Arsenal are no longer in a position where they can sign a Thierry Henry or Robert Pires, says Dennis Bergkamp, with Mikel Arteta having to get “inventive” in a bid to recapture former glories.
The Gunners remain an attractive option for any new recruits, but are not the force that they once were.
When Arsene Wenger was guiding the north London outfit to Premier League titles and a Champions League final appearance, the very best talent on the planet could be enticed to north London.
Regression since then, along with the big spending of others, has made life a little tougher for Arsenal in the present.
Bergkamp admits as much, with a club legend hoping that Arteta will be given the time he needs in which to complete a rebuilding project with shrewd signings and promotion of home-grown stars.
The Gunners great told BBC Sport: “They cannot just go out and sign big names in every position, but they have a lot of talent coming through.
“They have to be inventive if they want success, but it looks like the club is heading upwards again and I think if the fans can see progress, they don't mind having to wait.
“They will need that patience too. Whether it's Arsenal or anyone else, if you don't spend big money then it takes time to build something.
“When you finish eighth, like they did last season, it is a big challenge to get players of the level of Thierry Henry or Robert Pires. You have to try something different, rely a little more on the manager, his philosophy and the playing style - and, yes, build yourself up.
“Part of that is developing the players you have already got. There are a lot of managers who think they can change players by 40% or 50%, but I don't believe in that.
“I think, even with youth players, you can change them only by a small percentage - but that is enough, especially in top football.”
Arsenal’s last outing showed how much work they still have to do in order to rejoin the elite, with Liverpool dominating a Premier League fixture at Anfield which saw the defending champions collect a 3-1 win.