Former Arsenal star Perry Groves has slammed the current Gunners squad for their ‘lack of desire and hunger to win’ after their shock Europa League exit.
And he believes there are as many as NINE players the club must sell this summer to back Mikel Arteta’s rebuild at the Emirates Stadium.
Arsenal have failed to reach the latter stages of a European competition for the first time in over 20 years, having crashed out of the Europa League against Olympiakos on Thursday night.
Having won the away leg 1-0, the Gunners suffered a 2-1 home defeat after extra time to the Greeks, who progressed to the round-of-16 on away goals.
It’s the first time since 1999 the north London side will not be playing European football in March, following their exit at the first knockout stage.
And Groves was appalled by the team’s ‘unacceptable’ and ‘lethargic’ performance, and claimed a number of players proved they have NO FUTURE at Arsenal with their displays at the Emirates.
And he counts Mesut Ozil among that number, branding the German playmaker ‘Mr Cellophane’, after another night in which he went missing.
“I was working at the game last night and the whole thing just smelled of complete complacency,” the former winger ranted to talkSPORT host Jim White.
“Even after the first five minutes, I could tell that group of Arsenal players weren’t at it.
“There was lethargy on and off the ball, and when you’re in that frame of mind it’s very difficult to get yourself out of it, and you need some big personalities and leaders on the pitch to get the team by the scruff of the neck.
“The first half was unacceptable.
“Ozil was Mr Cellophane again – he was just drifting around.
“There was no movement up front at all from Aubameyang, Lacazette and Pepe; they were just standing in a straight line.
“The midfield wasn’t creative or closing down enough and at the back there was just a complete lack of concentration.
“It was an abject performance which was all due to complacency. It’s a disaster – it’s an avenue into the Champions League that’s been taken away.
“Longer term, Arteta is probably looking at his squad thinking, ‘I’ve got a bigger job than I thought I had’.
“He has a group of players, not all the players, that are suffering from a lack of desire and hunger. It’s impossible as a manager to put that hunger and desire in if it isn’t there.
“I was thinking maybe five or six players need to go, but now I think you’re looking at up to NINE players.
“At the moment, I think David Luiz, Shkodran Mustafi, Sokratis, Dani Ceballos – who will leave anyway as he’s on loan – Mesut Ozil, Granit Xhaka, Calum Chambers, Mohamed Elneny and Henrikh Mkhitaryan, and those last two are also already out on loan anyway.
“Arteta has to see that there’s no energy, no intensity. I’m not questioning their ability or talent, but it’s that real innate desire, that ‘over my dead body’, ‘this is going to hurt’ desire.”
Groves says Arsenal need an overhaul similar to when George Graham took over as manager in the late 1980s, which led to the club’s resurgence and a First Division title within three years of his appointment.
And he said his former boss did it by axing a number of his talented stars and replacing them with players from the lower leagues who brought a new-found hunger to the squad.
Groves explained: “It’s very, very similar to when George Graham went there in 1986 and he had a lot of very talented players that didn’t have the desire he required.
“So he got rid of them and he went into the lower leagues and brought in players like Alan Smith, Lee Dixon, Steve Bould, Nigel Winterburn, Kevin Richardson, and I came from Colchester.
“I remember sitting down to George Graham and he said, ‘there’s one thing you’ve got that I can’t put into you, apart from the ginger hair, and that’s desire. I can help players technically and tactically, but I can’t implement desire’.
“Ozil is a case in point; he is an unbelievably naturally gifted footballer, sometimes he does things that he makes look really easy, but you’ve got to have that will.
“And it’s not just about money – Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi earn more than him, but you wouldn’t question their desire.”
Watch a clip of Perry Groves on talkSPORT above