Following last season’s disappointing campaign, pressure is yet again mounting upon Arsene Wenger to end the club’s five-year trophy drought. Whilst he must be admired for his idealistic virtues, Wenger’s ‘prudent’ transfer policy has been lambasted by some sections of the club’s fans as the reason behind the side’s inability to land silverware. Since winning the FA Cup in 2005, Wenger has failed to spend more than £15m on one single player, with their main rivals all managing to do so (often repeatedly) during the same period. Unsurprisingly, players and fans alike have been perturbed by this perceived lack of ambition, with many urging Wenger to ‘splash the cash’ this summer. Can Arsene Wenger afford to ignore such calls this summer?
With captain Cesc Fabregas’ Arsenal future hanging in the balance, and the Premier League ascension and spending power of City and their fierce North London rivals, Wenger’s quest to prevent a sixth straight trophy less campaign could be harder than ever. Although he has secured the signings of Marouane Chamakh and Laurent Koscielny, neither signing has managed to inspire the confidence and excitement amongst fans that a more heralded, ‘marquee’ player would manage to achieve.
Whilst both Francis Jeffers and Jose Antonio Reyes represent Wenger’s chequered past with big-money signings, the signing of Andrei Arshavin in January 2009 demonstrated the value of spending big money on players in their prime. Although the mercurial Russian endured a difficult second season at the Emirates, no-one can deny the extraordinary impact that he had upon his arrival at the club.
Undoubtedly, the major story amongst Gunners fans this summer is the future of talismanic club captain Cesc Fabregas. Unlike the exits of Kolo Toure and Thierry Henry, Fabregas’ exit this summer, should it happen, would represent the first time in recent years that Arsene Wenger has let go of a world-class player before he has reached the peak of his powers.
Speaking about the reasons behind Fabregas’ impending departure, former Arsenal winger Perry Groves highlighted Wenger’s cautious transfer policy as a key factor, stating “With Cesc it is not about being greedy or money but ambition. It is all about trophies. He can see Arsenal are a fair way from Manchester United and Chelsea and Arsene Wenger needs to sign about four players in the summer.”
Dutch striker Robin van Persie, Arsenal’s most talented forward, is thought to have drawn admiring glances from Real Madrid and Wenger will be looking to fight off the Spanish side’s advances. With the club mockingly derided in some quarters as a ‘selling club’, spending big in the transfer market would allow Arsene Wenger the opportunity to visibly demonstrate ambitious intent to both players and fans. Whilst such a signing would inevitably increase the quality available at Wenger’s disposal, such a signing would also help Wenger keep his top players and attract more quality talent to the club. With Premier League stakes higher than ever, surely Wenger cannot afford not to take a transfer gamble this summer.
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