English Premier League

Money talks: Arsene Wenger hits out again at Arsenal transfer focus after supporter backlash

The long-serving manager was again forced to defend the club’s lack of transfer activity following the goalless draw with Premier League champions Leicester City

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 21 August, 2016, 3:11pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 21 August, 2016, 10:39pm

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger hit out at criticism of his club’s transfer policy after he once again came under pressure from supporters to spend money on new players.

Wenger has made only one major close-season signing, recruiting Swiss midfielder Granit Xhaka from Borussia Moenchengladbach.

Xhaka made his full debut in Saturday’s 0-0 Premier League draw at champions Leicester City, but the visiting supporters made their displeasure plain by chanting: “Spend some money!”

Asked after the game why he was reluctant to part with the club’s cash, Wenger replied: “Why do you say I’m reluctant? I don’t understand that.

“If I buy you tomorrow for 45 million, I’ve spent 45 million. Have I done well, yes? If I listen to you, I will have done well, because I have spent the money. But spending the money in itself is not a quality.

“Spending the money and buying a top player, that is different. We are ready to do that. I [will] spend 300 million if I find the player, if I have the 300 million.

“I have not to forget as well that we are a club who has 600 employees who we need to have a responsible attitude [towards] as well.

“It’s a bit surprising that you come out of football games, you don’t speak about football. You have to speak about money.

“I believe that you have to respect the players who have played, the performance that has been done today by those teams.

“If we can find players who can strengthen our team, we are not reluctant to spend the money.”

It is a case of groundhog day for Arsenal’s fans, who saw Wenger make just one major signing – the acquisition of goalkeeper Petr Cech from Chelsea – before the start of last season.

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But Wenger pointed to the performance of 20-year-old centre-back Rob Holding, a low-key signing from Bolton Wanderers last month, as evidence that Arsenal are still bringing talented players to the club.

“Unfortunately, nobody speaks about the performance of Rob Holding today,” said the Frenchman, whose side lost 4-3 at home to Liverpool in their opening game.

“You should be happy. He’s English, he’s 20 years old. But I’m sorry, he didn’t cost 55 million, so he can’t be good.

“That is for me the most disappointing [thing]. We don’t speak about the performances of the players anymore. We just speak about anything else than football. I believe it’s not right.”

Wenger gave short shift to the fans’ calls for greater investment in the squad.

“They are highly influenced by the media,” he said. “That’s part of the process today. We try to make the right decisions. It’s as simple as that.”

On the plus side, Wenger saw Laurent Koscielny, Mesut Ozil and Olivier Giroud return to action at the King Power Stadium following post-Euro 2016 breaks.

There was little between the teams, last season’s top two, but Leicester had a strong penalty appeal turned down late on when substitute Ahmed Musa appeared to be tripped by Hector Bellerin.

Leicester manager Claudio Ranieri, however, was calm.

“I am not a manager who says, ‘Oh, there was a penalty,” said the Italian.

“For me, it’s OK. The referee made a very good performance. A penalty is when the referee whistles. He didn’t whistle, so it wasn’t.”

Beaten 2-1 at Hull City in their first game, Leicester remain without a win this season, but Ranieri was encouraged by what he saw against Arsenal.

“I think we deserved a little more, but it’s OK,” he said. “I’m very, very happy for the effort, the spirit and the union of the team.”