RIO FERDINAN has slammed Arsenal's decision to let Joe Willock leave the club, saying the Gunners will not be a threat in the Premier League next season.
Willock is heading back to St James' Park to rejoin Newcastle in a £22million deal following a successful loan spell last season.
And speaking on his YouTube channel, Ferdinand said: "I don't know how Arsenal have let Joe Willock go. The guy scores goals from midfield man. I really like him.
"I don't understand that. Newcastle have done unbelievable well to get him by the way, I think he's a really good talent."
The 21-year-old scored eight goals in 14 games in a loan spell with the Magpies in the second half of last season, and has been linked with a return ever since arriving back in North London.
He was initially tipped to join in another loan deal, but the clubs have now agreed a permanent transfer as the Gunners look to free up some funds to add to the £75million spent so far this summer on Ben White, Nuno Tavares and Albert Sambi Lokonga.
But Ferdinand took his criticism of the Gunners further, saying: "With Arsenal, I know they're building and Arteta is trying to build something and he's setting the foundations there, but they're in no man's land.
"They're not a threat to anybody. You don't consider them a real threat at all and it's not just the Arsenal that I played against with Patrick Vieira, Thierry Henry, Dennis Bergkamp, Martin Keown, Tony Adams, Sol Campbell, Ashley Cole.
"It's just a very different time now for Arsenal. It's sad to see because I really like Arsenal."
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Arteta is desperate to improve on last season's dismal eighth place finish, but Ferdinand doesn't believe the club is in any position to challenge at the top end of the table.
This season is the first time in 25 years the Gunners won't be playing in Europe and Ferdinand thinks the club is different to what it was when he was playing against them, and not in a good way.
James Maddison has been linked with a move to Arsenal as Arteta looks to bring European football back to the Emirates, but Brendan Rodgers has warned the Gunners they will have to pay upwards of £100million to secure his services.
Martin Odegaard is said to be the Gunners' top target as they seek a long-term replacement for Mesut Ozil in attacking midfield, but an injury to Toni Kroos means Real Madrid boss Carlo Ancelotti is open to keeping the 22-year-old Norwegian at the club.
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A £42m move could be on the cards though, according to journalist Lucas Navarette.
The sale of Joe Willock recoups some of the £75m spent already this summer and possibly finances further transfers, but Ferdinand has publicly voiced his concern surrounding the sale of Willock.
The Gunners get their 2021/22 Premier League campaign on Friday, August 13 as they travel to West London to take on Premier League new boys Brentford.
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