A curious sea-change has been occurring in the last few weeks with Arsenal’s transfer policy. Not in reference to the sale of two first team members; we’ve always sold our best players when we can get the best price for them under Wenger, rather the manager is being much more open about transfer targets.
Traditionally speaking, the club never comments on transfer rumours and similarly never announces the money involved in confirmed transfers. Wenger too, is notoriously coy about rumoured transfer targets, typically only mentioning specific targets to the foreign press and even then when the transfer is looking fairly certain. But in a summer in which we’ve sold 2 first team players for nearly 40million , ‘only’ spent 10million and thus far failed to bring in the much vaunted defensive midfielder, there seems to be a remarkable change of tactic from Wenger. Gone is the reserved Professor who never reveals his hand until the River, rather Wenger has been publically discussing who he’d like to bring in, problems with transfers and even money. The latest of which was yesterday when, at a a press conference to announce Arsenal’s charity of the year as Great Ormond Street Hospital, Wenger once again discussed the possibility of Patrick Vieira coming back to Arsenal. Last week, Wenger publically declared his disappointment at the impasse of the Chamakh transfer and earlier in the summer made reference to Phillip Melo and his admiration of Thomas Vermaelen.
The question is why? Or more pertinently, if we are to wonder why he is much more vocal about transfers, the questions are as follows:
Is Wenger trying to placate the fans?
Is he looking to be more open, perhaps responding to the very vocal criticism from the shareholders meeting last year?
Is he being very genuine and open for the sake of morale within the squad?
Or perhaps worst, is he simply bluffing, providing the illusion that he’s interested in bringing in new faces, but in reality happy to use the squad as it stands?
The truth here is that we simply don’t know. Until the transfer window closes we cannot be sure what his motivation for this change in approach is, but in many respects it doesn’t really matter given that the work of a club manager in the media is all smoke and mirrors, quotes and motivation.
So long as it’s not a bluff. If it is, then we have a problem.
Let’s not extol the virtues of Wenger and his incredible legacy that will long out last us all. We all know how much he has given us, how much he has revolutionised the club and how brilliant a manager he can be. But as we enter another season without silverware from the season previous, it is perhaps time that Wenger was forced from his pedestal to at the very least, enter into discussion as to what he is looking to do with the Club. There are many reasons to trust in Wenger and let’s realise that we as fans, don’t know as much as we think we do, but the fact that Wenger has faced criticism and questions about his transfer policy suggests that something may not be right. Why, for example, not reinvest the money generated this summer? Why not spend it on the areas of the squad that obviously need extra depth?
There are a number of reasons for this and let’s not consider the possibility that Wenger has to sell players to keep the board happy, rather consider Wenger’s staunch belief in his youth policy. This season could be the apex of his ideal. This squad is dominated by under-25 year olds, perceived ‘bad influences’ removed and now a new 4-3-2-1 formation, the basis of which is flowing, attacking, ‘tippy tappy’ football? Is this this therefore the sign of Wenger throwing the last dice and not reinvesting because he wants to prove everyone wrong?
Possibly, and that’s fine if it works, but if we end up trophy-less this year, then it will be time for Wenger to respond, not to transfer speculation but to valid criticism.