Just before the January transfer window Arsene came out with a statement that he is looking for a striker. With a long term injury to Van Persie and inexplicable delays in Bendtner’s return to fitness most of us were worried about the striker situation at the club. Needless to say, expectations were high.
Now that the transfer window has come and gone, we have been knocked out of the FA Cup as we were forced to field an understrength team and following the abject performance against United, it is not surprising that many fans are confused, even agitated, over our apparent lack of action in the transfer market.
Somewhere in the middle of January, Wenger did start talking of us being top scorers and downplaying our need for a striker. After initially talking of his interest in finishing business early, this change in tune led me to believe that he has tried and come up short.
The loss against our title rivals has been painful for everyone and unfortunately it has given fresh ammunition to the doom and gloom merchants. Their single biggest argument has always been our lack of signings. So now we have people calling Arsene a liar and some even going to the extent of calling for his head.
I am one of those who don’t mind questioning Wenger’s actions but have enough faith to believe that he will always do his best for the club. The results of my musings on our transfer activity or should I say inactivity, are as follows –
- Arsene must have explored his list of hot prospects and rejected them for one or the other reason
- He might or might not have inquired about the really top class strikers
- He must have explored various loan options, free transfers and fringe players
Of course, this is just my opinion and I might be totally wrong. In any case, here is my reasoning behind these conclusions,
Firstly, we have been linked with players like Chamakh, Traore, Remy and other young prospects. There seems to be enough truth in those links and Arsene obviously seems interested. However, none of these players is going to walk straight into the first team and make a big impact on this season’s results. It is quite likely that Wenger asked about them and realized that right now it’s not worth investing in them and his time would not be well spent following them.
Secondly, I am not very sure about how many of the really established strikers were available. In one interview Wenger did mention that Villa was not available. Given the Spaniards price tag, some people might scoff at the suggestion that Arsene would have shown interest. I prefer to give Arsene the benefit of doubt and feel that he might have made an inquiry even if the price he offered was way short of Valencia’s expectation.
Finally, in the absence of top quality strikers and the relative futility of signing youngsters the last resort would be to look at loan options and free transfers. Names like Van Nistelrooy, Huntelaar, Adriano, et al. cropped up during this period. The problem with the former United man is quite obvious, Huntelaar remains an unproven prospect and Adriano has not played in a big league for a while now. My guess is that Arsene analyzed the players available and decided that no one fits the bill.
Some people want a signing for the sake of it and there isn’t much you can say to them. I hope that those of us who like to be rational can see there wasn’t much that Wenger could have done this January.
Arsene has a strong view against spending just because we have the money. I tend to agree with him on that. There is another important aspect that people sometimes forget. We might have 30-40 million available at the moment but we do not have unlimited funds.
To put this in perspective, United were able to sign Berbatov for an astronomical sum and can afford to put him on the bench. They could also spend huge amounts on the likes of Hargreaves, Anderson and Nani and forget about them for a couple of years. Chelsea had a budget running into hundreds of millions and could easily make a 30 million mistake called Shevchenko. Man City have also spent hundreds of millions and a lot of that will prove to be a colossal waste.
Unfortunately, Wenger has money to spend but he doesn’t have money to waste. When Le Boss signs someone he has to be extra careful that it’s not a lemon he’s investing in. Nor can he invest 15-18 million on players for future like United have done with the likes of Nani, Anderson, and others. Wenger can only spend 3-5 million on such players.
Chelsea and Citeh are the moneybags, United have had a huge stadium for years and have also had a much bigger global brand. Arsenal are only just seeing the benefits of a big stadium and the slowdown in the property market last year also affected our plans. If all goes well on the property front, we might have a much larger budget in the summer.
Seeing the likes of Arshavin and Vermaelen in the team, I am convinced Wenger will spend big if the right player comes along (Still I don’t expect a 80 million bid for the likes of Ronaldo/Messi.) Till that happens, the least we can do is show some respect towards a man who works hard every day to build a successful Arsenal.