'He'd get the fans excited' – Petit tells Arsenal to sign Premier League star
Emmanuel Petit has been left baffled by Arsenal’s recruitment in recent years and believes the club should pursue a summer bid to sign Crystal Palace’s Wilfried Zaha as the forward has the ability to get fans off their seats.
The Gunners missed out on European football after finishing the Premier League campaign down in eighth place and Mikel Arteta is intent on overhauling his failing squad after a miserable first full season at the helm.
A number of high-profile players are being linked with moves to north London and Arsenal confirmed this week that Dani Ceballos, Martin Odegaard, David Luiz and Mat Ryan will be departing.
Meanwhile, the likes of Thomas Partey, Gabriel Magalhaes and Nicolas Pepe have all failed to live up to expectations after arriving at the Emirates with hefty price tags and Petit feels his former side have horribly misfired in the transfer market for some time.
The Frenchman – who made 118 appearances across his three-year spell under Arsene Wenger – reckons the writing could be on the wall for Arsenal’s owners should they once again fail to ‘get it right’ this summer.
‘Arsenal have to improve their squad in the summer transfer window. The questions over the club and the dressing room have been the same every single season,’ the ex-Arsenal midfielder Petit told Paddy Power.
‘Before Arsene Wenger left the club, the last two seasons of his reign were not very good. The questions were already on the table, and it was the same with Unai Emery and now with Mikel Arteta, people are questioning him – but the main questions are over the dressing room and the profile of the players Arsenal buy and sell. The questions remain the same and they still haven’t been answered, and this is it, they must get it right this time.
‘Arsenal have finished eighth in the Premier League in the last two seasons. In the last two decades, I’ve never seen Arsenal drop so far down the table.
‘In the transfer market I know it’s a question of money but Arsenal have the money. They probably can’t compete for the big players but they need to get decent players with the right mentality.
‘Arsenal have spent £40m, £50m, £60m on players recently and I’ve found myself wondering, “Why have they bought that guy? Give me one argument, one reason why you bought this player”. I really don’t understand.
‘If you add to that, the frustration of the fans, after a year without football, and the Super League situation as well, when the fans return to the stadium, they will be wanting to see a proper team with the right mentality and the right players. Otherwise, that could be the last season for the owners if they’re still doing what they’re doing.’
Arsenal were on the verge of signing Zaha before going on to land Nicolas Pepe back in 2019 and Petit has encouraged the club to revive their move for the Palace winger this summer.
‘Zaha has been repeatedly linked with Arsenal in recent years. Arsenal used to play with wingers and guys who could make a difference on the flank, who would take responsibility and show the hunger and desire to get the victory – that was the Arsenal that I knew!’ Petit added.
‘When I played for Arsenal in the late 1990s we had Marc Overmars, Sylvain Wiltord and Robert Pires – these players were so exciting to watch.
‘Zaha is an unpredictable player, you don’t know what he’s going to do with the ball. He’s got a strong character, and sometimes he needs to control of his emotions, but he’s exactly the kind of player Arsenal need. He’d get the fans excited and stimulate his own team-mates too.
‘For ages, Arsenal haven’t had a player who could dribble or make a difference with the ball at his feet. With Zaha, they would have somebody capable of taking responsibility and not scared to take on defenders.’
According to The Times, Zaha has told Palace that he intends to find a new club ahead of the 2021/22 campaign.
The Ivory Coast attacker wants a move wrapped up before pre-season training begins next month, despite having two years remaining on his current contract at Selhurst Park.
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