Saturday 21 April 2018

Wenger admits huge wages mean big signings out of his price bracket

Jeremy Wilson

Arsène Wenger has admitted for the first time that Arsenal’s self-sustaining financial model means the club cannot afford to make signings that command both high transfer fees and wages.

After consecutive defeats against Manchester United and Chelsea, as well as some stinging criticism from Michael Ballack over their style of play, the spotlight has again turned to Arsenal’s transfer strategy.

Bordeaux’s Marouane Chamakh is expected to arrive on a free transfer at the end of the season but, despite a serious ankle injury to Robin Van Persie, the only senior addition to Arsenal’s squad during January was Sol Campbell.

“If you go on high transfers, you go on high wages — it is linked, but we cannot afford,” Wenger said. “We have gone for a policy and we need to be strong and patient and sometimes get knock-backs but still persist. Football lives in an artificial world at the moment.

“People ask me 'Why do you not buy a great striker?’ Tell me one who has moved from one club to another — not one. We tried to sign players, but it didn’t work.”

Wenger’s remarks follow a year in which Arsenal made a profit of £35.2?million and also generated about £30?million from their summer transfer deals. However, Wenger is aware that the sort of high-profile signings that supporters crave are also likely to have demands in excess of the present wage structure, with implications for other players.

Over the past nine months, the club have diverted considerable funds to ensuring that the existing squad remains intact, with 15 players all agreeing new contracts.

Wenger also responded to Ballack, the Chelsea midfielder, who accused Arsenal of being one-dimensional after their 2-0 defeat. “Every team is predictable,” Wenger said. “You know that Chelsea will play for Drogba. We lost the games with defensive mistakes. Could they predict that the volley of Arshavin would hit the foot of Cech, that Nasri would make a bad control of the long ball when he was clean through, that Bendtner would be brought down?

“What is predictable is that we try to pass the ball. Now if somebody can prove to me that the purpose in football is not to try to pass the ball, then I will believe it. The best way to [win the games] is the one that’s best adapted to the quality of your players.”

Wenger also highlighted Chelsea’s subtle fouls and admitted he would accept but not encourage his players to use similar tactics. Of the accusation that he is a sore loser, he added: “I don’t deny that but, in the last game [against Chelsea] I was not. And one quality you have to give me is that when we win I always try to give credit to the loser.

''On Sunday, Ballack comes out and it is down to his responsibility. I don’t care about that. For me, it’s not what football is all about. Everyone will drop points. It’s realistic that we can catch Chelsea and United.”

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