Rejection is part of life and Arsène Wenger does not let it get him down. Arsenal play their third game of the season early this afternoon with still just one signing added to last year’s squad. Wenger has tried and failed and tried and failed and, while so many of the supporters are clearly livid, the manager is more relaxed.
“That can happen, you know” shrugged Wenger, when asked how he would feel if Liverpool’s Luis Suarez joined Real Madrid instead – just as Gonzalo Higuain signed for Napoli rather than Arsenal. “You have certainly tried to go out with a girl and find she has chosen someone else. You do not commit suicide.”
Of course, Wenger is right, that resources are finite and Arsenal cannot sign everyone. But just because they cannot buy everyone does not mean that they are right to buy no one, and Arsenal are in a far weaker position than they ought to be with just 10 days of the window left. The only arrival so far has been Yaya Sanogo, the free transfer from Auxerre, while the second – in the next few days – will be Mathieu Flamini, costing the same. Prudence is laudable but with money in the bank and holes in the team this is purism.
Wenger admitted his frustration yesterday over the pursuit of Suarez, for whom Arsenal bid more than £40m in the hope it would trigger a release clause. When asked whether Arsenal had been wrongly informed, Wenger could not deny it. “We have to get on with our lives – I don’t think we need for me to clarify that.”
So, Arsenal go into the final stretch of the transfer window still not having done the necessary work. No top-class centre-forward, no reinforcements in defence, no experienced goalkeeper, no imposing holding midfielder. Negligent enough in any year but so much worse in the summer of the promised “escalation of financial firepower”.
And, like a student cramming on the eve of the exam, Arsenal are left desperately trying to make up ground their better-prepared rivals did long ago, even though Wenger insisted yesterday “you would be surprised how early we acted”.
Only now, then, do Arsenal look like making their final moves. There will be another bid for Newcastle’s Yohan Cabaye, even though classy midfielders is one area where they are well-stocked.
The priorities are the Real Madrid pair Karim Benzema and Angel di Maria, but even there they are at the seller’s mercy: only if Madrid sign Suarez and Gareth Bale are they likely to part with them. Wenger – seemingly more relaxed about Arsenal’s position than anyone else – conceded that, for these targets at least, they were not in whole control of their situation and said: “That is part of the fact you need three agreements for anybody. It’s true that it is sometimes connected with other clubs. But we have to accept that.”