Saturday 22 October 2016

Gunners hero Paul Merson 'flabbergasted' by their interest in Jamie Vardy

Tom Rooney

Published 08/06/2016 | 18:20

Paul Merson has said that Jamie Vardy is wholly unsuited to Arsenal’s possession-orientated style of play and that the England striker would be better served remaining at Leicester City.

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Over the past week, confirmation of Vardy’s move to the Emirates has been eagerly awaited, but a billowing white smoke is yet to materialise.

Initially, it was reported that Arsenal had met the striker’s £20m buyout clause but an official announcement was not forthcoming. Vardy was then said to have passed a medical and on the verge of putting pen to paper.

Last we heard the 29-year-old was deferring his decision until after the European Championships.

Indeed, the whole narrative has proven quite odd. It was disappointing to hear that the player Leicester had plucked from obscurity was jumping ship for one of the long-standing elite just weeks after the Foxes were improbably crowned champions.

His 24 league goals were pivotal to the realisation of Leicester’s fairy-tale season and there had even been word that Vardy's partner in crime, Riyad Mahrez, was also on Arsene Wenger's shopping list.

What’s more, from a tactical perspective, the move makes little sense. Arsenal endeavour to monopolise the ball, while Leicester want it as little as possible, opting instead for swift transitions and scything counter attacks- largely facilitated, of course, by Vardy’s searing pace, indefatigable endurance and elite finsihing.

Such dissonance is not lost on Gunners legend Merson, and he told TalkSPORTas much.

“I am absolutely flabbergasted with it. Arsenal don't get the ball forward quick enough for Jamie Vardy. No disrespect, but he plays at Leicester where everyone goes and has a go at them.

“Twenty of his goals must have been over the top, balls that he is running on to, beat the goalie and great finish. You play for Arsenal, you kick off and the other team sit 10 men behind the ball.

“Leicester suits Jamie Vardy, in my opinion. He is perfect for them. They play his way, they get the ball forward very quickly and he will keep on causing havoc. If he goes to Arsenal, I just don't see it.”

Sky Sports pundit Merson, who won a trove of silverware with Arsenal, including two league titles, said Vardy’s talents are unimpeachable but, essentially, believes it could prove a case of trying to fit square pegs into round holes.

He referenced England’s recent warm up win over Portugal to justify his opinion.

“That is no disrespect to him. I'm not saying he won't get goals, but I don't think he will get enough opportunities (at Arsenal). They take too long to get the ball forward.

“I'm not having a go at Vardy. For what he does, he is different class. But you watch him for England the other night (against Portugal) and if you have got 10 players behind the ball... I mean (Ricardo) Carvalho looked like (Franz) Beckenbauer.”

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