Football News

Unai Emery hoping to see Arsenal sign a player “like Van Dijk” this summer

By Harry Edwards

Published: 14:06, 6 April 2019

Arsenal manager Unai Emery is hoping the Gunners can make a transformative signing this summer to shape their future.

Taking over from Arsene Wenger last summer, Emery brought in five new players including Lucas Torreira and Bernd Leno, but was not backed financially in the January window with only Denis Suarez arriving on loan.

Will Arsenal spend big this summer? Five key things to know…

  1. In Unai Emery’s first season at Arsenal, the club have brought in six new players.
  2. The Gunners have improved on last season already, with Emery’s side currently in control of the top four race.
  3. But Emery has his sights on further success in the future, similar to what he experienced with Sevilla and Paris Saint-Germain.
  4. And to do this, Emery is hoping Arsenal can make a big-money signing to shape their future, like Liverpool did with Virgil van Dijk last season.
  5. Van Dijk has been integral to Liverpool’s title challenge this season, helping keep 17 clean sheets.

After a disastrous start losing their opening two Premier League games, as well as rough patches throughout the season, Arsenal are in control of the race for a Champions League place.

The Gunners are currently one point behind third-placed Tottenham Hotspur but have a game in hands over their London rivals.

This is an improvement on Wenger’s final season. And although the club made it clear they lacked the finances to spend much in the most recent transfer window, Emery is hoping Arsenal can sign a team-changing player – much like Liverpool did with Virgil van Dijk last season – this summer.

“I think we can improve first, by spending money to achieve players,” he told reporters.

“In the past the club have done great work in watching players, finding and signing young players and developing our players in the academy.

“I have big respect for our work, for our players in the academy. I want to develop the players here – giving them progress to achieve something at a big club like we are.

“We can also achieve [buy] some players who are in other teams, who can come here and give us this performance – like Van Dijk with Liverpool.”

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Van Dijk’s arrival at Liverpool has coincided with their rise to the top of English football, with Jurgen Klopp’s side currently leading the Premier League – albeit having played a game more than Manchester City.

And despite hoping for a Van Dijk-esque signing, Emery also remained insistent the club must continue to trust in its academy find a balance between buying big names and promoting from within.

He added: “We can share both situations. Developing players with us and [finding] some players who we can spend money on to help us.

“I think we are in the right way with the club, with the owner, with Raul Sanllehi [head of football] to find that. To fight against the teams with more money the us, maybe Manchester City, maybe Real Madrid.

“Arsenal is great. Our objective is to be with the best teams in the world.”

Emery aiming for Arsenal glory

With Tottenham not in action this weekend, Arsenal have a chance to move into third and two points clear of their rivals with just six games remaining when they face Everton on Sunday.

The Gunners also have a potential route to next season’s Champions League through the Europa League, with Emery’s men into the quarter-finals where they will take on Napoli.

And while Arsenal had the aim of simply returning to the Champions League in Emery’s first season, the Spaniard has admitted he has bigger goals for the club.

“When I am training Arsenal I know we have targets, collectively and individually,” Emery added.

“I earned titles in Paris and Sevilla and I think here we need the same objective. To win titles, in the present and the future.

“To win the Premier League is difficult, but our progress is to be consistent and to create a big team to have the possibility to achieve that.

“I am here for that. For titles, to be with the best teams in the world in the Champions League, have the best players in the world.

“This is what I have done in the past and I want to do the same in the future.”