Arsenal technical director Edu has defended the club’s recruitment strategy and transfer policy amid criticism that almost £150m worth of new players has barely improve the starting XI.
The Gunners brought in Nuno Tavares, Albert Sambi Lokonga, Ben White, Aaron Ramsdale and Takehiro Tomiyasu, as well as securing a permanent deal for Martin Odegaard.
Perhaps only midfielder Odegaard, who was at Arsenal last season on loan, and centre-back White are active improvements on the players the club already had in those positions.
But Edu insists there is a much bigger picture that must be looked at.
“We signed six players who are under 23, which means a lot in terms of our planning. Normally, people like to see just one window, so I have to say it is the bigger picture because we started planning this squad a year ago in terms of consolidating the team and to try to get a better foundation,” the former Arsenal midfielder told Sky Sports.
“If you remember, in that period we renewed Bukayo Saka and Gabriel Martinelli a year ago with the intention to get that kind of base in the team.
“In a one-year period, we signed 10 players and seven of the 10 are under 23. We renewed seven players in this period as well, just in the first team. Five of the seven are under 23 as well.
“We had 21 players exit over the year. All of those were terminated or we tried to sell, or we tried to loan with an obligation to buy as well. We tried to clear a bit of the squad and bring in some new faces. We had 21 outgoings and signed 10 players in one year.
“So, 21 changes, it is a lot. It’s more than a squad in one year. But this was the intention again when we are talking about the base and the foundation.”
Arsenal have lost all of their opening three Premier League games, signing off before the international break with a 5-0 thrashing by Manchester City. That makes this their worst start to a season in 67 years and they are bottom of the table, piling pressure on manager Mikel Arteta.
“I really understand [why fans want players who are ready now], but I’d also like them to understand the reason and the direction we are going as a club,” Edu added.
“Of course, it has hurt us to be [bottom of the Premier League]. We are hurt, I am hurt. I don’t want to see the club there, but I want to see the team playing together.”