It’s been a long eight years for Arsenal fans and watching clubs like Manchester United, Chelsea and more recently Manchester City walk away with most of the silverware every year is frustrating.
To watch your club’s best players walk out of the Emirates exit door every year only to be replaced with lesser players didn’t help either – especially if they go on to win the league with their new club, as Arsenal’s favourite Dutchman recently did.
Fans have called for Wenger’s head, accusing the Frenchman of tightfistedness and bad decisions in the transfer market as well as on the pitch and giving him sole blame for the loss of players such as Cesc Fabregas and Robin van Persie.
Some of Wenger’s signings in recent years have been questionable, but in reality the French tactician can hardly be blamed for the club’s failures.
Players such as Van Persie and Fabregas sought silverware and the Arsenal board failed (if they even tried) to persuade them to stay on by offering them higher wages for example.
Wenger was restricted by a tight purse and by orders from higher up and could only replace the high quality players that have left over the years with ‘bargain buys’ – which is certainly not a recipe for the club to become title contenders again.
However, it seems that the club is looking to signal its intent early on in the impending transfer window. Without the fiscal restrictions that paying off a new stadium places on a club, along with a significantly swollen war chest – supplemented by the most lucrative kit-deal in English football, Arsenal can become contenders in the transfer market again and possibly even pose a title threat next season.
The Puma kit deal that Arsenal agreed upon last week will add significantly to the club’s finances. The £30m-a-year deal which, reportedly, could see a total of £170m paid out over five years dwarfs the current deal with Nike which is said to have been worth £55m over the course of seven years. Arsenal’s 21-year relationship with Nike will therefore come to an end after the 2012/13 season and the massive Puma deal will certainly aid the club in its revival.
Wenger has already courted the likes of Stevan Jovetic and will look to sign the Montenegrin early on in the window. Arsenal will likely pay in the region of £20m - £25m for the player, shattering the transfer record and clearly signalling the Gunners’ intent for next season.
Apart from the forward, Wenger is looking to acquire a right back as Bacary Sagna’s future at the club remains uncertain; a defensive midfielder; and a centre-back.
The club can now afford top players in all of those positions and they should be looking to lure proven players instead of the ‘bargains’ that Arsenal have made a habit of signing in recent times.
The current squad is already a formidable force and by plugging a few gaps – especially in the defensive midfield – with top class players, there is no reason why Arsenal can’t contend for the title next season.
However, a factor, which will impact heavily on the Emirates outfit’s transfer hopes, is the Champions League qualification that they are so desperately fighting for at the moment.
Without Champions League football next season players such as Jovetic might opt out of a move to the Emirates. The Gunners will need to play the remaining games against Wigan and Newcastle as if they were cup finals if they are going to beat their bitter rivals from Tottenham to a top four spot.
With a few players from foreign leagues joining this season, the team needed at least one season to learn to play together and by going unbeaten in their last eight league games proves they have started to do just that. The foundations are laid and if Wenger can fill the few cracks and build on it with world class players, I have no doubt that the Gunners will return to former glory before long.
The fans deserve to have their faith rewarded and I’m certain Le Proffesseur will do all he can to secure that long overdue silverware and restore the club’s pride in 2013/14.
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