Tony Adams has called on Arsene Wenger to sign a defensive midfielder this summer. The former Gunners' captain believes the balance of the north London club's play has been compromised without the presence of an anchorman.
"The problem with Arsenal in recent years is they have been too open. They are very susceptible to the counter attack. Since Gilberto went, that screen has been missing. The balance is all wrong. They are too gung-ho, the full-backs bomb forward and there is no security," Adams explained.
"They need to find the player - either in the system or go out and buy him - to go into that holding midfield role. They need someone in there who can break up play when they throw everyone forward," the 46-year-old added.
Wenger has been linked with several players in that holding midfield role since Cameroonian Alex Song joined Barcelona in a £15m deal last year. However, any signing appears to be far from complete, with the long-serving Gunners boss happy to play either veteran Spaniard Mikel Arteta or young Welshman Aaron Ramsey in that role. Wenger does have France international Abou Diaby but the 27-year-old midfielder is notoriously injury-prone and has struggled for fitness for several seasons now.
There was talk of a bid for Bundesliga stars Luis Gustavo and Lars Bender. However, Wenger's reluctance to spend on transfers saw the club lose Brazil international Gustavo to Vfl Wolfsburg. Meanwhile, Bayer Leverkusen have rejected an £18.5m bid for Bender, according to the Guardian. And with the Germans having joined Arsenal in the group stages of the Champions League this season, it is unlikely the 24-year-old will be allowed to leave this year.
Newcastle United midfielder Yohan Cabaye is another name linked to Arsenal in recent weeks but that signing, should it happen, will not please Adams. Cabaye is a distinctly more attacking midfielder and will join Jack Wilshere, Tomas Rosicky, Santi Cazorla and others in a fight for places further upfield.
St Etienne youngster Joshua Guilavogui has also emerged as a possible target and the 22-year-old does fit the job description. However, there are sure to be question marks over his ability to make an instant impact in the Premier League and, in particular, European competition.
"Arsenal will always score goals. They can score goals from all the pitch. There is no problem going forward. They have enough offensive players. They just need someone to lock it up when it breaks down," Adams explained.
"I can understand the frustration of the fans... you can't win without the best and too many have gone. They need to be looking for the next best Gilberto. There's a kid at Sporting Lisbon, Eric Dier, who's English, he's 19, maybe he could fill the gap? He certainly wouldn't cost £30m or £50m. So can Arsene [Wenger] unearth another one," he concluded.