Emmanuel Petit wants Arsenal to sign Leicester’s Riyad Mahrez.
The former Arsenal midfielder feels that the winger’s pace and trickery would really improve Arsenal’s attack. “He knows the Premier League by heart, and has had an incredible impact in it,” Petit told SFR Sport. “He’s the kind of player cruelly lacking for Arsenal down the right.
“I say stop focusing on the problems at the back. I’m among those who think the further away the ball is from your goal, the less chance you have of conceding a goal. And the more players you have who are capable of holding on to the ball… How many players are there in world football of that profile?
“If I were a coach I’d love to have dribblers in my team — quick, technically good, capable of saying [to a defender], ‘I’m going to humiliate you with two feints, two step-overs.’ There aren’t many dribblers. Arsenal only have one, that’s Alexis Sanchez. They have a lot of guys who run quickly, but they run in a straight line.”
Arsenal have been linked with Mahrez all summer but appear to not have an interest in the Algerian despite his willingness to leave Leicester. It’s certainly true that Arsenal’s attack can become static and predictable at times. Even Alexis Sanchez, the most unpredictable attacker in the squad, usually has a limited number of moves at his disposal.
He might not even be here after Thursday. That would leave Arsenal with Mesut Ozil, Theo Walcott, Danny Welbeck and Alex Iwobi and out of them, only Iwobi is a tricky dribbler capable of doing something unpredictable.
Petit’s idea of having attackers who can keep the ball is great, but does ignore the reality that Arsenal are short on quality defensive options and do need to strengthen. Earlier this month, Wenger denied any interest in Mahrez and stated that he had many players like him in the squad already.
Although plenty can still happen between now and Thursday’s deadline – for example, Arsenal selling Alexis to Manchester City – it’s looking very likely that Mahrez will remain a Leicester player.