Saturday 17 March 2018

Arsene Wenger warns Arsenal fans not to expect big money signings

Arsene Wenger does not expect too much activity in the summer transfer market
Arsene Wenger does not expect too much activity in the summer transfer market

Arsène Wenger said on Friday that Arsenal would pursue "stability" rather than spectacular signings this summer.

The manager is under pressure to add reinforcements to transform his side into title contenders.

Their push for the crown ended in January when they failed to add to their squad, with Kim Kallstrom's arrival on loan their sole acquisition, and Arsenal fell away and slipped out of contention.

With season-ticket prices on the rise from next season, supporters would have expected Arsenal to open the chequebook to mount a serious push at the top of the Premier League. But Wenger has dampened any prospect of an influx of players.

"It will be busy, but the main thing for us will be to keep the stability because we feel we are close," he said. "We want to add something that makes us even stronger. But number wise it will not be massive."

Arsenal left it until the final hours of last August's deadline day before they shattered their club transfer record in landing Mesut Özil for £42.5million.

And, it appears, Wenger could be heading down a similar path. It will not be what the supporters would have envisaged as their slow start to this season was attributed to their failure to add the expected signings last summer.

Álvaro Morata, the Real Madrid striker, Lars Bender, the Bayer Leverkusen midfielder, and Kasper Schmeichel, the Leicester City goalkeeper, are now believed to be on Wenger's shopping list.

Spending big and early would have been the supporters' order of the day to try to build an era of success. But the Frenchman has told the fans they will have to bide their time before seeing any new faces.

"You are not the only one who decides when the business is done, because it's down to availability of players and the clubs who sell decide that," he said.

"At the moment I have people around me who start to look. What is available you know always, but we are not on the market specifically at all.

"Teams still play in many countries and after that, from my experience, the World Cup years have always been very quiet until the end of the World Cup. There are no players reachable.

"Everybody is focused in the country on their national team and there's not a lot happening. People are away. I believe this year again you will have to wait until July 15 to start going."

Arsenal face West Bromwich Albion in their penultimate Premier League game on Sunday and could already have their Champions League spot wrapped up if Everton lose to Manchester City.

But Wenger will once again be without the injured midfield pair of Jack Wilshere (foot) and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (groin).

The Frenchman said they would be fit and ready for the World Cup but was resigned to their domestic season being over.

"Jack is not far away, he's very close to integrating into training again," Wenger said. "It won't be a gamble [taking him] if he's completely fit, it will strengthen the team.

"If there was a medical doubt, yes it would be a gamble, but I think he'll be completely safe and medically should be all right.

"At the moment Alex has got an inflamed groin but for the World Cup he should be OK. Will he come back for us before the end of the season? I don't know."

Meanwhile, Wenger believes Uefa should come down hard on Manchester City for violating Financial Fair Play rules.

It is believed that Uefa has made a settlement offer to the 76 clubs, believed to include big-spending pair Manchester City and Paris St-Germain, who have failed to meet the spending limits criteria.

"There are rules to apply for the Financial Fair Play," he said. "If you don't respect them, you have to apply the rules."

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