Exclusive Vermaelen interview on this site Friday 30th April
By Walter Broeckx
Sometimes you hear fans say that we haven’t won anything since 2005 and that it is all down to Wenger not wanting to buy players.
Wenger is according to those fans also to blame because he didn’t keep the invincibles longer but instead sold them.
Let’s just see if both of those statements are correct.
Let us start with the Invincibles and yes apart from Soll Campbell they have all gone in the last few years. But as someone pointed out a few days ago two seasons after the Invincibles we just ended 4th in the league after jumping over Tottenham on the last day of the season and with the last game played at Highbury.
So it was clear, for those who wanted to see, that the time of the Invincibles was over. The invincible season was somehow the last big trick those older players had pulled out of the hat before falling down. A great way to finish a career one could say.
So those players didn’t do the business anymore and were too old. Yes Wenger has sold the Invincibles or let them go but did he have any other choice? If he had held on to them until now our team would have an average age of some 35 years old. Well it could be a bit less but I think no fan will believe they still would be finishing in 4th place at this time in their career.
So blaming Wenger for the loss of the Invincibles is to ignore the facts that the players in that team were going downhill and it would have cost us probably a few seasons in the CL as the biggest part of the Invincibles could hardly manage to qualify only two years after their biggest season ever.
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Wenger does not want to buy players. Is this statement true? For a big part: yes. Wenger has been working on the youth project, which will keep us in line with the new regulations with an ease that other top teams can only dream off. Now and in the future.
So yes Wenger wanted to raise young players to get them in the first team. If you look at the number of home grown players we have in our squad I think it is fair to say that we have done very well.
But just saying : Wenger never wants to buy or bring players in from other teams is not correct. I will give you the names and the moment of the players Wenger did buy in the last years and I have taken the summer of 2006 (the final invincible year one could say) as a starting point. It was also the year we went to the Emirates – and buying players and moving to the Emirates are two things that are very closely related.
In the season of 2006-2007 Wenger bought: Rosicky, Gallas and Denilson (£3,4m). That’s 3 players.
In the season of 2007-2008 Wenger brought in: Fabianski, Eduardo(£7,5m), Sagna(£7m) and Diarra. That’s 4 players.
In the season 2008-2009 Wenger went out to buy: Ramsey(£5m), Nasri (£11m), Silvestre, Bishoff and Arshavin (£10m). That’s 5 players. In that season we also had Vela coming to Arsenal but he was bought the year before but had to be loaned out. But I just left him out.
And in this season 2009-2010 Wenger has got us: Vermaelen (£10m) and Campbell. That is 2 players.
We can see that Wenger has bought players every year and he did indeed spend money. Yes most of those players were mostly unknown for the fans. But in those years Wenger did bring in players that were known as world class like Rosicky, Gallas, Nasri and Arshavin. And players that have turned out to really good players.
As we all can have different opinions on certain players I will not tell you who you should think have become good players or even world class players. But I think it is fair to say that players like Vermaelen, Sagna, Ramsey, Eduardo (before his leg was kicked to pieces) should be considered as good buys. That is my opinion but you can add names to that list or take them of your personal list.
People who also follow the worldwide news a bit could see that from the moment that the economic crisis started ( 2008) and the housing market fell apart he did sign fewer players in the following transfer windows and spent less money. I think the economic crisis has made Arsène Wenger and the board act more carefully as Arsenal was hit hard because they were trying to sell a few hundred apartments at that time.
But if you look at our spending prior to that Wenger was buying players every year and more than one a year. And some of those players were known as world class players. Just after the crisis, (which is still going on if you only take a look at Greece and maybe Portugal and Spain in the next weeks), we actually were very careful with our dealings.
Now that the first signs of the house market getting better are appearing and the news that the Highbury flats seem to be sold, and the debt for building the flats is paid off it could mean that Arsenal and Wenger will start spending again, back in their usual rhythm of 3 or 4 players coming in every year.
We will see in the next weeks what will happen but don’t believe it when they say: “Wenger doesn’t buy players”. Because he did and he will do it when he thinks they are needed.
Note: After the name of some players mentioned above I added the price that is/was named by some journalists when the deal was done. These numbers could be wrong as only Arsenal, the selling club and the player know them. But I just wanted to add them so one can see that Wenger has paid money for transfers in the last years. For the players without a price tag no figures could be found immediately.