Per Mertesacker has appeared to question Arsenal’s chances of success next season and their transfer business so far this summer, as well as claiming they were lucky to finish the season as runners-up in the Premier League behind Leicester.
The Gunners have signed Switzerland international midfielder Granit Xhaka, Japanese striker Takuma Asano and Bolton defender Rob Holding while many of their expected rivals at the top of the league have strengthened considerably.
Mertesacker admitted Arsenal players were disappointed not to be able to capitalise on the failure of Manchester United, Chelsea, Manchester City and Liverpool to win the title last season and expects it could be even harder in the campaign ahead.
“The way last season went, we were quite lucky to finish second,” Mertesacker is reported as saying on the Sun’s website. “We turned things around at the end but it was kind of a miracle we finished runners-up.
“What really disappointed us was that Leicester were able to take advantage of all the other big teams suffering and we couldn’t do the same. That will be a big motivation next season — to keep up with all those good teams who finished behind us.
“Of course, those big clubs will be stronger this time. That’s what I expect as they’ll start the season with a lot of new players. A lot of transfer business has already been done and it won’t be easy for us this time, especially with all the signings going to the other clubs.
“So we also need to be stronger and I am looking forward to seeing how well we compete for the title with not a lot of signings and a lot of young players.”
Arsenal have been linked with Mauro Icardi, Gonzalo Higuain, Alexandre Lacazette and Riyad Mahrez and have been publicly rebuffed by Jamie Vardy but Arsene Wenger remains confident he can improve his squad.
“It’s not over. Today we are in July, and the transfer market finishes on the 31st of August,” he said following the 1-1 preseason draw with Lens. “We know as well that a lot happens many times in the last week. It’s a long time to go, but we are active. We are working.”