Arsenal legend suggests signing two stars to make club ‘the real deal’

Former Arsenal forward Charlie Nicholas has claimed the Gunners are close to being ‘the real deal’ and believes they are just a couple of quality signings away from being an elite side in the Premier League once more.

Nicholas told Sky Sports his former club can close the gap on the likes of Chelsea and Manchester City next season by signing another central defender and a high-quality holding midfielder.

“I still think they’re two players away from being the real deal but I think Wenger is getting close to identifying who those players are,” Nicholas said.

“It’s the defence and the protection of the defence that need attention, he recognises that now.”

Nicholas was quick to heap praise on Francis Coquelin, who has impressed this season, but highlights depth is key and that Southampton’s Morgan Schneiderlin is the type of player who could be the right move.

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“Coquelin has done really well but I would like another holding midfield player to come in, perhaps a Schneiderlin type of player.”

Nicholas sees Arsene Wenger’s signing of defender Gabriel as a long-term replacement for Per Mertesacker but he reiterates the point the club needs another centre-back.

“Ideally, if the situation arose, I’d like to go and get Raphael Varane from Real Madrid, that’s who I’d really love Arsenal to get.”

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But Nicholas realises Varane would be a difficult target to land and admits there are plenty of other defenders who can have the same impact Gabriel has made for a more reasonable fee.

“Look at what Gabriel has done since he’s come into the side, he’s looked solid and the team’s record reflects that – and he only cost £11m I think.

“There’s plenty of Gabriel types out there for reasonable fees.”

Arsenal take on Liverpool this weekend and can almost shut the door on the Merseyside clubs’ hope of making the top four with a win in what is a pivotal game.

Would Raphael Varane and Morgan Schneiderlin make Arsenal the real deal?