Arsenal are still in the market and ready to spend big, according to Arsene Wenger who spoke to the press after Arsenal’s 1-1 pre-season draw against Lens on Friday.
Earlier this week, Arsenal CEO Ivan Gazidis spoke to ESPN FC and indicated that Arsenal could look to follow Leicester City’s successful recruitment model from last season and focus their efforts on players in lower divisions.
“Leicester identified players from the French second division, so maybe there’s talent that we’ve been overlooking. They did their talent identification [well], they had great unity within the group, as well as quality.
“It wasn’t built on money. It was built on the great fitness work they did. It was built on all of these other elements. I think that’s going to be a continuing trend within the Premier League.”
While it’s likely that Gazidis was attempting to be complementary of Leicester’s recruitment and was highlighting them as an example of one of many models to follow, his comments could easily be interpreted as an attempt to damper expectations of Arsenal’s transfer activity this next month and a half.
Cognizant of this, Wenger was quick to dispel those concerns, outlining Arsenal’s activity in the market and desire to complete further deals.
“I am sure that my chief executive didn’t want to dampen the expectations on that [the transfer market] front. We are very active. If we find the right candidates then we will spend the big money.”
When asked about specific targets, Wenger wouldn’t name names.
“I wouldn’t like to come out on names because if you don’t get them afterwards, people as why. We are active, very active every day and it’s not over. Today we are on July 22 and the transfer market finishes on August 31. You know that a lot happens in the last week, so it’s a long time to go, but we are active and we are working.”
Cynics would say that Wenger wouldn’t name any targets because there are none. But the emphasis the manager put on how active the club is indicates otherwise and it’s possible they are keenly participating in negotiations. At what stage those negotiations are at is not obvious.
Earlier today the club officially announced the signing of 20-year old center back Rob Holding from Bolton. In the club’s official statement, there was forewarning of further activity.
“We remain in the market, so stay close to Arsenal.com for any further transfer news.”
The statement above is a highly unusual one to make when announcing the signing of a player, especially for Arsenal who are notorious for being silent about their transfer dealings. And it’s no coincidence that after Gazidis’ comments, both Wenger and the club went to great lengths to discuss Arsenal’s transfer ambitions.
One thing that everyone is quite certain of is that Arsenal are trying to sign a striker. This week Inter Milan’s Mauro Icardi was closely linked to the Gunners. However, the player is currently negotiating a new deal with Inter and much of the noise came from Icardi’s agent/girlfriend, meaning Arsenal are likely being used as bait to secure higher wages from Inter. It’s well known that Arsenal are looking for a striker and they are one of few clubs that could offer Icardi higher wages than his current deal. They are an easy choice for anybody seeking to use a club to help their client get more money.
On Friday, the Guardian reported Arsenal might have renewed their interest in Lyon’s Alexandre Lacazette, with rumors circulating in France that the player has asked to leave his current club. A fee of £42 million has been quoted all summer for Lacazette but Lyon President Jean-Michel Aulas has continuously denied rumors linking the player with an exit.
When asked for comment on his client’s transfer status, Lacazette’s agent, David Venditelli, declined to provide any insight.
“We can not comment on the information that can appear in the press. We have decided with the player not to say anything at this time.”
Silence says a lot more than denial.