Arsenal have long needed to sign a player who can provide competition and back-up to Bukayo Saka. With the prospect of being without their star player against Manchester City on Sunday, sporting director Edu only has himself to blame.
Saka has played 87 Premier League matches in a row, a club record dating back to May 2021. He has started 83 of them, so onlookers may say there is no need to bring in another player in his position.
But it is a run that cannot last forever and could well be coming to an end on Sunday following the muscular injury he picked up in the loss to Lens on Tuesday. Saka only turned 22 last month but has already played an incredible amount of football.
He has made 189 appearances for Arsenal in all competitions, the most by any player in the current squad. He is also a shoo-in in the England side having won 30 caps since his debut three years ago.
Saka was going to break down at some point soon and the warning signs were there. He has been nursing an Achilles problem since the end of last season.
There isn’t a game that goes by where he isn’t limping following a heavy tackle. Why Edu hasn’t signed a player who can provide capable back-up is beyond many Arsenal fans.
Arsenal have been linked with right-sided attackers for what seems like several transfer windows. Players understandably may be put off by the fact that Saka is undoubtedly the first choice and they may have to play second fiddle.
But that problem can be solved by signing a player who can play in multiple positions. Moussa Diaby and Pedro Neto are two players who spring to mind.
Diaby is excelling at Aston Villa in a role behind the striker. But he can easily slot in on the right of a front three if need be, cutting in onto his left foot like Arteta desires.
Arsenal had been linked with the Frenchman and £51.9million looks to be a steal. Villa would likely want double that to let him go now.
Wolves star Neto is a similar player, who operates mainly off the right but can play on the other flank too. Arsenal were interested in 2022 but were put off by a high asking price and his poor recent injury record.
Interest has re-emerged in the Portugal international but Wolves will be reluctant to let him go mid-season. Neto and Diaby are just two of many players whom Arsenal could have brought in as Saka back-up.
Edu and his recruitment staff have surely scoured the globe for a player who can fulfil that requirement. Marquinhos fits the profile but is currently nowhere near the level Arsenal need and has been shipped out on loan again.
Saka could miss his first Premier League game in 889 days come Sunday in the biggest game of the season so far. And Edu’s failure in the transfer market means Arteta has no one who can fill in.