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Saturday, 08 June 2013

Arsenal: Do you trust Wenger to spend £70m wisely?


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Arsenal chief executive Ivan Gazidis says the Gunners now have the financial muscle to compete with the biggest clubs in the world and that Arsene Wenger will have £70m a year from now on to spend on players, but do you trust Wenger to use that money wisely?

The Gunners have been extremely frugal over the past eight years as they balanced the books following their move from Highbury to the Emirates. They've sold their star players for big money but have kept the cash rolling in with sky-high season tickets and Champions League qualification. With extra TV revenue this season, along with a renegotiated £150m sponsorship deal with Emirates and their kit deal with Puma raking in £30m a year, Arsenal are not short of a few bob, but Wenger's past record in the transfer window has alarmed a number of fans and ex pros.

One fierce critic of Arsene Wenger is former Gunner Stewart Robson. He told TalkSport this week that Wenger's recent forays in the transfer market have been woeful and that although they have been linked with top names like David Villa, Higuain and Rooney, Robson believes Wenger would rather bring in another Gervinho than a world class figure.

“I’m not expecting any marquee signings at Arsenal,” he said. “There’s a lot of talk about it but I don’t know if I would trust Arsene Wenger with that money. Over the last few years some of the players that he’s said were going to be world class haven’t ended up like that. People like Olivier Giroud, Philippe Senderos, Denilson, Marouane Chamakh, Armand Traore, Sebastien Squillaci, Nicklas Bendtner, Carlos Vela, Emmanuel Eboue, Park Chu-Young, Lukasz Fabianski, Gervinho and Andre Santos.

"Over the last few years some of the players that he’s said were going to be world class haven’t ended up like that. These are the sort of players who Arsene Wenger said were going to be world class  players and they haven’t done it. Over the last two seasons they have spent some money on Olivier Giroud, Lukas Podolski,  Mikel Arteta, Nacho Monreal, Per Mertesacker and Andre Santos. They haven’t been top class players.

“Arsene Wenger doesn’t appear to want to sign the top class players, or what other people would describe as top class players. He goes out and says, ‘I can buy you cheaper players for a better price who are going to be world class players in the future’ but that hasn’t been the case in the last few years.

“Some of the players who he has bought have regressed under him like Andrey Arshavin and Thomas Vermaelen. Nacho Monreal hasn’t been a good signing and Andre Santos has been hopeless for them."

Now Robson has been very outspoken regarding Arsenal and Wenger in particular for a number of years now and many Arsenal fans have opted not to listen to his gripes. But he does have a point regarding some of the flops Wenger has signed in recent years. Santos, Squillaci, Senderos, Denilson, Chamakh, Traore and Chu-Young have not been worthy of wearing the famous red and white jersey. Arshavin meanwhile arrived in a blaze of glory but was obviously unhappy at being played out of position, though why they didn't try and cash in on him last season remains a mystery.

However, I think Robson has lost the plot slightly by throwing in the likes of Giroud, Podolski and Arteta with that lot. They may not be the world class players that Robson would like to see at the Emirates, but Podolski is a German international and bagged 17 goals for the Gunners last season, even though he has been used as a substitute in most games. French striker Giroud also netted 17 times. Not bad for players in their first season in England really is it?

German defender Per Mertesacker was hopeless in his first few months and looked like he was running in quicksand trying to catch defenders, but he was walking on water last season and helped the Gunners record the best away defensive record in the top flight.

Whatever way you look at it, Wenger's record in the transfer market is pretty poor. For every good singing - Carzorla - he will buy three/four duds. But then the Frenchman has never been renowned for spending big and getting big rewards. I'm going back a bit here but Anelka, Petit and Vieira cost £6.5m between them and were sold on for more than £40m. All three of them were exceptional players for the Gunners. 

Unfortunately Wenger has been unable to replicate that form in the transfer market over the past decade and surely now the time has come for Wenger to join the big boys by signing top class established players. Rooney may not be to everyone's liking, but what a statement of intent that would be. The Manchester United striker is a fabulous player on his day and has a real winning mentality about him. His wages would smash the club's long-standing pay structure, but it would all be worth it if he was caught on camera at the end of next season with his arm around Wenger and his other arm hoisting aloft the Premier League title.

Remember Arsenal are not Premier League paupers. They are up there with the likes of Real Madrids and Manchester Untieds of this world when it comes to money. Now is surely the time to get on the same level with them on the pitch.

There is a growing belief that the 2013/14 season could be the year Arsenal end their trophy drought. Manchester United will not have the legendary Sir Alex Ferguson in the dugout this season. Manchester City, although they have already splashed the cash, will be under the guise of Manuel Pellegrini, and Mourinho is back at Chelsea. All that change could give the stable club like Arsenal a real push to go out and show everyone what they are all about.

Arsenal are not that far away from being contenders for the title. A new keeper to keep Szczesny on his toes, another central defender to compete for a starting place, a top class holding midfielder and a world class striker or two would really put the Gunners in with a real chance of honours.

But will Wenger spend that £70m wisely? Will he smash the club's wage structure to attract the best players in the world or will he boost his squad by snapping up 10 or so relatively young players? I'm sure most Arsenal fans will be hoping it's the former.

Calling all Arsenal fans: Do you trust Wenger to spend £70m wisely? Do you believe a marquee signing like Rooney, Villa or Higuain will end up at the Emirates this season or is this all talk again? Whatever your views, we'd love to hear from you.

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