‘£200m won’t fix Arsenal, but Stones would be a start’ – Merson sees Gunners ‘a million miles away’

‘£200m won’t fix Arsenal, but Stones would be a start’ – Merson sees Gunners ‘a million miles away’

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A former star in north London says Mikel Arteta has a big rebuilding job on his hands, but feels a Man City defender could be a useful addition

Arsenal have been warned that £200 million ($251m) would not be enough to fix their problems, but Paul Merson believes snapping up John Stones from Manchester City would be a step in the right direction.

Inconsistency remains an issue for those at Emirates Stadium, with a top-four finish once again proving to be out of reach for the Gunners in 2019-20.

The familiar face of Mikel Arteta has been drafted in to try and turn the tide, with a former club captain now being asked to provide inspiration from the dugout.

A relatively inexperienced Spanish tactician has offered cause for optimism through the early months of his reign, but is considered to have a sizeable rebuilding job on his hands.

Merson admits as much, with it difficult to see how a frugal outfit who remain “a million miles away” from the Premier League elite can buy their way out of trouble.

There are many boxes for Arsenal to tick when it comes to recruitment, with the addition of a proven centre-back picked out as a top priority – with it possible that England international Stones, who is seeing an exit mooted at the Etihad Stadium, could provide assistance in that department.

“Mikel Arteta has no chance of getting the money he needs out of Arsenal,” former Gunners star Merson told the Daily Star.

“They could spend £200m and still not make the Champions League next season because the gap is so big.

“They need a centre-back, a central midfielder and another striker. The whole spine of the team really.

“And I think he might go for John Stones at Manchester City. Pep Guardiola doesn’t seem to trust him, and Arteta has worked with him before.

“Arsenal need an out and out defender, not another David Luiz who knows how to play the ball out from the back but makes a lot of mistakes.

“But Stones is English, young enough to improve, and Arteta will know all about him and know he fits into the system.

“Arsenal beat Liverpool this week but how many chances did Jurgen Klopp’s have? They won the game because of a couple of mistakes.

“You don’t normally see Virgil Van Dijk and Alisson making mistakes like that and I expect City to beat them in the FA Cup semi final.

“Arsenal have a chance because it’s a one-off game and anything can happen. If they defend like they did against Liverpool it could get interesting.

“But that’s the thing with Arsenal, you can’t rely on them to play with any consistency and they would have to get massively lucky to get to the final.

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“Arteta said himself the gap to the top two is enormous and he’s dead right. Arsenal are a million miles away.

“If you look at the quality of City versus Liverpool and the North London Derby, it’s chalk and cheese really.”

Arteta is still waiting to discover what his transfer budget will be for the summer window, but remains confident that those calling the shots behind the scenes in north London will deliver on expectations.

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