Arsenal told to go all out to sign Premier League ace who would ‘walk into Man Utd’s XI’
Arsenal's Premier League Fixtures 2022/23
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Paul Merson believes that Arsenal should ‘pull out all the stops’ to sign Southampton captain James Ward-Prowse. The England international has been linked with a move to West Ham in recent days but Merson believes Mikel Arteta should seek to hijack any deal.
The 27-year-old has spent his entire career at the south-coast side, racking up over 300 appearances in the process. He enjoyed an impressive season for the Saints this year, scoring 10 times and contributing a further five assists. He has built a particularly impressive record from dead-ball situations with many considering him to be the best free-kick taker in the world.
It is no secret that Arsenal are looking to improve their options in the centre of the park. The club look set to imminently complete a deal for Porto star Fabio Vieira while they have also been heavily linked with Leicester ace Youri Tielemans. However, Merson believes they have not focused their transfer attention on the right player.
“I don’t understand why Arsenal are not pulling out all the stops to try and take James Ward-Prowse from Southampton,” the Sky Sports pundit told the Daily Star. “I think he is one of the best passers of the ball in England and Arsenal are crying out for a player who can spray the ball around from the middle of the pitch.
“I think he’s massively underrated. He could play for any of the top clubs. He would walk into the Manchester United team. He’d be perfect for them as well.”
Despite many solid performances, Arsenal’s current central midfield options are limited in their style of play according to Merson. Ward-Prowse would provide a different option that could help get the best out of their attacking players.
“They have plenty who can play nice, one-touch, tippy-tappy stuff but no-one who can switch the play or play a killer ball over the top,” the former Gunners player added.
“Granit Xhaka. Thomas Partey. Mo Elneny. None of them can do that. They are all exactly the same type of player.
“Arsenal need to get the ball out to Bukayo Saka, Emile Smith Rowe and Gabriel Martinelli as quickly as possible sometimes so they can run at people.”
Arsenal suffered a disappointing end to the 2021/22 blowing a promising points lead over fierce rivals Tottenham Hotspur to finish outside the Champions League places in fifth. West Ham finished 7th despite a competitive Europa League campaign and will be looking to build on their season’s performances to enter the Champions League.
Merson believes that if Arsenal do not act to get the Englishman ahead of their London they could risk falling behind them in their quest for Europe. “Letting Ward-Prowse go to West Ham would be a blow in another way because they are a Champions League-chasing team too,” Merson explained.
“West Ham are closing the gap and I think it would be a mistake to let them get him.”
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