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‘Arsenal need to spend £70m on a Van Dijk’ – Graham sees ‘a lot to be done’ by Emery

3:39 am AEST 2/6/19
Sokratis Laurent Koscielny Arsenal Chelsea Europa League final 2019
The legendary former Gunners boss is among those calling for defensive additions, but he does sees signs of encouragement at Emirates Stadium

Arsenal need to find themselves a £70 million version of Virgil van Dijk, says George Graham, with there “a lot to be done” by Unai Emery in reversing the fortunes of the Gunners.

A Spanish coach has just finished his debut campaign at Emirates Stadium.

He inherited a tough job from Arsene Wenger and was unable to deliver a top-four finish in the Premier League or Europa League glory – with Chelsea claiming a 4-1 win in a continental showpiece.

The Gunners are considered to have a sizeable rebuilding job on their hands, but may only have a limited budget to work with.

That will be a problem, especially as Graham believes some serious investment is required.

The ex-Arsenal boss told football.london: “They’ve got goals in the team and they’ve proved that this year, the way they’ve scored goals. But they’ve also conceded.

“I see other teams like Liverpool, buying Virgil van Dijk for £70 million.

“I think if they can do it, can Arsenal do it. They need that type of quality.”

While the Gunners will be without Champions League football for a third successive season in 2019-20, and in need of another refresh, Graham sees signs of encouragement.

He added: “For me, I think it’s been a good season.

“If they’d have won the Europa League it would have been very good. The top six was a possibility, and they got that, but to be in the top four would have been an excellent season.

“They just missed out on that and when you see some of the games you can understand why.

“I’ve been there when I’ve seen them play well, against Chelsea at home, Manchester United at home, so I’ve seen them perform well. Now they’ve got to do that regularly, which is the problem.

“From what I’m hearing, he’s [Emery] doing a lot of work on the training pitch. I just think that the last few years the team have been struggling.”

Wenger walked away from Arsenal last summer after 22 years at the helm and Graham concedes that whoever inherited the reins was always going to find it difficult stepping into those shoes and delivering an immediate impact.

“When Arsene left, whoever was going to take over, they had a big job. And it’s still a big job,” said a man who oversaw two league titles, two League Cup wins, a Cup Winners’ Cup success and FA Cup triumph during his time at the Gunners helm.

“There's a lot to be done at the club.”