Thierry Henry says he finds it hard to understand Arsenal’s failure to compete in the transfer market and fears the very best players may no longer want to join the club.
Arsenal lost their opening Premier League fixture 4-3 at home to Liverpool on Sunday, with Arsene Wenger missing several players through injury and lack of fitness after Euro 2016.
Granit Xhaka — the club’s only major signing this summer — came on as a 67th-minute substitute while 20-year-old Rob Holding, who arrived from Bolton Wanderers last month, started at centre-back, but Arsenal have so far been outspent by all of their expected title rivals.
“The thing I don’t understand is: we’ve been told that Arsenal are wealthy, that we have money, that we can compete against anyone in the market, but when the season starts, we can’t compete in the market,” Henry said in his role as a pundit for Sky Sports. “So which one is it? I just don’t understand.
“Are Arsenal still the first choice in England? If a big player becomes available on the market, first of all, can you compete? Can you put the money on the table? Next, is the money stupid? We all know the money is stupid but you have to pay.
“And finally does the player want to come to Arsenal? That’s something we all need to take into consideration. So are we still the first choice in England? I don’t think so.”
Arsenal have been working on a deal for Valencia centre-back Shkodran Mustafi and continue to be linked with Lyon forward Alexandre Lacazette, and Henry said they are the two positions that have to be covered.
“In general I think Arsenal need a centre-back and a striker,” Henry, who left his coaching role with Arsenal last month, said. “If they cannot get that striker, they should play Alexis Sanchez with Olivier Giroud.
“It doesn’t have to be a world-class striker, but someone who can bring something different. You don’t always win the league with the league’s top goal scorer. I finished top scorer of the league with Arsenal and didn’t win the title.
“Sometimes you just need something different and I think Alexis can be that guy.”