Hartson calls on Arsenal to break the bank for Rooney

The Gunners are weighing up the possibility of a move for the unsettled Manchester United striker as Arsene Wenger steps up his hunt for attacking reinforcements

By Tom Marshall-BaileyFormer Arsenal striker John Hartson believes the Gunners must show intent in the transfer market this summer and has called on Arsene Wenger to “break the bank” in a bid to sign Wayne Rooney.

Goal exclusively revealed Rooney is open to a move to the north London outfit this summer, and Arsenal are keeping abreast of the ongoing uncertainty surrounding the 27-year-old’s future at Manchester United.

Rooney is understood to be against the idea of working with new Old Trafford chief David Moyes and Hartson, who was speaking at the launch of the 2013-2014 Barclays Premier League fixtures, believes Arsenal should capitalise on the pair’s frosty relationship by lodging a bid for the England star.

“I think Rooney would be a fantastic signing,” the Welshman told Goal. “He’s actually coming into his prime.

“He’s only about 27, 28 and you don’t play your best football until this stage of your career so, in terms of his experience and everything he’s done at Manchester United, I think he would be a brilliant signing and Arsenal fans would welcome him into the side.”

The Gunners, who are also chasing Real Madrid frontman Gonzalo Higuain, have been crying out for an established forward ever since Robin Van Persie’s departure to United in the summer of 2012.

Olivier Giroud performed admirably in his first season in English football but has not filled the void, and Hartson believes Rooney would bring so much more than just goals to the Arsenal frontline.

He added: “I think you will see Rooney take up a deeper role because of his experience and when he drops into that little hole behind the striker, he gives the centre-backs a real problem because he needs to be marked, and you couldn’t let a player like him come in on the half-turn and face your back four because he will just cause riots in there.

“He can pick people out, he can slide balls through, break the centre-backs by getting between the lines and by playing balls over the top.

“He has unbelievable individual ability and if they can find the right position for him, he’d be brilliant. Ryan Giggs and Roy Keane both dropped into deeper roles as they got older and wiser.

“Arsenal fans are used to players like Rooney. They’ve had Dennis Bergkamp, Liam Brady, Anders Limpar, they’ve had great ball players over the years and Rooney would be a magic signing, I’m a big fan of his.

“So, for me, I would just break the bank and go and get Rooney if United will let him go.”

With the likes of Rooney, Higuain, Marouane Fellaini et al being linked to the club, Arsenal’s change of approach on the transfer front has suddenly seen the club being touted in some quarters as potential title challengers rather than mere Champions League chasers.

Hartson does not believe the calibre of players arriving at the Emirates this summer is surprising but admits the club do need to secure silverware sooner rather than later.

“Well that doesn’t surprise me because Arsenal are a fantastic club, a huge club,” he added.

“The only thing that is letting them down right now is the fact they haven’t won a major trophy for six or seven seasons which is disappointing.

“They’ve come close, they’ve hit the post if you like, they’ve lost in cup finals and when you talk about Arsenal, you’re so used to talking about them winning things but they’ve not won anything.

“They’ve qualified for the Champions League, which is a great achievement for many years now on the spin so Wenger deserves huge credit for that but they’re still a massive club and, in my opinion, they will have no problem attracting world-class players.”

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John Hartson was speaking at the launch of the 2013-14 Barclays Premier League fixtures. To hear Phil Neville, Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, Ray Parlour and John Hartson preview the new fixtures, download the exclusive podcast by clicking here.

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