Gazidis throws down gauntlet for Wenger

Posted by Sam Limbert

Ivan GazidisGettyImagesArsenal Chief Executive Ivan Gazidis (left) has said manager Arsene Wenger will have the funds to compete in the transfer market.

Ivan Gazidis' proclamation that Arsenal are now effectively able to match their peers in the transfer market puts a certain amount of pressure on manager Arsenal Wenger to make serious additions to the squad this summer, and potentially break the club's transfer record, which stands a £15 million for Andrey Arshavin.

Cynics scoffed at reports earlier this week that the Gunners were lining up an audacious bid to sign Wayne Rooney from Manchester United for around £25 million, with the wage policy followed by the north London club in recent years making the stories of a £200,000-a-week deal seem implausible.

- Gazidis: Arsenal can afford Rooney
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The response from Arsenal's CEO Gazidis was emphatic: "Of course we could do that, we could do more than that." His utterance also effectively eliminates any excuse from Wenger should the club not compete for trophies next season.

Arsenal have been financially restricted compared to other Premier League rivals for the last nine years, due to the stadium move and the lack of an individual billionaire owner to plunder the transfer market. However, the premise of the move from Highbury to the Emirates Stadium at Ashburton Grove was to eventually grant Arsenal greater financial power, without the debts that could affect other clubs in the future. Friday's quotes from Gazidis are one of the first definitive signs from inside the boardroom that Arsenal are ready to enter that stage.

If that is indeed the case, it makes last season's qualification for the Champions League all the more important. If Arsenal really are going to be able to throw some financial weight around, having the attraction of European club football's flagship competition is vital to lure the players that Gazidis has implied are now within Arsenal's financial reach.

The rumours persist about Rooney, and now Everton's Marouane Fellaini has been added to the mix. It's doubtful that those two players, or others of the same ilk, would consider joining the Gunners if the club were playing in the Europa League.

Whilst the run of form at the end of the season to achieve a top four place was excellent, Gazidis appeared to be more realistic about the achievement in his latest interview. He acknowledged that it was important to be in the Champions League, but kept referring back to the need, and ambition, to win trophies. There seems to be some realism in the club that 2012/13 was a case of achieving the bare minimum, having fought back from a dodgy situation during the season.

Now the club has the basis to be able to build an improved team for next season. Gazidis has talked the talk and now it is up to Wenger to walk the walk.

The Arsenal boss can't hide behind the financial constraints that have previously restricted transfer activities, and there is unlikely to be a damaging departure from the squad this summer - à la Cesc Fabregas or Robin van Persie.

Seemingly more so than any other summer in recent years, the pressure of expectation from the fans is building on the manager to make significant additions to the squad.

Whilst it is much better for the football club to have Wenger in sole control of who he brings into the squad, rather than having an owner or the board signing players for him, Gazidis' comments do place an expectation on the manager that money will be spent.

The Gunners have worked hard to get into the position to compete financially with other top clubs. The challenge is to turn these words into signings, and ultimately, improvement on the pitch, otherwise the sentiments around them will be extremely hollow.

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