Failing academy to blame for Arsenal's problems, says Emmanuel Petit
By Jack WIlkinson
Last Updated: 19/03/16 12:47pm
Emmanuel Petit has urged Arsenal to scrap their academy policy which he argues is hindering his former club's progress.
The Gunners have seen their quest for silverware suffer a huge blow this week, following consecutive FA Cup and Champions League defeats to Watford and Barcelona.
A first Premier League title in 12 seasons is the only trophy available to Arsene Wenger's side, although they find themselves 11 points behind leaders Leicester with just nine games to play.
And Petit, who has also called for Wenger to step away from the dugout in favour of an advisory position at the Emirates, believes an over-reliance on youth is to blame for the north London club's failure to win titles consistently in recent years.
"Arsenal's academy policy is very good, up until a certain point - there is a limit," Petit told Sky Sports. "There are a lot of players coming from the academy who are good but they have failed to improve over the last three or four years.
"This has been a big disappointment for me. Players like Theo Walcott, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Jack Wilshere are constantly injured and they are not improving.
"They are good, but not that good, that is why they need something else in the dressing room."
Asked what Arsenal were lacking, Petit added: "If you want to exceed this limit [of the academy], you have to bring in experienced players - big names, big characters, players with winning mentality.
"They need to bring leaders into this team. They have quality, no doubt, they have big players but not enough. They need leaders, big characters and players that hate to be beaten and love to win - not only games but titles."
With Arsenal burdened by the costs of building the Emirates Stadium over the past decade, the club have arguably been forced to build their academy rather than pursuing big-money signings.
However, the acquisition of Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez in recent seasons, coupled with reports the club have £175m in cash reserves, may suggest a turn in the tide at Arsenal, and Petit wants them to continue spending.
"There are only two options for Arsenal," Petit added. "Either they keep on doing what they're doing, adding experienced players to the youth coming through, or they use the money they have.
"In the last few years we have seen Arsenal performing well on the pitch but not winning titles, with the exception two FA Cups.
"They fail at the final step every time, at this crucial time of the season. That means they need something to improve the closing stages of the season. That, for me, would be spending the money.
"Barcelona, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich are all spending money on top players to improve their team and results."
Catch the full interview with Emmanuel Petit live on Soccer Saturday, 12pm, Sky Sports 1 HD