Newcastle vs Arsenal: Arsene Wenger claims demise of FFP lets super-rich corner the transfer market

Spending on players this summer has been enormous - but not at Arsenal

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The Independent Online

Asked what had become of financial fair play, Arsène Wenger’s reply was short and to the point: “It has become gone.”

Uefa announced in May it would relax its flagship policy to allow for more owner investment, following complaints from Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain, the two clubs who had faced the most severe penalties for breaching the rules.

The Arsenal manager’s comments come as Chelsea consider breaking their own sizeable transfer record to land Paul Pogba, and were willing to spend £35m on Everton’s central defender John Stones, and Manchester City appear ready to part with £54m for Kevin De Bruyne, deemed surplus to requirements by Chelsea two years ago.

“I have seen the signs coming from Uefa for a while now,” Wenger said. “I thought for a while it would happen but now it is not possible.”

Arsenal, in the Wenger years, have spent within their means and there was a feeling at the club that a meaningful financial fair play regime would allow the club to re-enter European football’s very top tier, currently occupied solely by teams whose finances bear no relation to conventional business.

“What’s happened is the clubs threatened to go to civil court, not only through sporting channels. That brought a lot of insecurity in the decision making of Uefa so they started to soften the rules a little bit,” added Wenger.

“The decision about Paris Saint-Germain in July, and then Manchester City, opened completely the door.”

Arsenal’s position, he said, was “exactly the same. We continue to run our business with the resources we create. We can always create the resources, and then they can put a hundred or two hundred million on top. It is always like that. Maybe it will change here one day.”

 

In recent years, Arsenal’s policy has changed. Their best players are no longer leaving and expensive world-class talent has arrived, in the shape of Mesut Özil, Alexis Sanchez and Petr Cech.

But that is one signing per summer. Last season Arsenal were shown not to have the same firepower as their more realistic rivals for the title. Manchester City have already brought in Raheem Sterling and Nicolas Otamendi, at vast expense, and are probably not done yet. Chelsea have added  Radamel Falcao and Pedro, with almost certainly more to come.

Wenger said Arsenal were “not close to signing anyone” but merely hopeful a “situation will arise” in the next few days that allows them to sign someone. Their position is difficult. Arsenal have a very talented squad, with more attacking options probably than anyone in the Premier League. What they need is a small number of truly world-class players, and these are simply not available.

“I’ve said to you all the time it is not a shortage of money,” Wenger said. “We have the resources. It is just a shortage of players.”

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