A former Gunners forward believes the club must focus on signing defenders if they are to return to the Champions League next season
Former Arsenal striker Jeremie Aliadiere has revealed he has been baffled by the club’s targeting of Wilfried Zaha and Everton Soares this summer, insisting their focus should be on signing defenders, rather than bolstering their attacking options.
The ex-France Under-21 international spent six years in north London between 2001-2007, time which included their last Premier League championship, in 2003-04.
The Gunners have missed out on qualification for the Champions League for the last three seasons and Aliadiere, speaking to 888sport, believes they must reassess their priorities in the transfer market if they are to return to Europe’s premier club competition next season.
“Defensively has been where Arsenal need to strengthen the most,” the 36-year-old said. “And they are pretty close to signing William Saliba.
“But I have heard they’re going to sign him then loan him back to France for a season, so I am a bit surprised by that.
“I am not sure if right now we can afford to sign a soccer professional for the future, we need a soccer professional to come in and improve the team right now because that’s where we struggled last year.
“Now we have [Laurent] Koscielny looking like he might leave the club, that’s another centre-back, and the captain, that could be going.
“Arsenal signing a centre-back has been really important and yet I keep seeing us linked with a lot of forwards such as Zaha and Everton Soares, but they are not what we need for the moment.
“If Arsenal can get stronger defensively they can surely get back into the top four.”
Aliadiere went on to praise the attacking partnership already in place at the Emirates, but warned that Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette cannot be expected to restore Arsenal to glory without help.
Calling the pair, who combined for 35 Premier League goals last season, a “massive asset” he urged Arsenal to bolster their defence for their off days.
“Their partnership has been a massive asset,” he continued, “and how close they are off the field means they do a lot of work for each other on it.
“Arsenal’s problems are not up front. It’s the lack of quality at the back and in midfield.
“You cannot expect them to score two or three goals every game and last season it felt like to reach the top four that needed to happen.
“Obviously that has been too much to ask because they are bound to have off days and that’s when you rely on the defence to save the game.
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“I really like Everton Soares. I saw him at the Copa America and he was terrific.
“I am not so sure that a winger has been an area where Arsenal need to buy at the moment.”