Arsenal urged to raid Chelsea for Romelu Lukaku as Gabriel Jesus issue laid bare

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta reviews the Nottingham Forest game

Arsenal icon Paul Merson has urged the Gunners to pursue a summer move for out-of-favour Chelsea striker Romelu Lukaku in order to ease the burden on Gabriel Jesus at the top of the pitch next season. Arsenal missed out on winning their first Premier League title in almost 20 years over the weekend, with their defeat at Nottingham Forest handing the honours to Manchester City for a third straight year.

Merson remains a huge admirer of Jesus, who has enjoyed an impressive debut campaign with Arsenal since joining from City last summer, but has urged the north Londoners to chase a move for Lukaku in order to boost their title credentials at the next time of asking. The Belgian forward has struggled to make the grade at Chelsea over the last two seasons but has scored 13 goals in all competitions while on loan at Inter Milan, the club he played for before rejoining the Blues for close to a nine-figure transfer fee in the summer of 2021.

“‘Arsenal need a centre-forward,” Merson told GiveMeSport. “They need someone who is going to get them 25 goals a season. I’m not having a go at Gabriel Jesus, he’s a very good player and he’s been a brilliant signing, but he’s not going to get you the goals you need on his own.

“The other day against Brighton, I don’t remember him ever looking like scoring. Jesus can play anywhere, so if you buy a striker he could still get in the team. He could play with a striker. Arsenal’s squad is bare, it wasn’t strong enough to win the league. They need to buy players. Top quality players.

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“Manchester City are head and shoulders above everybody so you need to get stronger just to compete. Ivan Toney would have suited Arsenal, but that won’t happen now because of his ban. Romelu Lukaku might be available. The 30-year-old is an out-and-out centre-forward. He will stay up front and back into players, that might help Arsenal.”

It remains to be seen whether Lukaku will emerge as a surprise attacking target for Arsenal between now and the start of the new campaign, with the Gunners likely to be prioritising improvements in other areas of the pitch as they prepare to renew their Premier League title ambitions at the very next opportunity. The player himself, meanwhile, would also not be overly keen on moving to the Emirates Stadium if his previous comments on the topic are anything to go by.

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Lukaku was quizzed on what he would say to Arsenal fans clamouring for him to join Mikel Arteta’s squad following his goal for Chelsea against them on the opening day of the 2021/22 campaign, with the forward simply replying: “Nothing. No thanks.”

It seems as though a permanent return to Inter could be among the most likely options on the table for Lukaku this summer if he is deemed surplus to requirements by incoming Chelsea manager Mauricio Pochettino, with the 30-year-old having made no secret of his love for the Nerazzurri since joining the Blues two years ago. However, only time will tell whether a shock move to Arsenal will end up on the cards for Lukaku if Arteta chooses to act on Merson’s advice by striking a deal to secure his signature.

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