A touted double Arsenal move for Youri Tielemans and Gabriel Jesus could unravel after a pundit fired a dire warning about the coming years in north London.
The Gunners are once again facing up to the prospect of missing out on Champions League football. Arsenal have not graced that competition since the 2016-17 season. Just a few short weeks ago, it looked like their drought would finally come to an end.
But successive defeats to Tottenham and Newcastle have handed control of fourth spot to Spurs.
Barring a miraculous turnaround on final day, the riches and prestige that come with Champions League qualification will go to Antonio Conte’s side.
What effect that will have on Arsenal’s summer transfer plans is open to debate.
Indeed, the Sun. recently claimed the lack of UCL football could torpedo their chances of signing Man City striker, Gabriel Jesus.
The Brazilian is being lined up to spearhead Mikel Arteta’s attack next season. Transfer guru Fabrizio Romano recently confirmed talks had taken place between Jesus’ agent and Arsenal.
Leicester’s Youri Tielemans is another target, this time with the idea of upgrading the Gunners’ engine room.
In contrast to the Sun’s report, the Telegraph claimed Arsenal remain confident of landing their desired targets. Though according to prominent pundit Gabriel Agbonlahor, Edu’s reported confidence is misplaced.
Gabriel Jesus transfer a no-go – Agbonlahor
When speaking to online outlet Football InsiderAgbonlahor insisted Jesus “will not touch Arsenal with a barge pole” without Champions League football on offer.
Furthermore, the ex-Premier League winger explained why Arsenal’s UCL drought may extend another “five or six years”.
“It’s going to be a tough ask now for Arsenal,” said Agbonlahor.
“I can not see Arsenal playing Champions League football for five or six years now. They’ll be playing Thursday then Sunday and that will take it out of that squad of players.
“They’re not going to attract players either. Gabriel Jesus won’t touch Arsenal with a barge pole now, Tielemans will be umming and ahhing too. It’s going to cost them in the transfer market.
“Newcastle are going to buy players, Spurs are going to attract players with the Champions League, Leicester are going to improve on their poor season because they will not be in Europe and Man United are going to improve.
“It’s going to be very difficult for Arsenal and I’m sure all their fans will agree.”
Will Europa really kill Arsenal’s season?
While Agbonlahor may have a point about Arsenal’s close rivals improving next year, that may in fact work to Arsenal’s longer-term benefit.
A key factor in Arsenal’s improvement this season has undoubtedly been their lack of European football.
Should those around them improve and relegate the Gunners to an eighth-placed finish next year for example, they would have that luxury once again in a future campaign.
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Regardless, West Ham reached the penultimate stage of the Europa League this season. Yet they remained in contention for the top four well into April. Had they exited the competition sooner, their late season dip in the Premier League may not have materialized.
A run in the Europa League has proven to be a hinderance to a side’s league form in the past. However, to say it would make Arsenal’s quest to finish fourth next season impossible would be foolish.