Transfer Talk: What Does Wenger Need To Do?
Why Wenger will not be held to ransom in the final week of the transfer window
As we enter the final stages of the transfer window, Arsenal fan Shaun Wares looks at what manager Arsene Wenger could be lining up before the window shuts.
The pressure is well and truly on for Wenger to spend money over the coming days as we face the ominous closure of this summer’s transfer window. Many see a long and painful run up to January unless the Arsenal squad can be reinforced with some quality additions. However, despite their catastrophic opener against Villa, the ship has been steadily steered through two less than challenging matches against Fulham and Fenerbache. Whilst these are less than star-studded sides, Arsenal have practically dominated their last two games, a stark contrast to their opening day capitulation.
Recent Wenger interviews have seen him stress the quality of football played at the Emirates over the need to please the exclusive-hungry European media with a host of new signings. In truth, watching Arsenal over these last few games, the football has been fairly free-flowing, Podolski and Giroud have been more clinical, and Wilshere and Cazorla have been pulling the strings in the centre of the park. Even the sometimes shaky Sagna has looked assured at the heart of defence. Are the supporters right to man the panic stations, shouting and hollering at Wenger to reach for the chequebook?
In many ways, the fans are right, whilst the team have been playing well, and there seems no immediate need to change things from Wenger’s point of view. However, looking at the situation from a purely mathematical standpoint, Arsenal have lost seventeen players and replaced one. The squad has been gutted and to all intents and purposes, there has been no concerted effort to address the imbalance.
Watching this evening’s game, the side looks assured and in control. The front six are holding the ball and look dangerous in possession. When you look further back than this however, at the defensive line and the bench, the cracks start to appear. That is when you begin to realise the need for reinforcement, cover, and competition within the squad. A speight of injuries will stretch an already tight squad.
I will not address which areas of the team need improvement, because in truth it is necessary all over the pitch. Even Mourinho and Pellegrini will tell you that their squads could be improved despite the embarrassment of riches and talent at their disposal. This begs the question, why is Wenger stalling, or more precisely, what is causing him to stall?
First off, Wenger has a master’s degree in economics. This is frequently over-looked, and goes a long way to explaining the situation. He must look at the economics of every transfer and weigh up whether it is financially viable to respond to the pressure and panic buy. Despite immense success in the transfer market and an income generating super-stadium, Wenger must scrutinise the financial worth of each player, his wage demands, and his suitability to the squad before making a serious effort to sign him. He obviously spots the worth in Cabaye at £10m, but an over-inflated asking price from Newcastle will do nothing to strengthen his resolve to purchase the player.
Wenger does not respond to ransom, and in my opinion is a staunch opponent to the ridiculous transfer fees we see in today’s market. If Newcastle intend to price Cabaye out of the market, then they have most likely succeeded with their £13.5m valuation. The £40m price tag for Benzema is over double the record £17m that Arsenal paid for Jose Antonio Reyes, and Wenger will still be reeling from his last big spend that didn’t pay off.
Wenger will be looking back at the summer when he bought Mertesacker and Arteta swiftly after losing 8-2 to Man Utd, two players which have been inconsistent at best, and never fully brought synergy to the Arsenal style of play. He will be more than careful of splashing cash just because it is available, and there are players who want to move. Before making a move for a player, Wenger must be sure that he will slot into the team and become a problem-free addition.
If anything is going to happen at Arsenal this summer, it won’t be until very late on, and it won’t be a spectacular, headline-grabbing superstar. Superstars have no place at Arsenal these days, they must grow into the players they promise to be, and no one man is bigger than the collective. That is the club philosophy; it doesn’t win any European Cups or Premier Leagues, but the day that it does, Wenger will have proven his point, and that will be enough for him. If you want a club that will spend £100m every year, you’re supporting the wrong team. A tenth of that figure is more realistic. Wenger will aim to go quietly about his business over the next week. The less the fans expect, the sweeter any acquisition will be, as will any success, as it will prove that chequebooks and oil tycoons do not run the game.
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