Arsene Wenger, the Arsenal manager, said yesterday that Manchester City are engaging in risk-free transfer spending ahead of tonight's match at the Emirates Stadium between the two teams. City are close to signing Bosnian striker Edin Dzeko, having agreed a £27m fee with Wolfsburg, and Wenger claimed that while the fee would be a gamble for other clubs, City's wealth means that it is a safe move for them.
"You look at the number of players who cost £20m who do not even get on the bench at Man City, and £27m is not a risk," Wenger said. "It is a risk for me, not for them. The risk is linked – if you have £100 in your pocket and you put £90 on a blackjack table you take a risk. If you have £5m in your pocket and put £90 on a blackjack table it is not a risk. The risk is linked with the amount of money you have in your pocket, so £27m is not a risk for Man City."
Even then, Wenger described the agreed fee as a "sales price" for a player about whom he was very complimentary. He admitted a previous interest in signing Dzeko, during his first season after joining Wolfsburg in the Bundesliga from Czech side Teplice in 2007, but said that he was "too expensive" at the time.
Dzeko was compared by Wenger to Manchester United's Dimitar Berbatov. "I see Dzeko a little bit like a Berbatov type. A guy who can be technically astute, with physically good power," Wenger explained. "At the moments he appears, he is decisive. He chooses his moments. He is very strong in the air as well, that's one of his great qualities."
He was sufficiently impressed with Dzeko to say that he was a "super player", for whom there would never be a realistic price because of the profile of clubs interested in him. "There is no realistic market. You know why? Because Bayern Munich can as well put £30m on the table. And Real Madrid as well. You have always one club who has the potential to do it. That's why for the super player, there is no realistic market. For the normal player, there is a realistic market because he will not interest the club with the massive potential, but the super player can be of interest to Inter Milan, Real Madrid, Man City."
Wenger failed to deny suggestions that he had previously rejected an approach to manage City. When asked, he said "that is certainly not a thing that I want to speak about the day before the game. I never came out with who wanted to sign me, and I will never tell you because it's disrespectful to the people who are in charge."
The current manager of Manchester City, Roberto Mancini, said that he felt his side might lack the necessary experience to maintain a title challenge. "The other teams are more used to staying there long term", Mancini said. "That's normal. For us it is to important to try to win every game against every team. We must continue to win and to improve, this must be our target. But this year is strange. Last year, only three teams could win the title. This year, there are five. It is good for supporters, for us.
"Every week the situation can change at the top. At the moment [Manchester] United have two games in hand but things can change very quickly. Yet Arsenal, Chelsea, Man United and Tottenham have more experience that us to win a title, but we want to stay there. We want to improve and to win our next game."
City's chances of tonight avenging the 3-0 defeat at Eastlands to Arsenal in October have been hit by the news that midfielder David Silva has joined Mario Balotelli on the sidelines with a knee injury. Silva has impressed in his brief time in English football so far, and Mancini hopes to have him back for the Wolves match on 15 January. "David's been an important player for us and has been doing well recently," Hopefully, he will be back for Wolves."