Speaking in his Everton pre-match press conference, Arsene Wenger has given a few short updates on where we stand with certain transfers. With the January transfer window rapidly approaching, it was obvious that Wenger would be questioned on whether he plans on adding any players, on where we stand with Thierry Henry on loan during the MLS off-season, and on other transfer news.
£150 million Emirates sponsorship deal
Wenger somewhat avoided the issue of whether some of money from our new sponsorship deal with Emirates will be spent on transfers. In a deal worth £150 million, Emirates has extended its shirt sponsorship deal for another 5 years and will retain naming rights to the stadium until 2028. Wenger insists that although the money is there, it is not as simple as just spending it on transfers because of increased player wages. The standard FFP argument then followed.
“If we get that amount of money from sponsors, it is not charity. [It is] because the sponsors feel that we act in the right way and with the right values. They reward that. After that it is down to us to spend the money in the right way.
“There are two aspects to any deal, one is the transfer [fee] and the other is the wages. The transfers for these kinds of players are not at £30 million today, they are at 50 or 60 million and what has gone through the roof is the wages of these players.
“That is why people plead for financial fair play, even some clubs who pleaded that the new television money [should not be] dedicated to increasing wages because it gives huge problems to everybody.”
Asked if he was looking at making any January transfers, Wenger insisted that he will only be looking for a top player rather than just buying somebody for the sake of bumping the squad numbers. I have to say that I do agree here. We already have quite a large squad. What we need is a world-class signing. However, given his earlier comments (above), I don’t think that we will make a world-class signing in January. I am predicting a pretty quiet transfer window.
“I don’t know. We have a good squad and I believe that these players have a fantastic attitude and deserve success and will have success, but we will be on the market if we find a real top top top player. If it’s just to add one more player [to the squad] we won’t do it, of course. We have no fixed number. We look just at quality.”
Last week, Wenger confirmed that Arsenal may be looking for a striker in January because Gervinho is away at the African Cup of Nations. A hot topic for discussion is whether Thierry Henry will return to the Emirates for a second loan spell. Henry’s loan spell with Arsenal last year was pretty successful, but Wenger has been busy and hasn’t spoken to him about it yet.
“No [I haven’t spoken to Henry about it]. At the moment I have not much time to think, because we play many games.”
Wenger was also asked about where Arsenal stand with a move for highly-rated Crystal Palace winger Wilfried Zaha. It is suggested in numerous newspapers that Zaha, who has also been linked with moves to Manchester City, Manchester United and Chelsea within recent weeks, could join the club as a replacement for Theo Walcott.
“We are looking at every player who could strengthen our squad, but he is not more on the list than anybody else.”
That reliable newspaper The Metro has taken this quote and used it for an article entitled “Wilfried Zaha among Arsenal January transfer targets, Wenger confirms.” The Daily Mail have done a very similar article. In my opinion, Wenger’s comment was deliberately noncommittal and doesn’t tell us anything. Zaha is just one of a number of players that Arsenal are looking at.