What do Arsenal fans think? Arsene Wenger hints he might not make any more signings
Arsene Wenger has claimed that Arsenal already have sufficient squad quality to potentially regain the Premier League title and strongly suggested that performances in pre-season will now decide whether he makes any more signings.
Petr Cech is the only senior addition so far this summer and, although Wenger did have a summer transfer budget of around £50 million, his first priority is to rediscover what he calls the “cohesion” that Arsenal’s existing players established in finishing last season so strongly.
The areas that he will be assessing most closely in the coming weeks, starting on Wednesday against a Singapore Select XI in the Barclays Asia Trophy, are in central defence and central midfield.
Wenger was keen to buy Southampton’s Morgan Schneiderlin in January but the form of Francis Coquelin and Santi Cazorla, as well as the returns from injury of Jack Wilshere, Aaron Ramsey and Mikel Arteta, prompted a change of priorities.
“I don’t close the door if we find any player who can strengthen the squad,” said Wenger. “We have already strengthened the squad, but I believe part of the success of the squad is also the level of cohesion. We have a good level of cohesion. I believe we have the quality, and it’s now about how much we can be stronger together.
“We felt at the end of last season that we had moved forward, but it is still not enough. In this pre-season we have to move forward again. We have to move forward together, which for me it is more important than dreaming about finding a miraculous player who wins you everything.
“It’s important we find our combination and cohesion very quickly. We have to use it as a springboard to improve, and our pre-season games can help us strengthen that feeling. It is an opportunity to give an opportunity to people on the fringe of the team. It can influence my decisions until the transfer market is over.”
Departures are currently the main focus. Lukas Podolski has joined Galatasaray while Joel Campbell and Serge Gnabry are now expected to join Carl Jenkinson and Yaya Sanogo in going out on loan. Jenkinson and Sanogo are respectively poised for West Ham United and Ajax.
Wenger confirmed that Alexis Sanchez would miss the first Premier League match of the season against West Ham United following the Copa America but the Chile striker could be available again for the match against Crystal Palace on August 16.
The Arsenal manager also expects Danny Welbeck to return for the Emirates Cup later this month and to develop this season in his preferred position as a centre forward.
“It’s bone bruising, but took much longer to settle than we expected,” said Wenger. “I expect him to develop as a central striker and a wide player. He played mostly wide last season, but if he adds goals as well he can be very effective as a central striker.”
Wenger also revealed that the main barrier to the Cech deal had not been Chelsea but his own assessment of whether he needed to bring in another goalkeeper after being satisfied by the performances of David Ospina and Wojciech Szczesny.
“It’s true not many players leave Chelsea for Arsenal, but the deal itself was not too difficult,” said Wenger. “The decision was difficult because I felt our two goalkeepers did very well last season but, on the other hand, we could add experience and strengthen the belief of our squad. And we can develop experience in our squad and help to develop our other goalkeepers who are still young.
“If you go back to the numbers we have no obvious goalkeeping problem. In the last 19 games we conceded 13 goals. We want to maintain that, to stabilise and, if possible, improve.”
There have been no talks as yet about also bringing Cech's long-time coach, Christophe Lollichon, from Chelsea to Arsenal. Per Mertesacker, the Arsenal vice-captain, said that Cech’s influence was already impacting on the rest of the squad.
“From day one you felt Cech’s presence,” said Mertesacker. “He is a player who has won many titles and is a champion. He communicates well on and off the pitch. He speaks several languages. I think he can add that extra something we may miss at the moment.
"We are very happy with him, and I think he has a good feeling as well about joining us and contributing to our team. We had already a good structure but with him we feel we are stronger.
“The relationship between the back-four and the goalkeeper is very important. Communication is vital in a lot of situations, and playing with someone with a lot of presence gives you confidence. There’s even more belief now and we feel very confident at the back. There are many doubters out there, but we feel a lot stronger with Petr Cech.”