As the Gunners successfully opened their pre-season preparations with a 7-0 friendly win over the Indonesian Dream Team in Jakarta on Sunday, there are still no signs of Arsenal’s promised marquee signings for the upcoming Barclays Premier League season.
With the pressure on the Arsenal manager and the club management hierarchy more than ever to end the eight-year trophy drought, things are looking the same as ever as far as close season transfers are concerned.
With a reported seventy million pounds transfer war chest available to Arsene Wenger, the largest-ever funds at disposal in the 63-year-old’s reign as the Arsenal manager, each day is passing as if the Frenchman has set his mind to keep the funds as fixed deposits in a bank for a rich interest sometime in the near long term.
The bulk of these funds being the fans’ contribution who pay so much to watch and support the Gunners year-long. Over the years Arsenal fans have been tired of hearing how moving to a new stadium has forced the club to move forward with a conservative transfer policy pulling a once feared outfit down the ladder behind the petro-pounds enabled managements of Chelsea and Manchester City.
The fans have persisted for eight long years and Arsene Wenger must know better than anyone that this is the crunch season to deliver and if his transfer ambitions remain restricted to unknown players from the remote corners of France or some poor substitutes for genuine world class players, there could be a repeat of the fan fury at the Emirates on match days.
Right now it seems the club is focused on keeping Wenger for a longer time and with a lucrative contract in place, the Frenchman, in all probability, has snubbed PSG to commit himself at the North London club. Yet in terms of bringing in match winners to N5, there is frustration all around.
Long-time target Gonzalo Higuain seems to be dragging his feet after agreeing personal terms with the Gunners a fortnight back and when it seemed that a £23 million deal has been agreed, Real Madrid issues a statement stating that there has been no bid from Arsenal and the Argentine is very much in Carlo Ancelotti’s plans for next summer.
The Gunners and Arsene Wenger on their part remain tight-lipped about the transfer and to an extent allowing Madrid to dictate terms in this frustratingly protracted negotiation. Inexperience of not being able to bring in top class players from bigger clubs over the past eight seasons might be having an effect on Arsenal’s transfer policy. Yet it is surprising to note how easily bigger teams come at the end of the season and prise away Arsenal’s most prized assets without any fuss. Real Madrid’s attitude on the proposed Higuain sale is in fact a lesson to learn for the men involved in transfer dealings at the Emirates.
At a press conference in Jakarta, Arsene Wenger remained coy on Luis Suarez and admitted that he is inclined to spend on big name players. When Arsenal launched an unsuccessful initial bid of £30 million on Suarez earlier in the week, many pundits felt that this is one way of coaxing Real Madrid, who are genuine contenders to land the Uruguayan, into a deal to sell Gonzalo Higuain and indeed this could be the case but frustration among the fans will persist unless there is genuine movement of quality match winners into the club.
Julio Cesar was tipped for a move from relegated QPR to Arsenal for a bargain price and there were reports that Arsenal officials were present in Brazil during the Confederations Cup to strike a deal there. Yet, if rumours are to be believed Napoli have snatched the keeper from under Wenger’s noses with a loan deal with QPR in place.
So what were those officials doing in Brazil spending the club’s money? Clearly the Professor thinks too much rather than acting proactively in the transfer market.
Believe it or not many UK tabloids have reported that with Julio Cesar gone, the attention has turned to Wigan’s Ali Al-Habsi who one feels is an addition to the club’s goalkeeping liability rather than adding quality which the manager never fails to promise.
Wenger said in his latest presser: “We have better financial resources than the years before and it is resources we have created ourselves. That is massively important to us. For years we were out of the race for the top-level transfers but we are coming back now because we are in a better financial situation and also because of Financial Fair Play.”
“The fans, the players, everybody is reassured by big names always. But what is important is that we don’t need numbers, we need quality.”
His last words do not invoke much excitement amongst the Arsenal fans.
While it is true that some of the money being involved in transfers across Europe is exorbitant to say the least but big clubs are going for them for the sake of silverwares and in getting a player of Gonzalo Higuain’s qualities there is no reason to pay less.
Arsenal need silverwares, and this season with so much money at disposal and Arsene Wenger having the board’s green light to spend as he likes, he should not act as if saving a couple of millions would be great for the club. Instead spending £10 million more on Luis Suarez as an alternative to the talented Argentine, which could be a dreaded gamble particularly for a striker not best known for his discipline plus would be missing the first six Premier League matches of the new campaign for a reason that many would say is history.
Give Madrid as much as they want for Higuain and while it may sound ridiculous but did Bayern Munich consider negotiating with Borussia Dortmund when they activated Mario Gotze’s buy-out clause? Did Madrid themselves consider talking to Real Sociedad when they activated the astronomical buy-out clause of Asier Illaramendi after the latter bluntly refused Los Blancos that their prized asset is not for sale?
Bayern and Real are European superpowers not because of their success on the pitch but also because they want their future players at any cost. These talents are being scouted for long periods and Arsenal are better than anyone in this but the scouts’ reports get zero notice just because one man is adamant enough to save the club’s money for the future and the fans pay the ultimate price for not being able to watch the best of players ply their trade at the Emirates.
Why Arsenal are delaying so much in activating the £24 million release clause of Marouane Fellaini with just over a month left before it expires is beyond any reason. And, if Mr.Wenger feels the Belgian is not worth it he must not assure the fans of high profile signings in the future. Because the Emirates faithful do not only want to miss out on a quality buy but also see that player move to Manchester United or elsewhere and win leagues and cups.
Even Tottenham showed brilliant negotiating ability in landing Brazilian Confederations Cup star Paulinho even though there is no Champions League football on offer at White Hart Lane next season, and with Gareth Bale set to stay in England, Arsenal could be easily toppled from their favourite top four place come May 2014.