Bacary Sagna tells Arsene Wenger to get his facts right
Bacary Sagna has refuted Arsène Wenger’s suggestion his move to Manchester City broke transfer regulations by being agreed before he was permitted to speak to other clubs.
Sagna, 31, joined the champions on a free transfer this summer after rejecting the offer of a new contract from Arsenal, with whom he spent seven seasons – and Wenger last week said he suspected the deal was “agreed a long time ago”. Players are only permitted to speak to interested parties when in the final six months of their contract and Sagna insisted he had acted properly.
“I know exactly what happened, everyone knows,” said the France defender. “I am not a tricky person. I am very professional. I was at Arsenal for a number of a years. I have always been straight. I have always given the maximum. I don’t know why he [Wenger] said this.”
Sagna did confess, however, that his decision to leave the Emirates was taken at the start of last season and that winning the FA Cup in his final match did not affect his thinking.
“I knew I had to come, no matter what happened. I had already made my mind up,” he said. “I wanted to change. I wanted to boost my career. I’m 31 now and it was time to move. It’s not about the money. Can you find one player in Europe who stayed six years on the same contract? That’s what I did and I never asked for anything.”
Meanwhile, Wenger has claimed that it is senseless for the Premier League to be starting its season a week earlier than other major football nations and predicted that the schedule could contribute to a series of upsets over the next month.
Arsenal begin their season against Crystal Palace on Saturday evening without Mesut Özil, Per Mertesacker and Lukas Podolski because of the need to give players a four-week holiday after the World Cup.
City will be similarly depleted while they wait for their Argentine players, with Wenger mindful that the Bundesliga and La Liga begin next week while Serie A does not start for another fortnight.
“We are a bit short in our preparation because we had 11 players at the World Cup,” said Wenger. “If you want to give some holiday to the players your preparation becomes very short. I think we could have done with one week later for all the competitions.”
Asked if it made no sense, Wenger said: “No, especially because in Fifa rules you have to give four weeks’ holiday to the players. It’s a bit levelling. Until everyone gets going it could take some time for some clubs.”
Wenger’s biggest concern is at centre-back, where Mertesacker – who on Friday retired from international football – is still following his pre-season schedule while last season’s back-up, Thomas Vermaelen, has joined Barcelona.
Laurent Koscielny, his one senior centre-back, suffered an Achilles scare in the Community Shield and will only play on Saturday subject to a fitness test.
Arsenal then travel to Istanbul on Monday for Tuesday’s Champions League first-leg qualifier against Besiktas.
It all leaves Calum Chambers and Nacho Monreal – recognised full-backs – potentially playing a vital part in Arsenal’s early-season games. Wenger is planning to buy a centre-back and may also still add in the holding midfield role of new captain Mikel Arteta.