It is not unique to this summer - Arsenal's transfer policy has been laughable for many years now. 

Of course, in years gone by, transfer fees needed to be reduced and player sales sanctioned to pay for their brand new stadium (although curiously wages remained sky high) but finally, with the stadium paid for and massive revenue pouring in, this summer was supposed to be different. 

Big money deals were promised and established top-class players were going to be brought in to bolster a side that pales in comparison to 'The Invincibles'. So far it hasn't happened and if that wasn't frustrating enough, it doesn't look like happening at all.

Last summer, Wenger was justifiably criticised for leaving his business until late in the transfer window and then paying the consequences. Having sold one of the world's best centre forwards and replacing him with Ligue 1's unknown top scorer, it looked bleak. 

This year it looks even bleaker. Their domestic opponents have all strengthened and what's worse is that their North London rivals, Tottenham, have done some very good business and look set to steal fourth spot from them. 

While their title rivals and European rivals are improving, Arsenal seem to be falling further and further behind every year and those trophies are getting further and further out of reach.

At the start of the window, we heard the usual talk of an enormous transfer kitty and promises from the board and Wenger saying that top players would be brought in and that the team would compete for silverware but then something incredible happened: Wenger had set his sights on Gonzalo Higuain, a proven, world-class goalscorer and even agreed terms with him – just what Arsenal needed! Hurrah! 

The transfer seemed all but done and Gunners fans everywhere rejoiced. That is, until Wenger dragged his heels over the transfer fee and the Argentine hit-man joined Napoli instead. Yes, Wenger's frugality cost Arsenal again.

Not to be deterred, the Frenchman decided to set his sights even higher at an almost unreachable target: Luis Suarez. He has put in two enormous bids but Liverpool are loathed to sell to a domestic rival. 

Suarez is trying to engineer a move and force his way out but unfortunately it's a battle he doesn't look likely to win. It's also a battle Wenger looks unlikely to win.

Suarez may be a contemptible human being but as a player he is exactly what Arsenal need. Sure, his finishing can be erratic but his win-at-all-costs mentality, his energy and drive and, of course, his skill and creativity are invaluable. 

The problem remains however, that Wenger has almost set his sights too high. Trying to destabilise a rival and steal one of their (and one of the league's) best players shows that he is finally embracing the dark side and proving that he has the capability to do things the dirty way.

And that is all very well but what Arsenal need are new, top-class recruits. Luiz Suarez would be a wonderful signing but, in my opinion, the signing of Luiz Gustavo is more pressing. His size, strength, tenacity and calm are exactly what Arsenal need to complement the likes of Jack Wilshere and Mikel Arteta and to give the team a more solid spine. 

The Gunners have lacked a top-class, pure defensive midfielder since Gilberto Silva left, and Gustavo would be ideal. He brings a winning mentality after helping Bayern Munich secure the treble last season and he is at just the right age to slot immediately into the team.

Unfortunately, like with Higuian, it appears that Arsenal are going to lose out once more - their history, their prestige, their place in Europe's best club competition this coming year, outdone by: Wolfsburg, who came 11th in the Bundesliga last year. 

What does that say about Arsenal's appeal? If Wolfsburg don't capture him, then he might well follow Higuain to Naples. The Brazilian's agent has said in the past few days that it is the Italian giants who are leading the race to sign him, not Arsenal.

Actual transfer targets choosing far less prestigious teams, ideal transfer targets for the club being ignored, Wenger's frugality scuppering potential deals - we've heard it all before.

This summer, it's the likes of Etienne Capoue, Kevin Strootman, Roberto Soldado and Bernard passing him by. In years gone by it was the likes of Yaya Toure, Vincent Kompany and Gareth Bale. But is it just Wenger choosing the wrong players or is there more to it than that?

The former certainly plays its part but one must remember where Arsenal rank in the European and Premier League pecking order. They are no longer title contenders. 

They are not a fiercely ambitious outfit like Napoli, who strive for a return to the glory days, spending big sums in the process. There are now four stronger teams in England and countless more on the continent. 

So why would top players want to come to the Emirates, however nice the stadium is? The problem is that Arsenal don't look like competing for anything, nor do they give off the impression that they are hungry enough to change that. 

Arsenal are a rich club with a big fan base and a long, successful history but they now belong to the second rank of European clubs like Valencia, Roma and Atletico Madrid, rather than the big boys such as Barcelona, Manchester United and Juventus. 

Many players see them as a stepping stone to something bigger and world-class players have left for that very reason, be it Van Persie or Fabregas. The message is clear: if you want trophies, don't come to the Emirates.

Wenger used to pride himself on finding raw gems like the aforementioned duo and turning them into stars. He did that very well. Unfortunately, unearthing world-class talent for bargain prices is much harder these days. 

Big money is what counts now and, although Wenger has seemingly cottoned onto this fact, old habits die hard when it comes to paying what it takes to get the deal done. 

Time is running out to make big signings, with clubs reluctant to sell without first having time to bring in a replacement. If he misses out on Gustavo, as seems likely, he needs to move quickly to find another player of a similar ilk, and buy him whatever the cost. 

The same goes for the striker situation. What is his plan B should Liverpool refuse to sell Suarez?

Wenger can still salvage this summer but time is running out and players who could really make a difference are going fast. Enough talk, it is time to act.  

 

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Topics:
#Arsenal
#Luis Suarez
#Bayern Munich
#Premier League
#Bundesliga
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