Arsenal should have attempted to lure Manchester United's Nemanja Matic away from Chelsea according to Ian Wright, who thinks his former club should have "definitely" tried to sign Southampton captain and Liverpool target Virgil van Dijk.
Matic, 29, joined United from the Premier League champions last month for £40m (€44.1m, $52.1m) in a deal that left many perplexed by Chelsea's apparent willingness to strengthen a prospective title rival.
Matic had a clear desire to leave Chelsea after contract negotiations between him and the Blues failed to bear fruit, and Wright believes Arsenal should have tried to persuade the Serbia international to reject the lure of Manchester United and remain in the capital in order to follow in the footsteps of former Chelsea goalie Petr Cech who swapped west London for north London some years ago.
Wright also thinks Arsene Wenger should have pursued a deal for Van Dijk, who submitted a transfer request and urged Southampton to let him leave the club on Monday (7 August). The Holland international is attracting strong interest from Liverpool and Chelsea, but Southampton are still unwilling to part with their coveted captain.
Van Dijk has been training away from the rest of the Southampton squad during pre-season and is believed to have his heart set on a move to Liverpool, though Chelsea are hopeful they can convince him to move to the capital. But Wright says the Gunners should be rivalling their Premier League counterparts for the esteemed centre-half, who believes he has been "insulted" by the Saints.
We [Arsenal] haven't signed the players that people are constantly talking about that was going to lead Arsenal," Wright said on BBC Radio 5 Live.
"At some stage during the season they are going to need those players and that is where the test is going to come. Now we've got Leicester City, Stoke City, Liverpool to start (the season). The pre-season hasn't gone fantastically.
"I would have definitely tried to get Van Dijk, I'd be going in very strong. To see that Matic has left Chelsea and gone to Manchester United, could you try and persuade him to stay in London?
"He's in London, he's settled, can you get him to come to Arsenal? Because that is what Arsenal need, that player. I'm not sure how it's going to go once the season starts, has he (Wenger) got something else up his sleeve?"
Arsenal may be in need of a player like Matic, who signed a three-year deal with Manchester United, but Wenger's reported targets do not seem to be in the mould of the Serbia international. Deals for Thomas Lemar and Jean Michel-Seri have been mooted but are far from completion, with the latter's future dependent on how Nice fare in their Champions League play-off round against Napoli.