Wenger not willing to sell players
Published 28/04/2011 | 15:25
Arsene Wenger maintains it is useless for anyone to suggest Arsenal are ready to sell captain Cesc Fabregas this summer despite another season of disappointment for the World Cup winner.
The Gunners have seen hopes of salvaging their campaign with the Barclays Premier League title vanish after a last-minute defeat at Bolton left them nine points adrift of Manchester United and down into third place behind Chelsea.
With the inquests already under way into what would be a sixth season without silverware since Patrick Vieira lifted the FA Cup, reports have suggested Arsenal will now be forced to cash in on their skipper, who almost joined boyhood club Barcelona for £30million last summer.
Wenger, though, insists such speculation is again wide of the mark as he aims to keep a young squad together which he firmly believes will mature naturally into winners.
"We play our game against Manchester United on Sunday, and we are not on the transfer market," the Arsenal manager said.
"We do not want to sell our players - so all the players who have contracts will stay here unless we decide otherwise."
Wenger added: "We want to keep our best players. This is a subject that in fairness is not very creative.
"We have answered that in nearly 80% of our press conferences and at some stage it has to stop, because the past has shown that this question is useless."
While Wenger admits he will look to bring in some fresh, and most likely experienced, faces ahead of next season, the Arsenal manager remains confident his young squad are heading in the right direction.
"There are some things when the team has lost a little bit of confidence, is a bit more nervous, is in a more difficult patch, that you pay for, but you do not necessary pay for every year," he said.
"We had a blow on Sunday with a last-minute goal and it is vital for us to show that we have some mental qualities and finish with a very strong fighting spirit.
"Manchester United are now in a very strong position, but we have to fight until the end of the last second of the championship.
"The title is very unlikely for us now - let's not hide the truth - but the pride of our group is to first of all finish in the Champions League places.
"We have to look back and we have to look in front because even if there is a minimal chance, we have to fight for it."
What makes things more frustrating for Wenger and all Arsenal fans is just what could have been this season, the Gunners losing in the last minute of the Carling Cup final before then going out of Europe in Barcelona and the FA Cup at Old Trafford.
"If you look at all the numbers, it is the closest we have been," said Wenger.
"Just look at the last week - we could have had nine points quite easily against Liverpool, Tottenham and Bolton, in the end we finished with two.
"We feel more frustrated than ever because we are closer than ever to winning this league.
"Of the two trophies, the most important above all for me is the league - and this year we had the quality to win it."
Arsenal had been on a 16-game unbeaten run before losing at the Reebok, but a succession of draws already had looked to derail their realistic title hopes.
Wenger, though, expects a response against United on Sunday.
"It is important for our pride, for our mathematics in the table, and for what we delivered this season," he said.
"We delivered top quality games. Once the season is over and we look at the best games played this season, I am sure that Arsenal has played a big part in it.
"But it is important that we promised ourselves to fight until the last second of the season, no matter what happens. That is what we want to do now - and you never know."