Sport Soccer

Wednesday 21 November 2018

Wenger: Lack of Champions League football could hurt Arsenal in transfer market

The Gunners’ hopes of a return to elite-level European competition ended on Thursday.

Atletico Madrid v Arsenal – UEFA Europa League – Semi Final – Second Leg – Wanda Metropolitano
Atletico Madrid v Arsenal – UEFA Europa League – Semi Final – Second Leg – Wanda Metropolitano

By Mark Mann-Bryans, Press Association Sport

Arsene Wenger admits his failure to return Arsenal to the Champions League may mean his successor struggles to attract signings to the club.

The Gunners will be without Champions League football for a second season next year after Wenger’s side crashed out of the Europa League at the semi-final stage following a 2-1 aggregate defeat to Atletico Madrid.

The winners of that competition earn a spot in the Champions League but following their exit and the fact they are set to finish sixth in the Premier League – the lowest position since Wenger took charge in 1996 – the Emirates Stadium will not host elite-level European competition next season.

While ending his 21-year stay without any silverware will be difficult for the Frenchman, Wenger also conceded a lack of Champions League football could prevent Arsenal landing big-name players under the new manager.

“It’s possible yes,” Wenger replied when asked by Sky Sports if an absence of Champions League football could affect Arsenal’s ability to attract signings.

“But I think we have enough quality inside the club and you always find one or two players who are happy to join the club.

“Honestly I don’t know how difficult it will be and I wish that the club will be successful in having a good transfer market.”

Wenger’s last home game in charge will come at home to Burnley on Sunday, with Arsenal planning to show their appreciation.

Post-match speeches will take place as well as a reported guard of honour for the outgoing 68-year-old.

It remains to be seen how supporters react given he departs following another disappointing campaign which has seen him come under scrutiny once again.

Asked if Sunday promises to be an emotional occasion, Wenger replied as only he could, suggesting his Arsenal “love story” is one that lacks a happy ending.

“I feel sad because I love this club and what the club represents and you don’t leave 22 years of your life and just walk away easy.

“I have dealt with difficult situations in my life and I will do it again.

“I had some time to adjust to do that and get that idea into my head. It’s sad but all the love stories come to an end and they do not always finish well. Most of the time, they don’t finish well!”

Wenger also once again reiterated that he will not play a part in appointing his successor, as Sir Alex Ferguson did when David Moyes replaced the Scot at Manchester United following his own long-term tenure.

“I will not be involved in that,” he said.

“My job is not to choose my successor. If someone asks my opinion I will give it, but I think a club works well when everybody does their job.”

Wenger is clearly unsure as to what his immediate future holds but will continue to follow the game intently, just has he has done for the past 35 years.

“No, because if I don’t work I will watch football every day. That will not change,” he replied when asked if he could imagine his life without football management.

“I don’t know. Maybe after three weeks I will think ‘come on, don’t be stupid, get back to work’. I am completely open at the moment, I don’t know.”

Press Association

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