Thursday 25 December 2014

Wenger: Arsenal are less vulnerable

Published 07/08/2014 | 23:50

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger believes his side can compete financially with the biggest clubs in the World
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger believes his side can compete financially with the biggest clubs in the World

Arsene Wenger believes the days of Arsenal being at the mercy of the richest clubs in the world are over.

A number of former Gunners stars will be lining up against Wenger's side in the Barclays Premier League this season, including Cesc Fabregas, Robin van Persie, Samir Nasri and Emmanuel Adebayor.

Over the last two years, however, Arsenal have turned the tide, holding on to their most valuable assets while bringing in the likes of Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil.

"We are less vulnerable now, that is for sure," Gunners boss Wenger said.

"In the last two years we bought Ozil and Sanchez - five years ago we would have lost Ozil and Sanchez.

"We have more money available to buy today than we had five years ago.

"We can compete better. For years we have lost top players without the ability to replace them because of financial management."

As well as Sanchez, Arsenal have spent £16million on 19-year-old defender Calum Chambers, who became the latest in a long line of players to leave Southampton this summer.

Wenger compared Arsenal's past difficulties to the current situation at Saints, where Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Theo Walcott and Gareth Bale have also departed in recent years.

"It is tiring to lose players - whether it be to Man City or somewhere else - it is the same," the Arsenal boss said.

"Southampton would say the same today. If you look at the team Southampton had last year and then add Oxlade-Chamberlain, Walcott and Gareth Bale you see the quality of the work they have done.

"They are in a similar position today to where we were before in relation to the other clubs who have superior financial power."

Wenger continued: "I don't think it's bullying - a transfer is an agreement between three parties and they are in a position where they can say no.

"The players end up at the richest clubs. Man United did that for years - they had superior financial power and they still do."

The richest teams are increasingly coming under pressure from UEFA's Financial Fair Play regulations, which inhibit a club's ability to spend more than they earn.

Wenger admits those regulations are starting to influence clubs like Man City but also believes there are loopholes to be exploited.

"It looks like they have some restrictions but they have clever people who can think about how to get around them and they do that very well," Wenger said.

"Time will tell. UEFA have to be cautious as well because of television financial power.

"If you kick a club like Paris St Germain out tomorrow, the French television companies will go to UEFA and ask for their money back.

"It's not as easy as it looked at the start."

One player who did leave Arsenal for Manchester City this summer was Bacary Sagna.

Sagna joined the Gunners from Auxerre in July 2007 and he flourished under Wenger's tutelage, earning 41 caps for France.

The full-back turns 32 in February but Wenger was still disappointed by Sagna's departure.

"Why did he go to City? You should ask him that question," Wenger said.

"I made him a proposal to stay and he chose Man City. Did he choose that a long time ago? Maybe. It looks like to me it was agreed a long time ago.

"There is always an element of disappointment because he came here as an unknown and he became a French international.

"But I respect Sagna a lot because until the last day of his contract he was super-professional.

"He decided to go somewhere else but he was ready to die on the football pitch and I respect that. Ideally I would have loved him to stay."

City failed to retain the Premier League title they won in 2012 but Wenger expects the champions to be more focused in their defence this time around.

"I hope they will relax again but they have certainly learned from that," Wenger said.

"I believe today even the most intelligent football people cannot predict who will win the Premier League this year - that makes it interesting.

"If any team wins it by 10 or 15 points, maybe you can predict, but Chelsea and Liverpool were both so close and for more than 100 days we were at the top of the league.

"Man United were not there but they will come back this season so nobody can predict what will happen."

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