UNAI EMERY has been told by his Arsenal chiefs: “We must get back in the Champions League”.
The Gunners say they cannot afford to keep missing out on “tens of millions of pounds” and the kudos of Europe’s top competition.
And boss Emery could be handed funds to sign another striker in the new year to help achieve that top-four target in May.
Emery’s men are fifth in the Premier League and managing director Vinai Venkatesham said: “This is not where we want to be. We have to improve, step forward.
“The most pressing thing is to get back in the Champions League. That’s where this club needs to be as an absolute minimum.
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“Being in the Europa League has a material financial impact across the club. It’s tens of millions of pounds.
“The more years you spend out of the Champions League, the bigger the strain it puts on the business model.
“But we also need to be competing in the number one European competition because that’s where our supporters, players and all the staff want to be. We are trying to make our fans proud of their club.
“We do that most effectively by winning matches and trophies — and clearly the trophies we want more than anything else are the Premier League and the Champions League.
“But we need to be realistic. Last season we finished sixth and we’re having our second season in a row in the Europa League.
“We know there are at least six teams in the Premier League who have a minimum requirement of being in the Champions League.
“So we know it’s not going to be easy. But we need to start winning the biggest trophies and I absolutely believe we can do that.”
Emery arrived at the Emirates this summer following the departure of Arsene Wenger after 22 years.
Already he has built a 16-game unbeaten run with his side through to the last 32 of the Europa League and the Carabao Cup quarter-finals.
But his plans have been severely damaged by Danny Welbeck’s broken ankle and the club could now be forced to sign a new striker in the January transfer window.
Head of football Raul Sanllehi admitted: “Danny’s injury was something absolutely unplanned for and it alters our views about the transfer market.
“I’m not saying it’s an automatic green light to go to the market, but it has made us consider things.
“We are in November so it’s a good time to start analysing what options we have in the market. If there is a very good opportunity, we’re definitely going to consider it.”
Welbeck, 27, is out of contract in the summer and is unlikely to be offered a new deal by the club despite the injury suffered against Sporting Lisbon two weeks ago.