Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta has stood by the club’s transfer policy after Gunners’ legend Tony Adams questioned the decision to sign Real Madrid midfielder Martin Odegaard on loan.
Adams claimed that by recruiting the Norwegian talent in for the remainder of the season, Arteta is actually blocking a clear path to the Arsenal first-team for other young, homegrown talents such as Emile Smith Rowe.
Arsenal’s 2020/21 campaign has very much been a tale of two halves, with their form before the festive period leaving many fans pondering whether Arteta was up to the job.
However, after a resounding 3-1 win at home to Chelsea on Boxing Day, the Gunners have performed at a level far closer to what many expect from the FA Cup holders since the turn of the year.
One of the biggest reasons behind the recent resurgence has been the impact of Smith Rowe. First deployed in the victory over Chelsea, the 20-year-old affectionately dubbed the ‘Croydon De Bruyne’ by fans has sparked life into what was a struggling Arsenal team.
Ultimately, this did not stop Arteta from calling in reinforcements – signing Odegaard on loan for the rest of the season.
But club icon Adams believes this could hinder the prospects of Smith Rowe as well many other young guns.
“The Premier League is a bit special with respect that Odegaard has come into this league, some people respond to it and can do it, some people can’t,” he said.
Adams went on to tell StadiumAstro: “I think the jury’s out. I think he’s a super player, very talented. But is the Premier League for him? Not too sure about that.”
However, the Arsenal manager has already played down fears of reduced game time for the likes of Smith Rowe in the wake of Odegaard’s arrival, and the pair have featured in the same side in recent weeks.
Meanwhile, Arteta explained the reasoning behind the Odegaard deal to Astro SuperSport, where he claimed the “right principles” have to be adhered to when signing new players.
“Well first of all I think you have to set some very clear principles that you want to achieve and the processes that are going to be in place to try to minimise the risk every time we get a player,” he said.
“Because it’s like a bet. There are a lot of things that we cannot control and a lot of things that we don’t know how they are going to act.
“But if we have the right processes, and we have the right principles to apply for every single player that walks in through our door to our club, then I think we are in a much better place to make a lot of good decisions.”
The Spaniard went on to cite the importance of youth in his squad, stating: “When I said to you about the squad balance, it is something that is related to recruitment.
“First of all, the squad has to look in good balance, in good shape, in good health and then you can talk about taking the squad into a different level, improving the recruitment, improving the quality of the squad in the individual and specific positions that we want.
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“But as well, part of that recruitment – and it’s huge at this club – is our youth.
“And I am so proud as well with the work that is being done throughout the club, all the coaches at all the stages, to have the quality and the talent that we have at the club.
“We have to create a space within our squad to give the opportunity to start to fit our first team as well with young players. And that is the key for our future.”