Arsenal target Boateng would struggle with ‘relentless’ pace of Premier League football, says Merson


A Gunners legend has advised his old club to steer clear of a German defender approaching the latter stages of his career

Arsenal should be targeting players with Premier League experience rather than Bayern Munich’s Jerome Boateng, according to Paul Merson.

Goal has learned that Boateng has emerged as a potential target for the Gunners in the January transfer window, as Mikel Arteta looks to bolster his defensive ranks.

The Gunners are short on options at the back after losing Calum Chambers to a long-term injury, with Kieran Tierney also facing a two-month spell on the sidelines with a dislocated shoulder and Hector Bellerin struggling with a persistent hamstring issue.

Bayern are reportedly willing to sanction Boateng’s departure on loan this month, but Merson doesn’t think he would be able to cope with the demands of top-flight English football.

“I think Arsenal are getting a little bit carried away here,” the ex-Arsenal midfielder told Sky Sports. “He’s playing at Bayern Munich where they’re getting 80 per cent of the ball and they’ve probably got two [tough] games a season.

“This Arsenal team are not a 70-30 per cent possession team anymore, it’s not a team that are dictating games. They need defenders now, people who can defend.

“They should be looking at the lads at Brighton, start looking at those players, when the ball comes in they’re going to head it out, kick it out, they put it in the stands. They need defenders.

“I used to think four or five years ago if there was a real good defender at Wolves or Brighton or places like that I used to think, ‘I’m not sure about that, Arsenal don’t play on the edge of the box, they play on the halfway line’. Not anymore, Arsenal don’t play on the halfway line anymore.

“It’s very rare you see them that high, they play quite deep now. When you’re 31, 32, 33, I give you one assurance – you ain’t getting quicker and this league is relentless, it’s ruthless, and it’s not the Bundesliga.

“It’s not playing for Bayern Munich, it’s playing for Arsenal and you’ll be playing a lot more.”

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The Gunners have conceded 30 goals in their first 21 Premier League fixtures this season, slipping down to 10th in the standings as a result.

There have, however, been signs of improvement since Arteta’s arrival, with a credible clean sheet recorded in a 2-0 home win over Manchester United on New Year’s Day.

Arsenal also shut out Leeds to progress to the fourth round of the FA Cup at the start of the week, with a tough trip to Crystal Palace up next on Saturday.


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