Arsene Wenger has never been one for spending major money in transfer windows and up until Mesut Ozil’s £42 million signing in 2013, Arsenal’s highest transfer fee was the rumoured £15 million paid for Andrey Arshavin. But is Wenger still taking the right approach by not spending big money, in a market that is seeing clubs pay an average of £50 million for the best players worldwide.
Football agent Mino Raiola, who conducted the deal that saw Paul Pogba return to Manchester for a world record £89 million this summer, has been critical of Arsene Wenger’s financial tactics. Wenger suggested in the summer how difficult it was to find a player who was actually worth his value, in a modern overpriced market and you now realise how hard it must have been for Arsenal to complete deals for Mustafi and Xhaka for the prices they did. Raiola believes that Arsenal do not have ‘balls’ or the guts, to take a chance on signing a player of Paul Pogba’s quality, for such a high price, however in my opinion, interested or not in Pogba, Arsenal were right to steer clear of paying such prices for any player this summer.
In a report by the Daily Express, Raiola is quoted as saying: “It’s not just a case of spending the money. It’s shouldering the responsibility and saying ‘yes, this is my man’. Arsenal have the money, but do they have the balls? I respect Arsene Wenger. He has a philosophy that says the figures [I am paid] don’t match what I do, but that’s okay. I know Wenger likes Pogba but the price Juventus set for him doesn’t fit his philosophy.”
There’s a few things I want to pick at regarding Raiola’s comments. First off we are all aware that Arsenal have the money in the bank to spend and even though it can be so frustrating when Wenger doesn’t spend the money, it’s more of a case of not spending ANYTHING, rather than breaking the bank. Arsenal spent £17 million, £30 million and £35 million for different players this summer if reports on fees are to be believed. Of course those amounts are certainly not cheap, but I’m glad that Wenger hasn’t had to spend ‘extortionately’, ie over £50-60 million on one player, in a current market where that is very much the norm for the world’s biggest clubs.
Although it would have been good to see the likes of Higuain this year or Benzema from last season, I personally am glad Wenger stuck with his philosophy of not overspending in this crazy market. Can you imagine paying upmost of £80 million for Higuain this summer? He definitely wouldn’t be worth it. As for Paul Pogba, I have no doubt that Raiola’s client will become one of the very best, but I am glad that Arsenal didn’t subdue themselves to paying such ridiculous money on single transfers this summer.
Of course money talks these days and to get the best players, you have to pay the price demanded, however you don’t always have to have the best players to come out as worthy winners. Look how Leicester beat the squads of Arsenal, City, United and Chelsea to the league title last season, squads that are worth from three times to ten times as much as their own. Although having the best squad obviously helps, you need far more than a bunch of talented players to win a trophy and I’m glad Arsene Wenger hasn’t caved into ‘buying the league’ as the saying goes.
Let’s just remember there’s a reason for why Arsenal, as well as many other clubs and managers are not fond of some football agents, because it is agents demanding more and more money for their clients that is one of the reasons behind why finances in football are skyrocketing.