Arsène Wenger has indicated that Arsenal supporters have inflated expectations in this month’s transfer window, arguing: "They want to see Lionel Messi."
Explaining his reluctance to sign marquee names, despite a transfer budget at the Emirates Stadium estimated at more than £40 million, Wenger fended off suggestions that he was averse to spending the club’s money.
“It’s very difficult, because the level of expectation is very high. People want to come in, they want to see Lionel Messi,” the Arsenal manager said. “They don’t want to see a promising guy. First of all, the name gives hope. When a guy has no name people are already sceptical. So it’s much more difficult for us.”
Wenger was also sanguine about the decision by rumoured Arsenal target Demba Ba to move to Chelsea, claiming that he regarded the Senegalese as too similar a striker to Olivier Giroud. “I like Ba personally, but he is a similar type to Giroud, who we just bought. It was one or the other.”
A more likely focus for Arsenal is Rennes midfielder Yann M’Vila, whom Wenger has long admired and who last night admitted his determination to leave for the right club. “If the club receive a good offer and I like the destination then I will go, there is no doubt about that,” the 22 year-old said.
Throughout his 16 years at Arsenal, Wenger has enjoyed great success in attracting talent from France – Robert Pires and Nicolas Anelka, to name but two – and M’Vila would be the latest in a catalogue of players enticed to join from Ligue 1. But he acknowledged that the focus of the club’s scouting system was switching more towards Germany.
“The country where we were really competitive was France, but the French produce fewer players at the top level than they did 10 years ago. The emerging countries now look to be Germany and Spain, they have taken over. When you look at the results of France against Germany at Under-16, Under-17 level, it shows that the trend in coming years will be more in favour of the Germans.”
Asked if this signified an interest in Lewis Holtby, the Schalke midfielder also linked to Tottenham this week, Wenger replied: “We have looked at him, yes. We have played against him.”
On the continued talks to extend Theo Walcott’s contract, Wenger confirmed he did not believe that a deal would hinge upon a simple question of money. The 23 year-old is seeking terms of around £100,000 a week, plus an assurance that he can be deployed more in his preferred central striker’s role.
“Our desire is there to do it as quickly as possible – we are ready to do it,” Wenger said. “Of course I don’t want to speak much more about the situation, because it can be misinterpreted. I don’t think he is only interested by money. I don’t believe that.”
Oliver Brown, Telegraph.co.uk