Arsenal technical director Edu has urged supporters to be patient with ‘bright talent’ William Saliba and admits the club ‘need’ to bring in a top creative midfielder to unlock their misfiring attack after a dismal start to the season.
The Gunners have lost four of their last eight matches in all competitions and find themselves languishing down in 15th place in the Premier League table, just five points above the relegation zone, following their dismal 1-0 defeat at home to Burnley at the weekend.
Head coach Mikel Arteta is under immense pressure as the north London outfit prepare to host Southampton on Wednesday and the Spaniard will be desperate to hit back at his critics with a strong performance and a victory at the Emirates.
At the Arsenal Fans’ Forum on Tuesday evening, chief executive Vinai Venkatesham insisted the club’s hierarchy were still ‘100 per cent’ behind their manager before Edu answered questions from supporters in what was a wide-ranging virtual discussion amid the side’s struggles.
‘I try to be as open as possible,’ Edu – who was appointed technical director in July 2019 – began.
‘I like to hear from you. As a Brazilian, I’m very open. I’m not scared to say things. We’re are not comfortable in this situation we’re in.
‘Every single club has problems. The stories about a split between the players and Arteta are not true. Stories about players not believing and not trusting Mikel are not true.’
Outside of Arsenal’s miserable form, one of the biggest mysteries of the club’s season has been the failure of young centre-back Saliba to make an impact since returning from his loan spell at Saint-Etienne.
The 19-year-old joined the Gunners with a stellar reputation back home in France but is still yet to make a competitive appearance in Arteta’s first-team and could head out on loan again this winter.
‘Maybe he needs a little more time,’ Edu said.
‘He’s a bright talent. We need to talk with him and Mikel to plan for next year.’
Edu believes Arteta is crying out for a ‘player with creativity’ in the middle of the park this season, with Arsenal reportedly missing out on top target Houssem Aouar in the summer transfer window.
‘It’s quite clear what we need,’ the Brazilian added.
‘We need a player with creativity in the middle, we don’t have that in the squad right now.’
‘We made another significant investment, following on from significant investments over the last two summers, to get this club back to competing where we want to be,’ he said.
‘Behind the scenes, everybody is disappointed, but they’re also being quite measured. We working extremely hard.
‘Everyone is sticking together to turn it around. We absolutely do believe results will come.
‘We’re not ignoring what we’re seeing on the pitch.’