The Mirror’s Arsenal boffin, John Cross, has reported this week that Arsene Wenger is destined to sign a new contract, extending his tenure in North London beyond 20 years. And he is going to supplement this with a vast spending spree, in order to revamp his squad. But is this genuine? Or another case of déjà vu?
The rumours are that Wenger has finally seen the light, after injuries have ravaged his squad in 2014, and thus seen the Gunners drop away from the Premier League title race. With a budget of over £70 million to spend, the suggestion is that Wenger is looking to use as much of it as is necessary to improve on the good base he has currently got.
It is believed that a new striker, a right-back, a central midfielder, a wide attacking-midfielder, and a new goalkeeper are what he feels is necessary to keep the pace with Chelsea, Manchester City, and Liverpool.
This all may sound promising for Arsenal fans, if it wasn’t for the fact that this kind of news comes out towards the end of every season.
The club hierarchy have clearly placed a lot of their trust in Wenger, and are confident that he will stay and continue to guide the club to success. It may take until the end of the season for an announcement to be made, but there is a general consensus that Wenger won’t end his reign just yet unless the Gunners fail drastically toward the end of the season.
Whether Arsenal fans see this as a good thing or not, there is no question that every single one would be pleased to see the Gunners spend some money. They showed a sign of their potential in the summer when Wenger broke the club’s record transfer fee to bring in Mesut Ozil from Real Madrid.
But then doubts set in once more as Wenger didn’t take the opportunities that were presented to him in the January window, as he opted to turn down the chance to buy Schalke’s Julian Draxler.
So does it really ring true that Wenger is prepared to spend all this money available to him? For a long time he has been wary of making large-scale squad changes because of the potential imbalance this may cause to the squad. Wenger has placed a lot of faith in the players at his disposal, and he has the nucleus of a very good squad. To think that he is going to bring in five or six new faces to come in and challenge what he has built seems improbable.
For years now, Arsenal fans have been crying out for additions to the squad. But more often than not, Wenger has dithered during the summer. The summer of 2011 saw Gervinho signed from Lille early on, only for Wenger to wait until the last two days of the window to bring in replacements for the departed Cesc Fabregas, Samir Nasri, and Gael Clichy. A last-minute trolley dash saw Wenger bring in first-team regulars Per Mertesacker and Mikel Arteta – both regarded as successful moves – as well as Park Chu-Young and Andre Santos, as well as Chelsea loanee Yossi Benayoun.
The signings of Mertesacker and Arteta somewhat offset the failures of Park and Santos, while Benayoun was a nice addition who contributed in a difficult season. But, on the whole, this period of Arsenal’s history isn’t remembered fondly. So the only time the Arsenal boss has opted to make numerous additions, it didn’t go down well.
At 64-years-old it seems unlikely Wenger is going to change his ways. The club is in need of extra quality. And Le Professeur probably knows this. But regarding rumours of a big summer spend, Arsenal fans will take with a pinch of salt. It will take a lot for Gooners to believe such stories. And it may take even more for Wenger to change the habits of a lifetime.