Arsene Wenger hopes for level playing field with Manchester City

Arsenal boss hopes FFP will put a stop to big spenders

Arsène Wenger expressed hope yesterday that Uefa’s Financial Fair Play regulations had finally slowed the onslaught of Europe’s new-money teams, and that his club could now take on champions Manchester City, who they face in the Community Shield on Sunday.

Another summer, and another Arsenal player departing for the Etihad – this time the free agent Bacary Sagna. But Wenger said his club were now more competitive than ever with more than £60m committed on Alexis Sanchez, Calum Chambers, Mathieu Debuchy and David Ospina over the summer. It is significantly more than City have spent. The champions, hit by FFP restrictions, have thus far committed around £20m in fees.

The Frenchman starts the new season with greater optimism than last year as Arsenal have been able to more than hold their own in the transfer market.

“We are less vulnerable, for sure,” he said. “In the last two years we have bought [Mesut] Özil and [Alexis] Sanchez. Five years ago we would have lost Özil and Sanchez.”

The great financial project to build the Emirates Stadium has been navigated without failing to qualify for the Champions League, and Arsenal will learn today who they will play in their qualifier this month. The new contracts from shirt sponsors and new kit suppliers Puma have changed the economic picture, as well as the restrictions imposed by European governing body Uefa on City and Paris Saint-Germain last season. City have been restricted to naming a 21-man Champions League squad.

Asked whether he believed the picture was changing, Wenger said: “It looks like we are closer [to City] but they have some restrictions. There are clever people who help clubs get around that. Time will tell.

“It looks like these clubs are concerned by FFP. They [PSG] have not yet announced [the signing of Angel] Di Maria. It is still not done. That means they have a concern, these clubs, [in terms of] how to respect FFP.”

Wenger accepts the need to be realistic in regards to the progress Uefa can be expected to make with FFP. “We will see,” he said. “Uefa has lost power because of Europe, because you can have alternatives to go to court outside of Uefa and not everybody accepts the decisions from Uefa. Uefa has to be a bit cautious as well because of television’s financial power. If you kick a club like PSG out [of the Champions League] because they don’t respect FFP, the French TV companies will go to Uefa and say ‘Look, we want our money back’.”

Facing Sagna tomorrow will continue the tradition for Arsenal of coming up against their former players in City colours – including Kolo Touré, Emmanuel Adebayor, Samir Nasri and Gaël Clichy.

Wenger was typically philosophical about the player’s move to City. Why had Sagna left? “You should ask him that question. I made him a proposal to stay for three years and he chose City,” Wenger said. “It looks to me like he agreed it a long time before.”

Sagna signed a three-year deal at City on the £100,000-plus weekly wage that he had sought in vain from Arsenal. Was it a disappointment to see him, like many others, leave?

“Always,” Wenger said, “because he came here unknown and he made his career and became a French international. I respect Sagna because until the last day of his contract he was super-professional. After he decided to go somewhere else but he was ready to die on the football pitch to fulfil his contract. I’d have loved him to stay.”

The Arsenal manager confirmed Thomas Vermaelen was close to leaving the club, stating that Manchester United were among the interested parties. Fellow Arsenal centre-back Johan Djourou, who was on loan at Hamburg, has joined the German club on a permanent basis.

Suggested Topics
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvOnly remaining original cast-member to leave crime series
Frank Lampard and his non-celebration
premier leagueManchester City vs Chelsea match report from the Etihad Stadium
premier league
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Mario Balotelli celebrates his first Liverpool goal
premier leagueLiverpool striker expressed his opinion about the 5-3 thriller with Leicester - then this happened
people'I hated him during those times'
Britain's shadow chancellor Ed Balls (L) challenges reporter Rob Merrick for the ball during the Labour Party versus the media soccer match,
peopleReporter left bleeding after tackle from shadow Chancellor in annual political football match
Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says
tvSpoiler warning: Star of George RR Martin's hit series says viewers have 'not seen the last' of him/her
Dame Vivienne Westwood has been raging pretty much all of her life
peopleMemoir extracts show iconic designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Life and Style
fashionAlexander Fury's Spring/Summer 2015 London Fashion Week roundup
Arts and Entertainment
Lauryn Hill performing at the O2 Brixton Academy last night
musicSinger was more than 90 minutes late on stage in Brixton show
Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
people''Women's rights is too often synonymous with man-hating'
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam