The Cesc Fabregas transfer saga has rolled on throughout this transfer window, and must be an unwelcome distraction to Arsene Wenger in his preparations for the 2011-12 season. As negotiations between Arsenal and Barcelona continue, it looks like the Spaniard will return to his homeland. With Samir Nasri’s future unclear, and Gael Clichy opting to swap the Emirates for Eastlands, are Arsenal becoming a selling club?
Much has been made of the way Wenger has ran the club since the Frenchman took over from Bruce Rioch in 1996, with his thrifty approach to the transfer market and commitment to nurturing young talent delighting and frustrating Gunners fans in equal measure. The London outfit have a competitive, but regimented wage structure that is not as lucrative for the players as that of their major English or European rivals, whilst the discovery of prospects and sensible approach to recruitment is preferred to excessive splurging.
Wenger runs Arsenal as a business, and it should be applauded as the Gunners are financially stable and live within their means. Nonetheless, in the current era of fantasy football where sides such as Manchester City, amongst others, are willing to use wealthy owners to buy their way to success, Arsenal are in risk of being left behind.
Despite being there or thereabouts, Arsenal have not won a trophy since their FA Cup victory in 2005. Fans are getting annoyed with their lack of success, whilst players watch on as their equivalents at other teams get paid more and are more successful. But does this pragmatic approach adopted by Wenger make Arsenal a selling club?
The loss of Gael Clichy will be a bitter pill for the Emirates faithful to swallow, as their long serving left-back left the club to get paid more in Manchester. Fact. Nasri has rejected a new £80,000 per week contract because he is frustrated at the lack of competition success – and the Manchester clubs, who are both eager to sign him, will potentially double that wage. In the last year of his contract, Arsenal are under threat of losing the ex-Marseille midfielder for nothing this time next year.
This is not an all of a sudden occurrence. Mathieu Flamini left the Gunners to get paid more at AC Milan, as did Emmanuel Adebayor and Kolo Toure to move to Manchester City. Although these players’ temperaments and attitudes may be questioned, it is no doubt that the financial limitations in place at the club are the reasons why these established internationals, and some of the current crop, have looked to leave the Emirates.
The North London club are not in the wrong here, it is the money men who are destroying the integrity and even playing field of the game. Hopefully Fifa’s new financial fair play ruling will go some way to reinstating football related reasons as the primary motive for transfers, but in the meantime Arsene Wenger must accept that his club face losing their best players to other clubs who are willing to break the bank for their signature.