Mikel Arteta has admitted he has a ‘big concern’ about how Arsenal can compete given a lack of transfer funds.
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Arsenal beat Liverpool 2-1 on Wednesday but they were second-best for large periods and they hung in there and made the most of Liverpool’s defensive mistakes.
Despite being pleased with the win, Arteta is under no illusions as to how far Arsenal have to go to compete with Liverpool and Manchester City, let alone Chelsea, Manchester United and Leicester City ahead of them in the table.
Speaking to our partners in the UK Sky Sports, Arteta was asked how much of a concern a lack of Arsenal transfer funds is.
“It’s a big concern. You can see how [Liverpool] build their squad and there is no magic, you need to improve the squad with quality, quality players. And we need a bigger squad to compete in this competition,” Arteta said. “That is the challenge. It’s a massive job. You only have to look at the difference between the two teams – it’s enormous. The gap in many areas we can’t improve it in two months but the gap between the accountability, the energy, the commitment and the fight between the two teams is now equal. Before it wasn’t like this. I’m very proud of that. The rest will take some time but at least we’ve got that now and my message to the players is with that we can create something.”
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Arteta is a realist and realistically he has done pretty much all he can with this group of players during his first seven months in charge at Arsenal.
He’s made them more solid defensively, something which is key as he told ProSoccerTalk recently, but with the players at his disposal he’s close to maxing out their potential.
Arsenal probably need two new center backs and a holding midfielder to start with. Arteta is going to have to go creative in the transfer market to do that and may have to sacrifice Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to rebuild his defense.
Rob Holding, Shkodran Mustafi, Sokratis, David Luiz and Callum Chambers are his current center back options and he does have youngster William Saliba coming in for next season. It’s likely that Holding, Chambers and Saliba will be the only three long-term center backs at Arsenal.
In holding midfield, Matteo Guendouzi will likely leave, while Dani Ceballos has been a revelation in a deeper role but his loan from Real Madrid ends soon and it’s unlikely that Arsenal can afford to buy him permanently. Granit Xhaka is what he is. Solid enough but not a game-changer, while Lucas Torreira is back fit but is he strong enough to thrive in the Premier League?
If Arsenal could sign Thomas Partey and Kalidou Koulibaly, that would be perfect to strengthen their defensive unit because we all know they have plenty of quality in attack. However, a loan move for Samuel Umtiti at center back seems more likely and can Arsenal afford Partey?
It remains to be seen if Arteta gets the funds he needs and if he doesn’t it’s tough to see this current Arsenal squad doing any more than challenging for a top four spot, if everything goes their way and their players play at the top of their potential.