Arsène Wenger says Arsenal are close to bridging gap with Europe's best

Manager vows he will spend in the summer and does not rule out £40m bid for Falcao

Arsène Wenger has insisted that Arsenal are "not far away" from being as good as Bayern Munich, as he painted an optimistic image of the club's future at the end of a traumatic week.

Home defeats to Blackburn Rovers and Bayern Munich almost certainly mean an eighth consecutive season without a trophy but Wenger was in a positive mood yesterday morning, and said that Arsenal are now "in a stronger situation" financially to keep their best players and bring in high quality.

Wenger was sufficiently confident about Arsenal's current level and their future prospects to say that they are within reaching distance of the team that so outclassed them at the Emirates Stadium on Tuesday evening.

"It costs a lot of money, it costs intelligent work," Wenger said when asked what was needed to make up ground. "We are not so far when people think at the moment from Bayern. We need to be intelligent and strong in this period and keep a guideline of what we have done until now. Strengthen the team where in the positions we feel we are a bit weaker. But we have a basis of a team that is very strong for me."

Wenger believes Arsenal have a foundation from which to challenge Europe's best although he did seem to accept some who saw Tuesday's game might not agree.

"We are not far away," Wenger said. "It is difficult to convince you today. We have to be clever. I believe in some areas of our team we can compete with anybody in the world. We speak about the Wilsheres, the Cazorlas and we have a very strong technical basis but we have to be more efficient."

Arsenal have been outspent for years by their European rivals but Wenger said he was newly able to invest, with new commercial and kit deals coming next year, where appropriate. "I think, now, we are in a stronger situation where, like you say, we can spend some money," Wenger confirmed. "We went out to spend money at Christmas but we didn't find the players. If we find tomorrow a player of top, top, top quality, we will take him."

When asked whether Arsenal might be able to spend as much as £40m on a player like Radamel Falcao, Wenger confirmed it. "We can do it. If we can afford it, we will not say no."

Wenger denied he had a natural aversion to spending money. "I'm not reluctant to spend," he said. "First of all, we only had money recently. Secondly, in England there is a way of thinking that every problem is sorted out just by spending money but that's not always the case."

Now able to spend more, Wenger was confident Arsenal would be able to keep their good young players. "Yes, of course," he said when asked if Arsenal might be able to resist potential buyers. "You can only keep your best players, let's be realistic, by paying the wages of the market."

Wenger does not anticipate any departure for Jack Wilshere, who recently signed a new long-term deal. "I believe in the longer term Wilshere will be the leader of this club and lead the club to trophies," he said. "That's what it is about as well for the great players and we have to make sure they all stay here." Arsenal host Aston Villa today without Bacary Sagna, who has a knee injury.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: ‘We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon’, says Ed Balls

'We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon'

In an exclusive interview, Ed Balls says he won't negotiate his first Budget with SNP MPs - even if Labour need their votes to secure its passage
VE Day 70th anniversary: How ordinary Britons celebrated the end of war in Europe

How ordinary Britons celebrated VE Day

Our perception of VE Day usually involves crowds of giddy Britons casting off the shackles of war with gay abandon. The truth was more nuanced
They came in with William Caxton's printing press, but typefaces still matter in the digital age

Typefaces still matter in the digital age

A new typeface once took years to create, now thousands are available at the click of a drop-down menu. So why do most of us still rely on the old classics, asks Meg Carter?
Discovery of 'missing link' between the two main life-forms on Earth could explain evolution of animals, say scientists

'Missing link' between Earth's two life-forms found

New microbial species tells us something about our dark past, say scientists
The Pan Am Experience is a 'flight' back to the 1970s that never takes off - at least, not literally

Pan Am Experience: A 'flight' back to the 70s

Tim Walker checks in and checks out a four-hour journey with a difference
Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics - it's everywhere in the animal world

Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics

Voting, mutual back-scratching, coups and charismatic leaders - it's everywhere in the animal world
Crisp sales are in decline - but this tasty trivia might tempt back the turncoats

Crisp sales are in decline

As a nation we're filling up on popcorn and pitta chips and forsaking their potato-based predecessors
Ronald McDonald the muse? Why Banksy, Ron English and Keith Coventry are lovin' Maccy D's

Ronald McDonald the muse

A new wave of artists is taking inspiration from the fast food chain
13 best picnic blankets

13 best picnic blankets

Dine al fresco without the grass stains and damp bottoms with something from our pick of picnic rugs
Barcelona 3 Bayern Munich 0 player ratings: Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?

Barcelona vs Bayern Munich player ratings

Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?
Martin Guptill: Explosive New Zealand batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Explosive batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Martin Guptill has smashed early runs for Derbyshire and tells Richard Edwards to expect more from the 'freakish' Brendon McCullum and his buoyant team during their tour of England
General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'