Arsenal would be mad to relaunch a free transfer swoop for Dries Mertens despite the fact the Daily Express suggested the Belgian international could be a target to revisit in the summer transfer window if the Gunners want to potentially save money.
The article says that the north London club were interested in a move in January and Arsenal may look to swoop in the summer if Mertens does not sign a new contract within that time, thus making him essentially a free signing.
However, signing the 32-year old would hinder the development of youth that Mikel Arteta is trying to build, especially up front in Eddie Nketiah. The Spanish coach has given 57 total appearances to players around Nketiah’s age or younger, with the likes of Bukayo Saka, Matteo Guendouzi, Gabriel Martinelli, Reiss Nelson and Joe Willock given playing time despite their age, according to Transfermarkt.
If Mertens comes in, given that he tends to play in the same position as Nketiah, it may reduce the youngster’s game time when it does not need to. The 20-year old averages the fourth-highest shots per game in the Premier League behind Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Alexandre Lacazette and Nicolas Pepe who have all had significantly more minutes in the top flight than him anyway (via Whoscored), exemplifying his attacking credentials.
Furthermore, the striker has been hailed by club legend Ian Wright, who praised his link-up play and sharpness in Arsenal’s 2-0 win away at Portsmouth in the FA Cup last-sixteen.
Given Nketiah’s attacking credentials and Mertens potentially wanting to demand higher wages because of his reputation both at club level and internationally, it would be mad to sign him. Spending money on in an area – even if it just through wages – well-covered by an exciting youngster clearly trusted by the boss seems ill-advised when it could be spent elsewhere.
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