Breaking Wenger’s rules is necessary

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger

Arsene Wenger loves to complain, and he loves to suggest that the world is conspiring against his young guns. Year on year his gripes seem to increase and this pre-season is no exception. Arsenal’s tour of China and Malaysia has been peppered with outbursts. First Xavi, then the issue of Manchester City’s stadium-naming rights and now Roberto Mancini himself is in the firing line. Wenger is desperately shielding his assets, swinging out at as the vultures circle above Fabregas and Nasri.

His latest rebuke, aimed at the Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini, was a lesson in etiquette. Mancini admitted that he hoped to sign Nasri by the end of the month but said it would be difficult because he’s under contract at Arsenal. Wenger’s response was this: “This comment is out of order… I cannot say otherwise. These comments are not allowed. They are against the basic rules of football and he should be informed [of that].“

But is Arsene right? No. Roberto Mancini was particularly careful to mention that Nasri was an Arsenal player. Of course Mancini is playing the system, allowing the press to talk up the move and making it clear he is interested but unless he has tapped up Nasri, he is well within his rights to want him and to do so publicly. Nasri has made no secret of the fact that he is considering his future at Arsenal, and is clearly encouraging suitors. Unsurprisingly, he has some.

Arsene Wenger still holds all the cards, so he has no need to complain. Of course the statement is likely to unsettle Nasri and can be considered a cheeky, slightly dirty move, but Wenger knows that football is a dirty business.

Nasri’s contract status and his non-committal attitude make him a legitimate target. Where would the glorious world of transfer rumours be if managers weren’t allowed to comment on other players? Mancini has taken care to stress that Nasri is an Arsenal player as all mangers do nowadays. The line ‘I couldn’t comment on him because he’s at this club but I’d love to have him here…” is par for the course nowadays. It’s not exactly subtle but it’s all an important part of the transfer merry-go-round.

In fairness, Wenger has always been careful not to mention names, but his own rules are not the same as the basic rules of football.