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Tuesday 2 September 2014

Wenger 'still working' on transfers

Published 01/08/2013 | 17:02

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Arsene Wenger says work is ongoing to sign new players

Manager Arsene Wenger maintains Arsenal are "still working" to improve the squad - but insists his young Gunners will be stronger next season regardless of whether there are any new additions ahead of the transfer deadline.

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The Gunners have returned from a successful Asia tour to host this weekend's Emirates Cup, which did not take place last year because of the London Olympics, with matches against Rafa Benitez's Napoli and Galatasaray.

However, while chief executive Ivan Gazidis talked up the club's new "financial firepower" at the end of last season, that has yet to be transformed into any concrete deals.

A move for Gonzalo Higuain from Real Madrid never materialised as the striker eventually signed for Napoli instead, while the Gunners' pursuit of Liverpool's wantaway striker Luis Suarez appears to have hit the buffers following their £40m+£1 bid.

Despite reports of interest in Brazil goalkeeper Julio Cesar, Swansea defender Ashley Williams and Everton midfielder Marouane Fellaini, not to mention England frontman Wayne Rooney, so far France Under-20 forward Yaya Sanogo is the only confirmed new recruit - and that on a free transfer from Auxerre.

Wenger, though, stressed everyone remains busy behind the scenes looking to bring in the right type of player to supplement a squad full of promise as Arsenal aim to end the best part of a decade without silverware in 2013/2014.

Speaking during the Emirates Google+ Hangout with AArsene Wenger the Gunners boss said: "We are still working on improving our squad, but we have a base of young players who get a chance here, who started in the Premier League, like (Wojciech) Szczesny, Jenkinson, (Alex Oxlade-)Chamberlain, (Jack) Wilshere, (Aaron) Ramsey, (Theo) Walcott - that is unique, nobody else has done that.

"These players can have a special bond and they are on the way upwards, they are not over the hill.

"They will be better next year and that is why I am confident we will be stronger next season."

Wenger continued: "We had a fantastic end to the season, because we won eight of the last 10 (league) games.

"We have had a good pre-season and for the first time in recent seasons we have not lost (sold) any player.

"Our target now is to transfer that confidence into the start of the new season and it is vital for us to have a good start."

Wenger has at least managed to trim the wage bill with the departures of Andrey Arshavin and Sebastien Squillaci, while Ivory Coast forward Gervinho is expected to join Roma and Nicklas Bendtner Malaga, if they can meet the Denmark international's pay demands.

While of course there is still plenty of time for Arsenal to bring in some fresh blood ahead of the closure of the transfer window at midnight on Monday September 2, Wenger is likely to face some tough questions at tomorrow's scheduled pre-tournament media conference as to why he has so far not dipped into a reported £70million war-chest with which to bolster the squad for a long overdue sustained assault on the Barclays Premier League title.

The Arsenal squad bonded well in Asia, where they won all four matches - including a historic game in Vietnam and two following a training camp in Japan.

However, it took a late goal from teenage striker Chuba Akpom to help beat Urawa Red Diamonds last week.

Defender Kieran Gibbs accepts the team have to raise the intensity levels again this weekend, with only a friendly against Manchester City in Finland then left before the new campaign kicks off at home to Aston Villa on August 17.

"This is where we are really looking to start preparing properly, in terms of full competitiveness on the pitch," the England international said on Arsenal Player.

"It is our target to treat the Emirates Cup like the season is fast approaching and really go through the gears.

"We missed it last year, so it is good to be coming back and getting a good pre-season game at our home ground.

"If you don't take it seriously then you are not going to take the season seriously.

"It is really important that we are fully switched on."

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