Arsene Wenger’s transfer snipe hunt

I believe that the buys should be over once the championship is started. Somewhere when you are manager, you have to make decisions and decide whether you will be successful with a squad or not.

Once the championship has started, for me, it is ‘OK, the race has started, now you cannot change any more’. And no window in January either. Because it’s too easy to rectify any mistakes that you have made, especially for clubs who have big money. It gives better chances to the smaller clubs.

Arsene Wenger, August 21st 2009.

Every square in my Arsene Wenger Transfer Window Press Conference BINGO card has been sourced directly from quotes by the manager himself. And the upper left square, the one which says “I wish there was no January window” is one of my two favorites (I’ll let you guess the other) because it speaks volumes about the man.

As if his paucity of purchases in January (the only big name player I’ve seen him buy in January was Arshavin) weren’t telling enough, Wenger has been clear about the January transfer window, he doesn’t like it. He feels it gives the haves an unfair advantage over the have-nots and if he had his way, there would either be no January window or transfers would be open all year.

Wenger’s argument is purely economics. A January window gives a disincentive to unhappy players to get on with their contracted jobs since they can earn a move by being disgruntled (c.f. Yanga-Mbiwa). Having just a month to buy players also causes inflation in the market as we have seen with Gary Cahill’s price. Teams know that if you are coming to them in January, with the League half-decided, they have you over the barrel to some extent.

There are other distortions as well, caused by having teams being able to buy their way out of relegation or into a top four spot. For example, today Wenger called it unfair that a team who played Newcastle before January faced one side and that the team who faces them after gets a wholly different side.

You’ll get no argument from me on that point. Wenger is 100% correct that if a team, say Arsenal, were to buy a superstar player, say Radamel Falcao, it would radically change the balance of Arsenal’s team sheet before and after January. Teams facing Arsenal after that purchase would have it harder. But, surely, that’s the point? To make a team that’s harder to beat? That’s why you ever purchase players, doesn’t matter if it’s January or August.

What really perplexes me is that I’m not sure which teams he’s sticking up for here. Arsenal are one of the teams that should be benefiting from this rule. We should be exploiting the January window to add players who will change the fortunes of this club, not moaning about other teams doing it. You don’t intentionally hamper the ability of your team to compete by not taking advantage of a rule that exists because of some philosophical disagreement with the rule. Arsenal are one of the richest teams in the world. Arsenal have a massive cash stockpile, that dry powder everyone at the club brags about.

But I’m also not so sure Arsene isn’t just philosophizing or as you English like to say “taking the piss”. He has, out of necessity rather that in a fit of pique, purchased players in January in order to make his team more competitive. Arshavin, again, is the prime example of this. So, he was, in all likelihood, just talking. Giving the press what they love, juicy quotes to make into headline news.

But despite all that I’m also not convinced Wenger is looking for someone, because all along he has dropped hints about what types of players Arsenal are looking for and they pretty much rule out everyone. Think of it as a scavenger hunt or maybe even a snipe hunt.

  • The player in question must make an impact: he variously describes this as “top top quality” and “someone special”, forwards tend to make the most impact.
  • The player in question must either be disgruntled or play for a team in financial distress: you already know this, it’s nigh impossible to get a player who is happy from a rich team. Kun Aguero? Fuggetaboutit. Isco? Maybe. Cavani? Tough. Falcao? Really tough. Stefanos Athanasiadis? Sure, but see rule 1.
  • The player can’t be cup tied: not so sure why this is so critical to Wenger, Arshavin was cup tied when we bought him, could be a smoke screen.
  • Not from France: Wenger was unequivocal about this today “you can cut all the French players out [of your list]. Rules out Capoue and specifically Belhanda.
  • Not David Villa: “we are not on the case”.
  • Not Mats Hummels: “I can’t imagine Dortmund selling their defenders in the middle of the season”.
  • Not Diame: “we have not approached West Ham”.
  • “First want to get everyone healthy at the club”: this refers to Tomas Rosicky who it was confirmed is available for selection finally.
  • “Then want to get everyone playing to their potential”: this refers to a plethora of players, Diaby is the most oft cited here.
  • “We have two players in every position”: arguably incorrect, Szczesny-Mannone, Mertesacker-Vermaelen-Koscielny-Squillaci, Sagna-Jenkinson, Gibbs-Santos, Cazorla-Rosicky, Arteta-Coquelin-Diaby-Ramsey-Wilshere, Podolski-Gervinho-Arshavin, Walcott-Ox, Giroud… Podolski, Walcott, Gervinho?
  • Will buy a player if a top quality player comes up: highly unlikely.

I know that there are some twitterati who claim to be in the know about a £30m bid from Arsenal to some team in order to land someone named “Mario”.  I also know that everyone assumes that’s Mario Götze. Sure, why not. I like to dream. But given Wenger’s words, I’m highly doubtful.

Oh, and if you’re paying attention, you’ll notice that Wenger gave everyone a BINGO from the “I wish” square to the “not looking at anyone” today. Congratulations, you just won a can of squelch.


24 thoughts on “Arsene Wenger’s transfer snipe hunt

  1. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1DAWA

    I wrote in one of your blog early January that Wenger will not buy any player , that Arsenal and Wenger were deceit. Believe me what Arsenal have is “paper money” . Barely injury to players we will still be Champion League next season but will not win trophy this year.

  2. -6 Vote -1 Vote +1Nizam

    He won’t buy any quality player and believe me Arsenal will finish 8th. Out of the Europa League.
    He will cause Arsenal to stagnate if not decline further if he is still in charge next season.

  3. +3 Vote -1 Vote +1caribkid

    Great job as usual Tim and a few comments here:

    - Damn the Twitterati, once they broke the news it was all over. Wenger’s penchant for brilliant, surprise moves immediately took this off the map.

    - We still have a chance though as his innate love of drama and the unexpected could still see us land Bendtner from AC Milan at the last hour without undergoing a physical. This would be a coup de grâce as it ticks all the right boxes, Free, LANS, Surprise and EPL Experience.

  4. +4 Vote -1 Vote +1nycgunner

    When it comes to Wenger and the transfer market, I don’t even try anymore. I expect absolutely nothing and that’s the only way I can keep myself from going crazy. His latest comments about making it a priority to keep our current players healthy is a great example. What does that have to do with transfers? Last I checked Colin Lewin wasn’t doubling up as our physio and leading the scouting efforts. It’s completely non sensical but also par for course.

  5. Vote -1 Vote +1Yan

    Sorry to be off topic, but… why is there an ad “Buy Tottenham Tickets” on an Arsenal blog? Just curious.

    Re: transfers: meh. We have what we have, AW gambling again, squad is deep, Giroud will score more goals than RvP in the rest of the season, etc. etc.

    FA Cup final and 4th place are our target this season. Let’s go for them!

      1. Vote -1 Vote +1alabamagooner

        I don’t use AdBlock. I figure Tim deserves to get at least a little bit of revenue to compensate him for the time and money he devotes to hosting this blog. It probably doesn’t even cover his costs, and the ads aren’t that obtrusive. Just my opinion…not trying to tell anyone what they should or shouldn’t do.

  6. +6 Vote -1 Vote +1vino

    You have to question the way he has handled press conferences in January. It seems like he’s completely unaware of popular opinion (need players) and thinks it is just the media looking for a story.

    If you regard press conferences as a part of his job, and that he is supposed to be managing angry people’s expectations, he’s doing it terribly. There’s a big disconnect between him and the fans, he doesn’t seem to realise how frustrating his comments are. It just makes you think he’s out of touch with more than how to play down transfers.

  7. +5 Vote -1 Vote +1JV Mauer

    Just a small point. There’s nothing incosistent about being philosophically oppossed to the January transfer window and opperating within the rules of the game as they currently apply. I think a lot of people get confused by this. When asked his opinion on how things should be, I think Arsene is generally quite open and honest with his thoughts on what the ideal situation would be. Alas, the Platonic form is rarely observed existing on this shadowy plane.

  8. +7 Vote -1 Vote +1alabamagooner

    God I hate January. Honestly, I’m with Wenger on this one. I don’t like the idea of changing the make up of teams in the middle of the season. You should “dance with the one that brung you”, as we say. Seems sort of unfair to ask for a do-over on team composition halfway through the run.

    That being said, you are right that if this is going to be the rule, then we should use it just like everyone else does. It’s cutting off your nose to spite your face to refrain from buying in January because you don’t like the whole idea. I’m still not convinced that Wenger won’t pull one or two off late…but I don’t think it will be the end of the world if we don’t buy. *runs and hides from incoming fire*

  9. Vote -1 Vote +1Beastista

    “the only big name player I’ve seen him buy in January was Arshavin”

    Since no one has pointed my hero out yet, I would like to bring to your attention one Jose Antonio Reyes. Still ruefully wish that we made a special kit out of raincoats so that the poor guy was not so bothered by the weather.

    Call me silly, but I really thought he would take us to the next level. Sigh. At least we now have Podolski for me to idolize. Only left footed wingers would appreciate how difficult it is to connect with an Arsenal squad that has always had “inverted” wingers on the left.

    Anywhoo, given that Arshavin and Reyes were our record signings before Cazorla, overall, I would say Wenger does not really hate the all Jan windows. Remember one deadline day, we got Walcott, Adebayor and Diaby – imagine we still had all three. Well, except for Adebayor. ha.

    So he really doesn’t hate all January transfer windows. Just this one, I guess. I’ve given up listening to his press interviews this month, think I’m better off for it. Cheers!

      1. -1 Vote -1 Vote +1santori

        Just because he doesn’t like the jan transfer woindow doesn’t mean he won’t buy.

        Things are never so exclusive in life.

        In general, he is nebulous with possible buys when asked.

        However, if he mentions numbers, he generally follows through. In this case, it is 2.

        Diaby? LANS:D

    1. Vote -1 Vote +1Shard

      I thought of Reyes too. And like you, I think Reyes would have been the sort of signing to really push us on. Reyes was the reason that I think Wenger let Pires go (although he said he bought Rosicky to replace Pires) Reyes not being able to settle in England, combined with Rosicky’s injury, left us unbalanced in attack for a few years. Sad how things (don’t) work out sometimes.

      1. Vote -1 Vote +1Beastista

        Regarding Pires, he said stuff to the effect of being disenchanted when he was taken off after Mad Jens got sent off in the champs league final. He said it once he joined Villareal, I believe. I think he was more annoyed he was taken off for Almunia. Think about it – Manuel Almunia actually played in champs league final for Arsenal.

        Sign, Rosicky was also one of them. The deceptive turn of pace, ability to put in a belter from 20-25 yards – though he would be second coming of Pires. Note though, Pires never need to blast, even from 20. He would curl them in. Not enough curlers at Arsenal, that might be our problem. We should get more. The ones who are like Pires.

  10. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1Zeddington

    Frustratingly accurate, Tim. I was optimistic about this window because our deficiencies were there for all to see. Surely the manager could see them? While recent games have blurred that ever so slightly (Cazorla on the left opening the door to Poldi in the middle? Ramsey in the DM spot? The re-re-emergence of Coquelin as a decent player? Diaby possibly getting fit? Rosicky coming back into the team?), I think we still need an attacking player and a defensive midfielder (to say nothing of the upcoming need for both fullbacks, a centerback and a keeper).

    I was optimistic, not so anymore. I would’ve welcomed Gotze even though I’m not sure he’d fill a pressing need, but because he’s genuine class and would fit into the team. Note though, no name was attached to the initial tweets about the 30m bid, all the name were pure speculation from others. In any case, having watched potential candidates at DM go elsewhere (M’Vila to Russia, Mbiwa to Newcastle), I’m starting to feel maybe nothing will come after all. David Villa isn’t likely either. Is this squad really complete? Certainly not, but will it at least survive until the summer? Highly, highly unlikely. Hell, even Zaha, who I was very sceptical about all those months ago when rumors surfaced, now feels like we missed out on (although if the price really was 17m, I’m not bothered – sheesh!).

    Finally, even though we don’t buy stars in January, it’s worth reminding ourselves that we generally don’t buy stars – period. Hasn’t that been the Arsenal way of late? We have bought some players who became big in January, in line with our previous transfer strategies: Adebayor, Diaby, Walcott.

  11. +5 Vote -1 Vote +1ignatzuk

    I don’t get it. Just because he says he doesn’t like the transfer window doesn’t mean he hasn’t used it in the past, won’t use it now or won’t use it in the future.

    Personally I hate the transfer window because we all have to put up with endless wailing, gnashing of teeth and rending of garments because we haven’t bought a player. People, the transfer window is not over yet, the proper time to complain is after it is shut. And even then, it seems pretty clear to me that the club has been working hard to try to get some movement on their targets, whoever those targets are. It’s not fantasy football, the deals might not happen, it’s not just about money. If we can’t get who we want then maybe we just can’t and that’s all there is to it. Honestly what is there to complain about? Let’s just grow the fuck up.

    I’m sorry if this pisses anybody off, but quite frankly all the moaning pisses me off, so I guess we’re even. ;)

    /rant over

  12. Vote -1 Vote +11steved1

    In curious to know your other favo(u)rite Bingo square 7

    On a side just like to say ive noticed its been exactly 2 years I’ve been reading your blog. It’s become a habit to have my dinner around 6pm (BST) then read your post as that always seems to be the average time it’s there.

  13. Vote -1 Vote +1Shard

    Guessing your favourite Wenger quote..’We know of him’ , or ‘Buying doesn’t guarantee success’.

      1. Vote -1 Vote +1Shard

        Ok. Any particular reason for liking that one? It is quite funny though. ‘For people in England the solution is always to buy buy buy, but buying doesn’t guarantee success’ Haha.. See what I did there?

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