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'Mustafi a waste of £42m & Arsenal have a bottom-six defence'

17:37 GMT+4 03/05/2019
Shkodran Mustafi Arsenal 2018-19
Charlie Nicholas has praised the job Unai Emery has managed to do with a squad that continues to spring alarming leaks at the back

Unai Emery has done a “remarkable job” at Arsenal, says Charlie Nicholas, with the Gunners boss working with a “bottom-six defence” that includes £42 million ($55m) flop Shkodran Mustafi.

As things stand, the north London outfit remain in contention for a top-four finish in the Premier League and Europa League glory.

Progress at home and aboard has been built around creative flair and attacking intent, with the likes of Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang leading the charge.

Their efforts have helped to counter ongoing issues at the back, with Emery considered to have inherited the defensive leaks which first sprung up towards the end of Arsene Wenger’s reign.

Former Gunners star Nicholas told Sky Sports of those issues: "It looks like the board have asked Unai Emery to survive to this summer and see whether we can win Europa League or get the top four.

"Emery has done a remarkable job with a bottom-six Premier League defence.

"He has made mistakes, but who wouldn't make mistakes with this defence?"

Nicholas added, with the Gunners not bringing through home-grown talent and seeing supposedly international performers struggle: "Where are the young Arsenal defenders from the academy?

"It sounds as though with Arsenal's academy, if you are not technically good then you don't fit the criteria for defensive qualities. We have not brought anyone through of any substance at all. If you can't afford the £60m-£70m then you have to start the process of teaching.

"I am not looking for a Tony Adams but someone who has enough speed and understanding of a situation. How we can't find that is beyond me.

"We got Hector Bellerin from Barcelona and Ainsley Maitland-Niles has come through but he is not a defensive type. He is quick enough but not aggressive enough for that position.

"Shkodran Mustafi has been a waste of £42m which is the biggest bug for me. Sead Kolasinac and Nacho Monreal are left wing-backs, while Sokratis Papastathopoulos lacks pace.

"The reality is, Emery needs four or five defenders and that is a concern as that is an overhaul. I have faith in Emery though as he knows exactly what he needs and what he must do in order to make this happen."

Arsenal are expected to dip into the summer transfer market, but the club are famed for their frugal approach to recruitment and Emery may not get the budget he is hoping for.