Merson feels adding experience is vital for the Gunners
Merson feels adding experience is vital for the Gunners (Picture: Sky Sports)

Arsenal must focus on bringing in experienced players in the summer transfer window, according to Gunners legend Paul Merson.

Mikel Arteta’s youthful squad narrowly missed out on qualifying for Champions League football, finishing the season two points behind north London rivals Tottenham, who claimed fourth spot.

A top-four finish was in their hands, until a dismal defeat to Newcastle in the final week of the season gave Spurs the advantage.

Arteta's side fell short in the race for the top four
Arteta’s side fell short in the race for the top four (Picture: Getty Images)

Arsenal’s top scorers across all competitions in the 2021/22 campaign were Bukayo Saka, 20, Emile Smith Rowe, 21, and Eddie Nketiah, 22.

Merson feels his former club require more players around the age of 28 or 29 in order to move forwards.

‘The next few players Arsenal buy need to be experienced professionals in my opinion, ideally 28 or 29 years old. They need experience in the team. They have a lorryload of promising youngsters but they froze when it came to the crunch. They’ve got to get some experience in the team,’ Merson told the Daily Star.

‘Gabriel Jesus would be a good fit. He’s only 25 but he ticks the boxes because he scores goals, Arteta knows him, and he has experience of winning trophies with Manchester City. It’s alright having young players but the problem is one minute they are up high and the next minute they are down low.

‘They can’t play well every week. It’s impossible. That comes with age. So they need to be helped along. And Arsenal don’t have the quality, experienced leaders to do that. This is a hard league – and they get targeted as well. Teams tell players to pick Bukayo Saka up now because they know he’s a big danger man.

‘It’s about getting through those rough 20 minutes in games at places like Newcastle where you have to get a result. You learn that as you get older.

‘That’s the most important thing in this next window – bringing in experience. It’s their biggest window in a massively long time if I’m being honest. They got it so wrong in January. I don’t know anybody who thinks that was a success.

‘The season has been disappointing because they’ve punched above their weight. They started with three straight defeats remember. But if they get it right this time I think they’re in for a good season, I really do. The kids will be a year older. They should have a stronger side if they buy well.’

MORE : Aaron Ramsdale defends Arsenal’s January window and predicts ‘interesting’ summer

MORE : Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta wants to sign Oleksandr Zinchenko and convert him back into a midfielder

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