Former Arsenal defender Lauren believes winning the Europa League is a must for his old club this season, if they want to attract top players in the summer transfer window.
The Gunners take on Villarreal in the first-leg of the semi-final on Thursday evening, knowing that winning the competition will secure them a place in next season’s Champions League.
It has been a poor season domestically for Mikel Arteta and his side, with the club currently in mid-table in the Premier League standings.
They have fallen away from the likes of Manchester City, Chelsea and Liverpool, according to Lauren – but the Cameroonian has a theory on how they can once again compete with the division’s top teams.
Speaking to the Mirror, the ex-Gunners right-back said: “The table says that Arsenal are a long way behind.
“But I think the team in some periods, they play brilliant games, play very good football and have some outstanding young players.
“But those two players and the other young players need other big players to fulfil their potential and they need the team to progress.
“If they want to catch up, they have to make a real effort to build in the long term with more top players. You can’t compete with Manchester City, Chelsea, if you want to win the league you have to fight with the same weapons.
“You can’t win the league against City when they have De Bruyne, Sterling, Gabriel Jesus, Gundogan, they’ve got so many top players in their squad. You have to build and try to catch them.
“You need to play the Champions League every single year, that will give you the tools and ability to attract those players in order to win the league. Honestly, we are one step behind Manchester City, Chelsea or even Liverpool. Unless you have the tools, then you can’t win the league.”
Arsenal will have to get past their old manager Unai Emery in Thursday night’s meeting with Villarreal and Lauren has issued his former club with a warning.
“Emery is a very good coach, did brilliantly with Sevilla so I was surprised it didn’t work,” he said.
“He is so focused on detail, maybe some players would get fed-up watching so many videos and my impression from the outside is that players don’t always want that.
“You also need communication with players and the language is so important. You need one-to-one talks with players and that is an issue. It has to be. But there are normally many issues rather than just one.
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“You have the perfect example with Gary Neville. He has all my respect – fantastic player, great competitor and talks so well – but he couldn’t communicate with players at Valencia and it didn’t work.
“Villarreal are so well organised. Dani Parejo in the middle of the park, Gerard Moreno is very good – you can play him as a No9, wide – and the two centre backs, Pau Torres and Raul Albiol, are very strong.
“But if Arsenal are at their best and the players are fit, I think they will win,” Lauren concluded.