Wenger defends Arsenal’s transfer window inactivity

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It’s not easy being Arsene Wenger these days. No matter what the legendary Arsenal manager does, he can’t seem to get the worldwide media, and his own fans, off his back.

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While those bodies believe their criticisms of Wenger to be of his own doing, the 65-year-old Frenchman sounds like he’s heard just about enough second-guessing, criticizing and soapboxing to last him a lifetime.

Speaking Thursday, ahead of his side’s Premier League clash with Stoke City (Watch live, Saturday at 10 a.m. ET on Live Extra), Wenger was once again forced to defend his inactivity during the recently concluded summer transfer window, explain to the whole world how he didn’t “mislead” anyone over the details of Danny Welbeck’s ongoing injury situation.

All quotes from the Guardian:

“To support the club and support the team is to stand behind the players. It is not always expecting someone coming down from heaven to sort out all your problems.”

“You either find someone who strengthens your squad or not. Whether we have players injured or not doesn’t change the problem. That’s what I don’t understand from the media. I am surprised that people accused me of lying.

“When I was in the press conference on Friday morning, I did not know Welbeck had a bad setback. I did not lie to you, I gave you the information I had. I heard late on Friday night that his condition had not evolved as well as we thought it was and he had needed a specialist and needed further investigation. Apart from that, if we did not find someone [to sign], we did not find them. I can understand everyone’s hope, but if you look at what happened in the transfer market it shows you that there is a shortage of solutions out there.

Is it possible, just maybe, that everyone is actually right here?

Did Arsenal need to reinforce a number of areas during the summer window? Absolutely, we’ve already established that and discussed it at great length. They’re short depth at full back, depth at defensive midfield, depth in central midfield and (probably) depth at striker (if not a brand new starter).

The Gunners will unquestionably be a worse team over the course of 38 games for having not signed a single player to cover any of those four areas. They were, however, wise to remain idle during the summer transfer window, given the inflated prices paid for marginal players elsewhere, if you believe Wenger’s notion that “the [options] we had were not convincing at all.”

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I, of course, do not buy this. For $38 million, they could have put Morgan Schneiderlin at the base of their midfield, behind Aaron Ramsey and Santi Cazorla. That’s an improvement on Francis Coquelin. Too much for a defensive midfielders? OK, then for $15 million, they could have had Yohan Cabaye, who astoundingly moved from Paris Saint-Germain to Crystal Palace. For $19 million, they could have signed an established right back in Matteo Darmian or Nathaniel Clyne. The list goes on and on and on. If Arsenal won’t sign these players, then someone else will. Not a single one of the above summer signings wouldn’t have significantly improved the Gunners’ chances in 2015-16.

Spending money wisely is certainly a laudable endeavor in the modern game, but while it does assure the club’s long-term financial safety, the Premier League’s 19 other teams are continuously pushing on and strengthening in areas of weakness window after window. No more so than the five or six teams typically finishing in the middle of the table. Before long, the likes of Stoke, Palace, Tottenham Hotspur, Southampton and Everton will have spent enough — and wisely so — they will have caught up to Wenger and Co.

Former Arsenal winger slams club for lack of transfer activity

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Arsenal has been highly criticized recently, as the Gunners were the only team in Europe’s five major leagues not to sign an outfield player over the summer transfer window.

Supposedly in the market for a top-class striker, Arsenal was linked with Real Madrid’s Karim Benzema throughout the summer. However, they never even put in a bid for the player, as goalkeeper Petr Cech remained the club’s lone summer signing.

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That has Paul Merson very upset, as the man who made nearly 300 appearances for Arsenal said the side needed some new faces after finishing third in the Premier League last season.

Merson, who now works as a pundit for Sky Sports in the UK, slammed his former club for failing to make any deals over the summer, believing they will likely fall short in the league once again.

The fans think ‘what are we coming for? We turn up every week, we pay the highest prices and what for? Top four? We might get a day out at Wembley again in the FA Cup.’ Wow-wee.

Just put in a bid for Benzema. £75m. If Real Madrid turn around and say ‘we’re not selling him’, you can’t argue with that. You’ve put in a bid and if they turn it down or the lad doesn’t want to come, that’s the way it goes. But show something.

There’s a saying in life: Keep on doing the things you do and you’ll get the same results. How different is this season going to be for Arsenal? It’s the same team that finished 12 points behind Chelsea last year. Why, this year, will this team finish above Chelsea?

I can tell you now, there will be a phase this season when they’ll be unbelievable, win seven on the trot and play the best football you’ve ever seen. But at the end of the season, with this team and no signings, I’d be absolutely shocked if they won the Premier League.

Arsenal’s lack of transfer activity will surely be a talking point if the team has a bad run of games during the year, especially if there are troubles scoring goals.

For now, Arsene Wenger will have to manage with the team he has, as many are already looking towards the January transfer window.

Reports: Pogba turned down Chelsea move despite offer of $275,000 per week

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Throughout the summer, Paul Pogba was linked with a high-profile move away from Juventus, with all the biggest clubs in the world reportedly interested in his services.

The likes of Manchester City, Chelsea, Barcelona and Real Madrid were all reported to be in the running, but Pogba decided to stay at Juventus.

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Reports out of Europe are now saying that Chelsea came closest to signing the 22-year-old star, but he told the club he was not interested and would be staying in Turin.

Italy’s Gazzetta dello Sport is reporting that the Blues were willing to offer Juventus $95 million to bring the French midfielder to Stamford Bridge, and would pay Pogba nearly $275,000 per week in wages.

According to French news outlet L’Equipe, Jose Mourinho called Pogba this summer in an effort to seal a move to Chelsea, but the club never submitted an official bid after Pogba told Mourinho he would be staying in Italy.

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Pogba started his senior career at Manchester United, but after failing to find minutes in the first team under Sir Alex Ferguson, he moved to Juventus in 2012. At Juve, Pogba has won three Serie A titles and won the Golden Boy award in 2013, given to the best player in Europe under the age of 21. After starring for France in the 2014 World Cup, Pogba was named the Best Young Player in the tournament.

Considered arguably the best young talent in the world right now, Juventus’ director Giuseppe Marotta believes Pogba’s value will continue to grow to over $100 million. With Pogba reportedly interested in eventually playing in Spain for Real Madrid or Barcelona, expect some more massive offers to come in for the young star next summer.

Manchester United calls Real Madrid’s handling of De Gea transfer “clumsy”

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Manchester United has fired back at Real Madrid regarding the ongoing David de Gea transfer saga.

Earlier today, Real president Florentino Perez claimed United “lack experience” and took too long to review the paperwork when trying to complete the move.

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Now, Manchester United has responded to Perez’s latest statement, saying Real Madrid is trying to take the focus away from “their own clumsiness.”

United also said the club has the support of the English FA, which can prove the documents were submitted on time.

The facts speak for themselves and the FA are prepared to back our case that the documents were in on time.

Real seem intent to move the focus away from their own clumsiness this summer. We all like to blame others but if you let one slip through your fingers into the back of the net, then ultimately the culpability is yours.”

Shots fired from Ed Woodward and Manchester United, who are unwilling to let Real Madrid badmouth the club without a response from Old Trafford.

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No one knows exactly what happened on Deadline Day when the transfer fell through, but United has repeatedly stated they have proof they completed everything according to code. On the other hand, Real has just been trying to pass blame without offering any proof that United is at fault.

Hopefully, this war or of words doesn’t linger on until the January transfer window…or next summer.

Real Madrid’s Perez says De Gea move failed because Manchester United lacks transfer “experience”

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Florentino Perez isn’t done taking shots at Manchester United.

Real Madrid had already issued a point-by-point critique laying out why the David De Gea-Keylor Navas trade-off failed at the summer transfer deadline, and now is pointing to United as novices in the transfer game.

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At least compared to the club that’s done a move for a “Galactico” or twelve.

Perez says a move that should’ve taken an hour “took eight”, and blasted the Red Devils’ chairman by using examples from 2013.

From the BBC:

Florentino Perez drew parallels with United’s failure to sign both Real’s Fabio Coentrao and Athletic Bilbao’s Ander Herrera on the final day of the summer transfer window in 2013.

Goalkeeper De Gea’s move fell through as paperwork was not submitted in time.

“They lack experience,” Perez told Spanish radio station Cadena SER. 

“This same thing happened to Coentrao and Herrera.”

The idea that United lacks experience in the transfer game is pretty funny. The club has sent Cristiano Ronaldo and David Beckham to La Liga’s giants, and purchased Angel Di Maria from Madrid amongst dozens of deals in recent years.

Hopefully this is the last blast in what’s become an annoying war of words, one that could’ve easily been avoided had either party not been having a foot-measuring contest.