Jesus names player Arsenal can’t afford to lose this season as Arteta’s next target is revealed

Joe Williams
Arsenal striker Gabriel Jesus
Gabriel Jesus looks up at the crowd during a Premier League match.

Gabriel Jesus has hinted that Arsenal cannot afford to lose William Saliba for any length of time next season if they want to be successful.

The Gunners finished five points behind Manchester City in the Premier League title race last season after leading for the majority of the campaign.

A back injury to William Saliba, which ruled him out for the rest of the season, in a Europa League match against Sporting Lisbon in March was seen as a turning point in Arsenal’s campaign.

And Jesus – who signed from Manchester City last summer – agrees that Saliba was a big miss with his presence having the potential to alter the course of the title race again next season.

“When he plays, we concede few goals, when he doesn’t play, the number (goals conceded) increases,” Jesus said.

“When I got injured, Eddie replaced me very well. Then we signed Leo (Trossard). We kept the pace.

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“But when Saliba got injured, it was complicated. The other defenders are good, but we were playing in a certain way. Look at the stats we concede a lot less with him.”

But former Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher thinks it was post-World Cup that Arsenal let their defensive solidity dip and not just after Saliba was injured.

“After the World Cup, still with William Saliba in the team… [they played] 13 games and conceded 14,” Carragher told Sky Sports.

“Not the end of the world, but they went from the best in the league [before the World Cup] to 10th. That is a massive drop-off.

“The clean sheets dropped. The amount of times they conceded 2+ goals [after the World Cup with William Saliba in the team], 12th in the league.

“Five times in 13 games, even with William Saliba, they conceded 2+ goals. That tells you what after the World Cup, they were completely different defensively.

“Without William Saliba they drop even further… But this idea that they weren’t conceding goals or looking vulnerable with William Saliba at centre-back is a myth.”

Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta and technical director Edu have already been busy in the transfer market with Kai Havertz signing from Chelsea, while official confirmation of deals for West Ham’s Declan Rice and Ajax’s Jurrien Timber are imminent.

And Spanish publication Fichajes claims that Arsenal are now looking at strengthening their midfield further if Thomas Partey leaves the club this summer.

Brighton’s Moises Caicedo – who is also a top target for Chelsea – and Southampton’s Romeo Lavia are their two top targets to replace Partey and ‘the next few days will be decisive’ as Arsenal ‘maintain a waiting position in the transfer market’.