Arsenal AGM: Arsene Wenger pledges to strengthen Gunners defence in January transfer window

The manager is understood to have £20m available for the purposes of strengthening his backline

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Arsène Wenger, the Arsenal manager, said he would “try to buy” a defender in January after being confronted by frustrated fans and shareholders demanding to know why he had not done so during the summer.

At the club’s Annual General Meeting, the room burst into applause when the manager was angrily asked why the defence had not been strengthened over the summer. Wenger was very open about his desire to sign a defensive player during the close season but a deal never materialised. Chambers did arrive from Southampton, but primarily as a full-back.

Wenger admitted: “We could have bought one more player but we didn’t find one. We will try in January to rectify that because we are a bit short because of the injuries that we had. Overall I think we will rectify that in the transfer market in January.”

It is understood that around £20m will be handed to Wenger for the purposes of strengthening the defence. Arsenal’s finances show tens of millions of pounds available that supporters claim should be invested in the squad.

The club’s chief executive, Ivan Gazidis, avoided going into the specifics but stressed the club has to keep a “substantial amount of cash in reserve at all times to keep in line with our debt obligations.

“There is quite a lot of inaccurate and superficial analysis about the cash that we have available,” added Gazidis. “That leads to stories we are hoarding a vast cash balance and that is simply not the case. It’s quite untrue that the club is sitting on some cash pile it refuses to use for some unspecified reason.”

The Arsenal chairman, Sir Chips Keswick, made it very clear that no one is preventing Wenger from buying the players he thinks the club needs. “Don’t let’s be in a muddle about who calls the shots about football at Arsenal,” he said. “It is not the chairman, it is not the fans, it is Mr Arsène Wenger.”