Sterling, Abraham & Tielemans? Arsenal transfer plans drawn up by Gunners legend Petit

Raheem Sterling Manchester City 2021-22Getty

Arsenal are being linked with a number of potential transfer targets heading towards the summer window, with Mikel Arteta expected to be kept busy on the recruitment front – especially if he can secure a return ticket to the Champions League this season.

Much of the attention when it comes to rumours has focused on the middle and final thirds of the field, with north London heavyweights in the market for more creativity and firepower.

From Raheem Sterling to Tammy Abraham via Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Youri Tielemans, an arrivals lounge at Emirates Stadium may be about to see plenty of footfall, with Gunners great Emmanuel Petit offering his take on who should be snapped up.

Article continues below

Should Arsenal look to sign Sterling from Man City?

When then question was put to 1998 World Cup winner Petit, a man who took in Premier League and FA Cup triumphs during his time at Arsenal, he told GOAL while speaking in association with Genting Casino: “Every single team wants to get quality players in their dressing room. Sterling is one of them. He has shown very good quality.

“Of course he must show more in terms of regularity of performance, in terms of scoring goals, but I think he has improved since arriving at Manchester City. Playing in different positions has been good for him as well.

“Modern football is about speed, and Sterling brings that. He brings speed in the penalty area, very close to the danger zone all the time. Because he has played different positions, this is something new for him and could be good for Arteta in terms of tactics.

“Arsenal desperately need speed up front. They have it with [Gabriel] Martinelli, they have it with [Bukayo] Saka, sometimes with [Eddie] Nketiah, but they need more. When you look at the top guns in Europe and the Premier League, you need speed up front.”

Petit went on say of Sterling, who has seen an exit mooted at Manchester City for some time: “He has improved his goal scoring record. I’m not sure that he’s a typical striker that can play up front. For me, I think his best position is on the wing when he can play one-against-one and make a difference. He can bring big danger to the opposition defence.

“If you put him in the centre of the attack, there are so many defenders in this area, and holding midfielders, which makes it more difficult for him. If you put that kind of player on the wing, it is very difficult for the opponents when it is one-against-one all the time.”

Could Abraham or Calvert-Lewin be the answer for Arsenal?

Tammy Abraham Roma 2021-22Getty

With Sterling more at home on the flanks than he is down the middle, while Alexandre Lacazette and Eddie Nketiah are seeing their respective contracts run down, Arsenal are expected to move for a new No.9 when another window swings open.

Quizzed on whether raids could be launched on Roma or Everton for a more physical presence to lead the line, Petit said: “They need a physical presence, especially when they play against compact defences. I’m pretty sure Arsenal will get back step by step to what it was before, in terms of controlling the game. That means they will have to play most of the time against opponents that will play compact defensively and try to play counter-attack all the time. That means you need something different.

“For me, Abraham or Calvert-Lewin have that. They are very physical in the penalty area, with heading, and they will take two opponents all of the time.

“Between the two, Abraham and Calvert-Lewin, they are very good young players, very interesting prospects for the future, but the fact that Abraham left Chelsea and what he is doing with Roma – he is not far from winning a European cup and is one of the best scorers in Italy – who could have predicted that last season when he left?

“If you bring him back to England, especially in London, he will have the feeling of revenge – which is very important to find, that extra motivation. I would say take Tammy Abraham.”

Would Tielemans thrive in Arsenal’s midfield?

Youri Tielemans Leicester 2021-22Getty Images

Arsenal have plenty of playmaking talent ready to provide the ammunition for any new frontman, but Arteta appears to want at least one more midfielder to slot into his pack for 2022-23.

A Belgium international on Leicester’s books is said to have caught his eye, with Petit saying of a proven performer at the King Power Stadium: “At Liverpool and Manchester City, the midfielders are playing as quarter-backs and Tielemans can do that.

“He has improved his physical presence on the pitch. Mentally as well, he has delivered to compete in the Premier League. He was not that type of player at Monaco. He was very good technically with the ball, but he was missing this impact physically and mentally. I think he has improved a lot since he arrived in the Premier League.

“For me, if you want players like Tielemans then you have to be in control of the game all the time because he drives the game perfectly with his vision. He can break the lines with one pass, and score goals.

“It depends how Arsenal want to play. If they want to play from the back all the time, that means they need players with personality in the midfield area who can absorb pressure from the opposition. Tielemans has got this quality. [Granit] Xhaka, [Thomas] Partey have different qualities. Tielemans is more flexible, he can be surrounded by physical players and bring tempo to the game.”

How many signings do Arsenal need in the summer window?

With some big money needing to be spent in order to tick many boxes at Arsenal, Petit added on how many deals he would be looking to do if big recruitment calls were passed in his direction: “At least four players. They need at least two players up front. If they can take five players, that would be perfect.

“Two up front, two in midfield – we need a creative midfielder. [Emile] Smith Rowe and [Martin] Odegaard are good but they have to play in midfield, not be moved out wide. They need two midfielders, one creative and one box-to-box. Maybe a holding midfielder. Tielemans can play as a holder and as a No.8 as well.

“They need two guys up front. Definitely one striker as if Lacazette leaves then they still have the same number as it is now with Lacazette and Nketiah.

“They need a fast player on the wing as well. Martinelli has done great, but he needs to improve in terms of scoring and assists. They need a speed player, like [Wilfried] Zaha or [Allan] Saint-Maximin, those kind of players.”

Further reading