Arsenal's largest shareholder - and the man who holds the balance of power at the club - said yesterday that Arsene Wenger would be given all the resources he asked for this in this summer's transfer market. Danny Fiszman said, however, that it would be a "big talent" rather than a "big name" that his club sought in the transfer market.
Fiszman, who owns 24.11 per cent of Arsenal, said that the club had "never said no" to Wenger and "have no intention of saying no to him [now]". The club have already identified the Marseille midfielder Samir Nasri as a target and he could cost as much as pnds11m but it does not appears that they will be in the hunt for any of the biggest earners in European football.
Fiszman is a crucial figure in orchestrating the current five-year lockdown agreement among the Arsenal board that prevents any of them selling shares to facilitate a potential takeover - chief among them the Uzbek billionaire Alisher Usmanov whose acquisition of shares has stalled on 23 per cent. Fiszman said: "Whoever he [Wenger] wishes to bring in, he will be fully supported. There is no set amount. I think it is about big talents and committed players."
The departure of Mathieu Flamini on a free transfer to Milan this month was not, Fiszman claimed, a result of the club failing to compete with the top wages. "We made a substantial offer to Mathieu, it was considerable and in line with our wage structure but he chose to go elsewhere," he said. "We wish him luck. You say 'We don't pay the wages that other teams do'. If you look at our total wage costs you will see they are virtually the same as Manchester United and substantially more than Liverpool.
"Of course we are all a little less than Chelsea who are in a world of their own. But compared to United and Liverpool we are good payers. We believe it is a team sport and we do well but we don't want the disparity between the top and bottom earner being too big. It takes 11 people on the pitch to deliver."
Fiszman did not go into detail over the sacking of managing director Keith Edelman but he did say that there would not be a new "director of football" to take over from David Dein who was forced out in April last year. He also brushed off the need for a new investor such as Usmanov, who bought Dein's shares, to move the club on.
Fiszman said: "We don't believe in the benefactor model. It is not a question of a one-time infusion of cash to buy a player. You actually then have salaries that are connected to the players. What if they don't work out? Do you go and buy another two or three players? Is there any end to it? So I think everybody, including Chelsea, knows there are limits."