Arsene Wenger yesterday called into question the probity of the loan system that has enabled Emmanuel Adebayor to join Tottenham Hotspur this week, as his own transfer dealings were thrust into the public sphere by Bolton Wanderers.
The Arsenal manager is facing a hectic last five days of the transfer window but he was on feisty form again yesterday ahead of tomorrow's trip to Old Trafford, with another barb in the direction of Manchester City. Last season's FA Cup winners have struck a deal with Spurs this week to subsidise Adebayor's wages and also look set to let Craig Bellamy leave for nothing.
Asked about the loan agreement, Wenger said: "I'm not very happy with that system as well. Somewhere it doesn't respect the 25-player rule. If it's for young players who need experience, it's different, because [on the other hand] you can own half of the league at the end of the day and give them out to where it suits you."
Ahead of tomorrow's game, Wenger has a late fitness test planned for Thomas Vermaelen but is confident that Laurent Koscielny and Johan Djourou will both be available in the centre of defence for Arsenal.
It has been Wenger's pursuit of Gary Cahill of Bolton Wanderers that has attracted the most controversy over the last 24 hours. Bolton manager Owen Coyle described a £6m bid by Arsenal as less than "derisory".
The Bolton chairman Phil Gartside went one step further when he re-tweeted a message from a fan that accused Arsenal of "taking the piss"; told the club they could "fuck right off" and was personally abusive to Wenger. Gartside later deleted the message from his Twitter account but not before it had been seen by Arsenal and reporters.
Wenger claimed that the £6m figure bid for Cahill was "wrong" although he refused to say how much his club had offered. Asked if it might even have been less, he joked: "You know me quite well!" Wenger said: "It [the £6m figure] is completely wrong and nothing to do with how much we rate the player. I believe every negotiation is between two parties and you only have to sell the player if you are alright with the price. In this case, the information [fee] is below what has been spoken about."
On Gartside's re-tweet, he said: "If that is his problem he can endorse what he wants. I can tell you it is not true. You can believe Gartside or you can believe me but... I can just tell you that's not right. It's not the truth and if Gartside can say I am lying, I am ready to confront him."
Wenger acknowledged that his club are still looking for a striker with Nicklas Bendtner set to leave and Marouane Chamakh out for a month for the African Nations in the new year. He said that, although Sir Alex Ferguson had added Ashley Young, David De Gea and Phil Jones to his squad – as well as promoted younger players – he thought it might be the older hands who play tomorrow.
"They [re-] generated quite well compared to last year. But there are still some good, experienced weapons on the bench. Last Sunday, when they made the changes, they had still Berbatov and Giggs coming on and Carrick and Park. And I would not be surprised if all these players start against us.
"They are the favourites, yes, because they won it last year and they do not look weaker. So it is up to us to make sure they do not win it. I try to strengthen the squad in depth because, at the moment, we are a bit short, number-wise. But if we get two or three players in, we have the quality to challenge them."
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