will make a difference, [but] getting into the top four this season would arguably be Wenger's greatest achievement."
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