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Waste of money: Arsenal’s Zaha pursuit would ignore major defensive issues – Opinion

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Reports earlier this week suggested Unai Emery was preparing to ask the Gunners board for more cash – though only in order to bid for Wilfried Zaha.

A number of issues immediately come to mind following this revelation – the first being why Emery’s justification for wanting more money is a player that Arsenal do not need.

Another is why Emery has seemingly only just realised that fulfilling the club’s ambitions to reach the Champions League will require a bit more than the supposedly measly £45m at his disposal this summer.

What’s more is that the manager clearly does not have his priorities in order when it comes to Arsenal’s transfer targets – and in any case, Crystal Palace’s previous £100m demands for the Ivorian suggest The Gunners would do well to table a bid anywhere near that amount – as wild as it is.

Zaha may have had his best season in front of goal last season, netting 10 times for The Eagles in 2018/19, but at his price, Arsenal would be better suited rectifying problems from other areas of the pitch.

There’s no doubt that Arsenal could do with a winger, given the lack thereof in the current squad, but such an outlay on a player only as productive as Zaha would be too large a risk for The Gunners to take with their limited financial resources.

If they are to gain further injections of cash from the board, spreading that investment across the squad would be more beneficial. A budget more akin to the size of a Champions League side would leave the club on a more level playing field with regards to qualifying for the competition next season.

So why not sort out the most pressing issue to come out of last season’s failures – the defence?

The defence came in for criticism far too much for Emery to ignore its desperate need for bolstering in the summer. If you’re going to try and double your transfer budget, why would you waste it on a winger?

One superstar defender could transform Arsenal’s fortunes – take Liverpool for example. Virgil Van Dijk is PFA Player of the Year, but partners Joel Matip and Dejan Lovren are nowhere near his level – and yet Liverpool boasted the meanest defence in the Premier League last season.

The likes of Sokratis or Rob Holding can be Arsenal’s Matip or Lovren. But buying Zaha – whether for £100m or £10m – could harm the chances of The Gunners recruiting adequately to their defensive ranks.

Given that Arsenal have apparently stalled for other wide players such as Yannick Carrasco, a gargantuan bid for Zaha would be surprising. And while the 26-year-old has stated his wish to play in the Champions League, any desire to play for Arsenal may be a little misdirected.

Either way, after conceding 51 goals last season and having a Golden Boot winner at the club, Arsenal would surely be better equipped to challenge for a Champions League place with an enhanced defence – with a wish for luring Zaha’s services to The Emirates showing a severe disregard to Arsenal’s obvious issues.

To think Emery would be so blind to that after the year Arsenal endured in the previous campaign beggars belief – so while his desire to boost funds are understandable, his supposed intentions seem wide of the mark.

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