ESPN FC: Arsenal's transfer angst
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has insisted he started his transfer business early enough to have completed his summer spending by now, but says “bad luck” has been a big factor in his failure to land any star names.
• Cross: Time for change
Luis Suarez, Gonzalo Higuain and Wayne Rooney are just some of the high-profile players to have been linked with the Gunners in recent months, but Wenger's inability to sign any of them has seen him face an increasingly vitriolic wave of criticism from the club’s supporters.
The Frenchman, however, has now sought to clarify his position ahead of the final week of the transfer window, assuring Arsenal fans that he will sign the players he needs before the September 2 deadline -- after his side all but assured their place in the Champions League group stages with a convincing win against Fenerbahce on Wednesday night.
“You would be surprised how early we acted [to get players in],” Wenger said. “In our job sometimes, you can spend a lot of time, you don’t go on holiday, work on things, and it doesn’t come off.
“This is part of the job. A question of patience, of continuing to be completely focused and sometimes nothing happens in five or six weeks. Then sometimes in 24 hours you can do two or three good deals, it’s not predictable.
“I am confident we will make signings because the desire of the players to join us is clear. Also the fact that we have some funds available, even if not as much as everyone writes. We have the funds to do something.
“The win in Fenerbahce helps. Everybody says to us, are we happy with Champions League football? Yes we are, of course but we want more. But let me tell you the first question a player asks when they sign; he asks: ‘do you play Champions League football?’ This is how it is decided today. It is the first requirement of top, top-level players.”
Wenger confirmed that former Arsenal midfielder Mathieu Flamini is training with his squad and did not rule out signing the Frenchman over the next week, as he admitted to his frustrations that he is still trying to sign players with the season well underway.
“Ideally, we would rather have the squad in place at the start of the season,” he said. “I am a big fan of cancelling the window at the start of the season. One, the season has started, you should be able to focus on the quality of your play and to have everybody with the same players for the whole season. Makes sense.
“Maybe it was bad luck [that transfers didn’t happen]. We work very hard on transfers. It didn’t come off as quickly and as well as we would have wanted. In football, you have to deal with every situation and be patient. So as long as the transfer window is open, until the last minute, anything can happen on any front.
“I am very, very happy with the squad we have, the quality of the players. Numbers wise we are a bit short to cope for all the targets a club like us have. I would be worried we are not strong enough [if we signed nobody]. We will not go into the new season with only the number of players we have.”
Wenger would not be drawn on reports that he has made a move to sign Real Madrid duo Karim Benzema and Angel Di Maria, but he reiterated his stance that he is keen to continue to promote the development of younger players within his starting line-up.
“You can buy world-class players, but it cannot be the basis of any club just to buy only world-class players. You have to get players who can add something to what you have done with your own players,” he said.
“Look at our midfield Wednesday night [against Fenerbahce]: [Jack] Wilshere, [Aaron] Ramsey, [Theo] Walcott, [Tomas] Rosicky, [Santi] Cazorla. Out of the five, three made their debut and was educated here. Two we have bought. That is the right mixture.”