LONDON: Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger hit back Thursday at suggestions he is afraid to spend in the transfer market amid concerns the Gunners are losing ground to other leading Premier League clubs.
The north London club, who were last crowned Premier League champions back in 2004, are estimated to have cash reserves in the region of £200 million ($263 million, 232 million euros).
But their only signing this summer has been that of Switzerland midfielder Granit Xhaka for a reported £30 million from Borussia Moenchengladbach.
That is in stark contrast to the transfer activity elsewhere, including Manchester United’s world-record £89 million move to bring the French midfielder Paul Pogba back to Old Trafford from Juventus amid several signings.
With centre-backs Gabriel and Per Mertesacker injured, veteran French manager Wenger decided against recalling defender Laurent Koscielny, as well as Olivier Giroud and Mesut Ozil, for Sunday’s Premier League opener against Liverpool after they were all involved at Euro 2016.
Buying not the only way
As a result, the fledgling partnership of Calum Chambers and Rob Holding started in a 4-3 defeat — a result that raised fresh questions about the strength of Arsenal’s defence and the scope of their ambition amid accusations they’ve ‘settled’ for finishing in the top four and a place in the Champions League
But Wenger, speaking ahead of Arsenal’s trip to champions Leicester City on Saturday, said: “You (the media) are absolutely convinced that I do not want to spend the money, but I reassure you we are ready to spend the money.
“Buying calms the fans, of course, but we have to make sure…it is important to spend money but we have to spend it the right way,” the 66-year-old, in charge of Arsenal since 1996, added.
“What I fight against is to think that the only way in football to deal, is to buy.
“It is right when you need the players and you identify the players and we are not scared to spend money, but to buy in itself is not a quality but to buy the good players is a quality, and I think this club has been built on that.
“We had great success in the last 20 years in improving our structures and the main thing is based on a transfer policy.”
Wenger did try to sign striker Jamie Vardy from Leicester, only for the England forward to decide to sign a new contract with the Midlands club.
“You have to respect the decisions of people and that’s part of it and I think on every transfer market you have one or two who have decisions to make and you have to respect them,” he said.
“I don’t think he has something special against us, I don’t see why he would.”
Arsenal beat Leicester home and away last season but still finished 10 points behind the shock champions.
Leicester started the defence of their Premier League crown with a surprise 2-1 loss away to Hull City last weekend and Wenger said: “The challenge for them is to do well again and to show that their last year was not a one-off.
“They need to be capable of challenging and will need to be to show if they can be considered as one of the top teams in England.”