Former Arsenal and England midfielder Paul Merson believes the Gunners are at least 20 years away from challenging for a Premier League title.

Merson believes that the club is in a mess due to poor decision making that has seen them have to restrict the contracts they can offer potential new signings and even those currently at the club whose deals are coming to an end.

Are the Gunners unable to compete? Five things to know…

  1. Arsenal have not won a Premier League title since 2004.
  2. They last finished as runners up in 2016, a clear 10 points behind Champions Leicester City.
  3. Arsene Wenger stepped down last summer with Unai Emery taking the reins.
  4. Mesut Ozil signed a new big-money deal in January 2018 making him the highest paid player in Arsenal history.
  5. Aaron Ramsey will leave Arsenal after the club withdrew from contract talks.

Merson believes that allowing star players like Aaron Ramsey to leave in a time when footballers of his calibre are being signed in multi-million-pound deals, shows how the club have mismanaged their resources.

The former Gunner suggested that Arsenal need at least seven players in key areas before they are able to compete with the likes of Manchester City and Liverpool and gave a candid response when asked how long his old club need to get back to challenging for a title.

“What do you think? 20 years.

“They’re a million miles away at the moment and the way it is going right now they probably need seven players to compete.”

It is thought that the Gunners need to cut their wage bill which is one of the highest in the Premier League and as a result decided against re-signing Ramsey. This has left Merson bemused blaming the call on bad club management.

“Letting Ramsey leave is just bad, bad club management isn’t it,” Merson told Sky Sports.

“To let player contracts run out in this day and age for how much these players go for and how much they’re worth is criminal.

“To let him leave the club and walk away for free, somebody in his prime leaving for nothing, it’s a football crime.

“Now they have got to replace him and that will cost money but until the Ozil problem gets sorted out they are going to find it difficult to bring in players.

“Because if they bid £50-60m for someone, the first thing the player will say is well I want what Ozil is getting.

“And when the club says you aren’t getting that then the player will just say well I’m not coming then. And that is what happened with Ramsey.”

Is Mesut Ozil worth £350,000 per week?

It is always hard to quantify whether any player in the Premier League is worth the mega-sums they are reported to be earning but looking at Ozil’s contribution for the Gunners this season it is probably fair to say that Emery should be expecting more from the German.

Ozil has just three goals and one assist in his 12 Premier League starts this campaign which has seen the player struggle at times.

Last season though, Ozil managed eight assists in 26 top flight appearances while he netted just four times which suggest that, for goals scored at least, this season is trending on an upward curve.

His 2.1 chances created per game is the highest of any Arsenal player again suggesting his creative talents are very much still on show.

Unai Emery will certainly be hoping to get more out of his star midfielder as the Gunners head into the business end of the season with his side lying three points off the top four after 21 games.

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