Patrick Vieira knows what it takes to taste success at Arsenal, but the club legend admits he doesn’t see the same qualities in the current side that he saw in his legendary teams of the early-2000s under Arsene Wenger.
Talking via a Zoom call, Vieira discussed the ownership bid by Spotify owner and tech entrepreneur Daniel Ek.
But the World Cup-winning midfielder said the culture inside the Emirates dressing room needs addressing if the Gunners are to return to the heady heights of his heyday at the club.
“It’s difficult to blame somebody because I don’t know the tools they are using to identify players and how they are recruiting at the moment,” he said, via Sportsmail.
“But something changed obviously from the period that Arsene was there.
“Because Arsene bought players really well and was selling them really well, that was really good business for the club. And that is something that has to improve and be done better if Daniel managed to get the club.
“It’s about identifying the right players and the players who have this kind of passion, the DNA of the club.”
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Vieira explained that the drive and determination of the world-class players in the Arsenal dressing room during his time at the club helped push him to greater heights as a player, and in turn pushed the team as a collective to huge achievements, including their undefeated season as they captured the 2003/04 Premier League title.
“When I arrived at Arsenal, looking at the players every day in training and the way they are competing in the game, that made me understand the importance of the fighting spirit,” he recalled.
“And through the years I would say I think Arsenal lost a bit of the fire, passion, determination and competitiveness, and that is quite difficult to see and accept from outside.”
Vieira didn’t lay the blame solely on the current crop of players, coaches and executives at the club, however. Instead, he highlighted a general decline at the club since Wenger departed the club in May 2018.
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“What’s going wrong at Arsenal is not just this year, it’s the last couple of years,” he said.
“When you look at Arsenal in the Arsene Wenger era, you always had this kind of figure, a strong personality, who could represent the club.
“Through the years, Arsenal has lost a little bit of identity, not just on the field but off the field as well.
“When I talk about identity on the field, in my time at Arsenal you had players like Tony Adams, Martin Keown, Nigel Winterburn, Lee Dixon, who had been at the club for years.
“When you got there, those players made you understand the club’s DNA, what Arsenal means. Through the years, Arsenal has lost this kind of identity.
“People now realise that in losing Arsene, they lost more than a manager or coach. Arsene had a massive impact on Arsenal in every department.
“Since he left maybe there wasn’t the right people to fill all the positions that Arsene was doing.
“They brought a scouting guy (Sven Mislintat) from Germany who stayed a little bit. They brought this kind of CEO or sporting director (Raul Sanllehi) from Spain who didn’t stay very long.
“Losing Arsene and this kind of person coming into the club did not give the club the stability it needed to build a new era, a new foundation.
“It’s like building a house. You want to build a house on solid foundations.
“That is the biggest problem in the last couple of years at Arsenal.”