May 9, 2021

Arsenal must prioritise Soyuncu, not Partey – Ezeji

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The retired forward believes the FA Cup winners must make it a necessity to improve at the back

Former Nigeria and Enyimba striker Victor Ezeji has urged FA Cup winners Arsenal to prioritise signing a defender before Atletico Madrid Thomas Partey, and sees Leicester City‘s Caglar Soyuncu as the ideal man to improve the Gunners’ backline.

The Ghana international is regarded as one of the best in his position in Europe and has been constantly linked with a move to the Emirates Stadium with his buyout clause set at €50 million. There has been confirmation of talks between both parties but no deal has yet been struck.

Ezeji acknowledges the importance of having a player of Partey’s quality in the Arsenal team, but believes a defender needs to be top of the list to solve some of the club’s long-existing woes.

“The problem of Arsenal has been in defence,” the two-time Caf Champions League winner told Goal. “It’s very difficult for you to predict that Arsenal will not concede a goal because of the way their set-up has been.

“Going forward they can score goals with the likes of [Pierre-Emerick] Aubameyang, [Alexandre] Lacazette and [Nicolas] Pepe,” he added. “They can score as many goals as they wish to in any game but their problem has been defensive and I think if they can bring Partey there will stability in midfield and he will also shield the backline.

The Gunners conceded 48 goals in the Premier League last season with the defence exposed on many occasions, although Ezeji also believes that Partey would contribute to their overall defensive work.

“Partey is a good buy no doubt, but Arsenal must do something to their defensive line,” he added. “If I’m to suggest they should go for a defender because their defence is very porous at the moment, [then] going for a player like Soyuncu is not a bad idea but that is if Leicester City are ready to let him go.

“David Luiz is not that bad, but his mistakes are very costly so they need someone that can put him on his toes. Sometimes players relax and don’t really have that motivation, but once they see competition they know if they flop, somebody else will take over from them, so they will put in their best.

“He will complement Luiz,” the ex-forward added. “He has proven over time that he’s a very good defender. If Arsenal can go for him, he will definitely step up his game even more.”

A bad start to the season under Unai Emery meant the north Londoners were far off the top four and even though things improved under new boss and former player Mikel Arteta who lifted the FA Cup as a player with the Gunners, and repeated the feat as a coach on Saturday. 

There has been a lack of stability that saw them crash out of the Europa League on away goals to Olympiacos and finish outside the European places in the Premier League in eighth position, although their cup success over Chelsea ensures continental competition next term.