Philippe Coutinho would be “a very exciting signing” for Arsenal, admits Martin Keown, but a deal for the Barcelona playmaker is considered to be “far-fetched”.
The Brazil international has seen rumours surface regarding a shock switch to Emirates Stadium.
Having struggled to prove his worth on the back of a big-money transfer to Camp Nou from Liverpool, and now facing more competition for places in Catalunya, a return to English football has been mooted.
Manchester United were credited with interest at one stage, while talk of a possible retracing of his steps to Anfield has delivered a mixed response.
Arsenal have become the latest Premier League side to see a swoop talked up, but Unai Emery has sought to distance himself from the rumours.
Keown is not surprised to see the speculation being played down, with it highly unlikely that the Gunners – who have already invested a club-record £72 million ($88m) fee in Nicolas Pepe – would be able to bring in another high-profile creative influence.
The ex-Arsenal defender told The Mirror: "It's a shame to think that it is far-fetched when they could have been real possibilities.
"I would love to see him at Arsenal without a doubt, he is a great talent who has lost his way a bit but I think it is too much to hope for that he ends up at Arsenal.
"He's a top quality player, the way he breaks from deep-lying midfield positions, his shooting ability - it's a mystery why it hasn't gone well for him at Barcelona.
"It would be a very exciting signing."
While pleased to see Arsenal being linked with match-winning talent in the final third of the field, Keown admits he is surprised to have seen little movement at the back.
Laurent Koscielny is edging towards the exits at Emirates Stadium, as he closes in on a switch to Bordeaux, and Emery – despite much talk of a move for Celtic left-back Kieran Tierney – is set to head into the 2019-20 campaign with a defensive unit that has drawn plenty of criticism in the past.
"He must think he can do it tactically with the players he has," Keown added.
"Otherwise it's very obvious that he should have been buying central defenders, or defensively minded individuals both in midfield and at the back.
"So he has made decisions in regards to the personalities he wants and he's gone after and pursed this talent, so that's a gamble because we know there is a weakness and only time will tell if he's got that right."