Paul Merson names the £20m star he thinks Arsenal must sign

Arsenal player Paul Merson celebrates during their 5-0 League Division One home win over Norwich City at Highbury on May 1,1989 in London, England.

Mikel Arteta could do with a new defender or two at the Emirates; could Arsenal raid Premier League rivals Bournemouth for Nathan Ake?

Nathan Ake of AFC Bournemouth celebrates after scoring his team's second goal during the Premier League match between AFC Bournemouth and Aston Villa at Vitality Stadium on February 01,...

Paul Merson believes that £20 million Bournemouth star Nathan Ake could be the man to solve Arsenal’s defensive worries, while speaking to Sky Sports' The Debate (10 February).

The Gunners have been much-improved at the back since Mikel Arteta was handed his first ever managerial role in the autumn, with the likes of David Luiz and Shkodran Mustafi producing the kind of disciplined, reliable performances that looked all-but impossible under Unai Emery.

But whether the likes of Luiz, Mustafi or Sokratis Papastathopoulos can be relied upon long-term remains to be seen.

As the German World Cup winner reminded everyone at Stamford Bridge recently, bad habits are always bubbling under the surface.


Merson believes that Arsenal need to splash to cash to reinforce their well-publicised Achilles heel with a defender who failed to make the grade at Chelsea the preferred option of a Gunners legend.

“They need a centre-half and a world-class holding midfielder,” Merson said. “I think Arsenal need to play with a back three. They’re not good enough as defenders to play as a four.

“Ake has pace and he’s played in England for a while, so if you brought him in for next season he’s not a player who will need time to get used to the league for six months.

“Arsenal need to hit the ground running [next season] and everybody needs to know their jobs in the team.”

Edward Nketiah of Arsenal is tackled by Nathan Ake of Bournemouth during the FA Cup Fourth Round match between AFC Bournemouth and Arsenal at Vitality Stadium on January 27, 2020 in...

Ake joined Bournemouth in a club-record £20 million deal three years ago and continues to go from strength to strength under Eddie Howe, even as the Cherries flirt with relegation.

The Dutch international has everything required to be a top-class centre-half; pace, power, excellent reading of the game, brilliant heading ability and an eye for goal too.

Even in Sunday’s 2-1 defeat to Sheffield United, Ake barely put a foot wrong, racking up ten clearances, winning five aerial duels and managing an 87 per cent pass completion rate during another performance which suggested that a return to the top level might not be far away.

Nathan Ake of AFC Bournemouth battles for possession with Chris Basham of Sheffield United  during the Premier League match between Sheffield United and AFC Bournemouth  at Bramall Lane on...

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