I hesitate to mention the S-word again, as their fans already think I’m obsessed, but unfortunately there’s been no actual proper football going on lately, so I was looking at quotes from Arsène Wenger before the NLD. He was asked about the Totts and Gareth Bale.
As it was leading up to the match, it was somewhat predictable to say Spurs’ signings would take time to gel and spending is no guarantee of success. His comments that led on from a question about whether Bale was worth £86m are more relevant:
“I don’t think at all that the prices are linked with the quality of the players, during this summer especially.
The prices today are just linked with the financial power and the desire of the buyer. But it is impossible to assess a market where you can say ‘this is the normal price for this player because that is his quality’. That has gone completely because in transfers you go from zero to £10million and afterwards from £30million to £80million but that is not linked with the quality of the players, just the financial power of the buyer.
For me, there are very few players who you can justify paying over £50million for.”
Yeah, hold on Arsène – haven’t prices always been linked to the financial power and desire of the buyer? The only difference is that there are more very rich clubs than there used to be, so more high prices. Even so, it was one of the old guard rich clubs who broke their own world record price with Bale, not the nouveau riche vulgarians of the Etihad, PSG or Monaco.
What Arsène appears to be saying, apart from opining that Bale wasn’t worth £50m or more, was that he wasn’t prepared to pay what is now the going rate for top, top super quality. As I’ve said several times, he has his valuations of players and he refuses to bid higher than that. In many ways it’s a noble stance, but it clearly has disadvantages. It also explains why the Suarez negotiations stalled at £40,000,001.
Arsène went on: “In our job, there is a technical risk when you buy more than three players because you unbalance the stability of your squad a little bit. It’s always difficult when you bring so many players in.
“We will not panic buy, that is for sure. You can believe me. It is not in my [nature] to panic.
“If we cannot we will not do anything stupid just for the sake of saying that we have done something. We will do what makes sense.”
Arsène must have been going against his nature in 2011, then, when panic was the order of the day and five players came in just ahead of the deadline and just after a panic-inducing 8-2 loss. Still, a man is entitled to change his mind.
A couple of days later Ozil was signed (I don’t do umlauts). Arsène went against his better nature/his earlier misdirection (delete as desired) and signed a player for £42m. Why?
Well firstly, he’s a damn good player, and although we haven’t seen him in Arsenal action yet I’m sure he’ll be great for us. Pretty much every team in the world would be enhanced by adding him, so I’m not against the signing ‘footballistically’. I’m not against the price either. The money was there, that and a lot more, and I firmly believe it should be spent for the purpose of strengthening the team. If not, they may as well give it all to the Arsenal Foundation so some good comes of it. Spending the available money to strengthen the team and do your best to win is surely the raison d’etre of all football clubs.
I’m sure the Board are all breathing huge sighs of relief that someone became available in the last couple of days of the window. Ivan would have been washing egg off his face for months otherwise. Even funnier, all the twitter know-it-alls would have been forced to shut up for a while, but Arsène saved them all at the last minute, while he was saving himself.
I hope he realises that buying the player is actually the easy bit. Now said player and all his fellows have to perform and some luck has to come our way with injuries.
Anyway, for the record, my Arsenal predictions for this season are:
- Premier League – 3rd
- FA Cup – 5th round
- League Cup – Quarter Final
- CL – last 16
I fear the squad is too small to challenge in the cups, which would otherwise be the best chance of silverware. So more of the same. As long as Spurs aren’t first or second, I’ll take that.
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