Paul Merson orders Arsenal to make alternative transfer if Youri Tielemans move fails

Arsenal have been told the perfect alternative if they cannot get Youri Tielemans out of Leicester this summer.

The Gunners are chasing the Foxes midfielder, who is keen to join them, but his club have yet to give him the green light to go. And former Arsenal and England great Paul Merson claims they should move for Lazio’s Sergej Milinkovic-Savic instead if a deal cannot be done.

Merson first tipped his old club to target James Ward-Prowse but believes the Southampton midfielder is staying put this summer. And he reckons if they can’t sign Tielemans they should go for Serbia star Milinkovic-Savic, who has been linked with the Gunners by the Italian media.

Writing in his Daily Star column, Merson said: “Youri Tielemans would fit nicely at Arsenal if J ames Ward-Prowse takes the soft option and stays at Southampton. I start to worry when that happens when a player plays it safe like that. What are you going to do, realistically, at Southampton? West Ham wanted him and that would have been a good move for him too because they will finish above Saints.

“But I said before that Arsenal should have gone in for him. The thing is, if he’s staying at Southampton, maybe he doesn’t have the ambition? Tielemans would tick the box for Arsenal. He’d be a decent alternative. But Sergej Milinkovic-Savic is the player I would go for. If Arsenal get either of those two, they have had a major window. Now more than ever, Arsenal need a top-class midfielder to compete with the best. And I think Savic is a lovely player. A really top-drawer player. I personally think he is the best midfield player in Italy. Why there isn’t a queue of clubs lining up to buy him, I do not know. I think a lot of clubs are missing a trick.”

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Sergej Milinkovic-Savic was SS Lazio's second top scorer in Serie A during the 2021/22 season

Sergej Milinkovic-Savic was Lazio’s second top scorer in Serie A during the 2021/22 season with 11 goals
Giuseppe Maffia/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Merson can see why Arsenal have Tielemans on their radar – and admits he has one big advantage over Milinkovic-Savic. He said: “The thing with Tielemans is that he plays in the Premier League. He already has the know-how. He’s proven. And Arsenal don’t have time for bedding players in. They have to hit the ground running this season because the eyes will be on Mikel Arteta.

“They can’t afford to have the kind of start they had last season because I don’t see them being as patient this time around, not after spending all this money. Signing a top-class midfielder gives them every chance. You’d be saying it’s between Arsenal and Tottenham for fourth, and maybe even looking at overtaking Chelsea. I think signing that kind of player brings them into the equation one hundred per cent. They’ve done really well to get is Gabriel Jesus. I think he’s a great signing – and I don’t think Manchester City sell him to anyone. I think that has only happened because Arteta and Pep Guardiola are close. ”

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