Arsene Wenger has revealed his regret at the player sales over the years, suggesting his unhappiness at the Arsenal board’s money-hunger ways, as he believes he built a solid, all conquering side before the mass exodus of star names.
The Frenchman is under intense scrutiny of late after a new low for his new-look side that were knocked out of their best shot of silverware by League Two’s Bradford City.
The team that played in the Capital One Cup had largely been built over the past couple of seasons with the likes of Mertesacker, Szczesny, Arteta, Cazorla, Gervinho, Podolski, Oxlade-Chamberlain and even Wilshere in only their first/second playing season with Wenger. Their lack of understanding between one another was apparent with the Gunners failing to overcome a fourth tier team with a ‘full’ strength side.
Wenger has his work cutout as he has started from scratch with the likes of Van Persie, Song, Nasri and Fabregas ripping out the heart of the squad with their respective exits, and is he is worried with the trend of star players exiting the club.
The Frenchman reportedly said:
My regret is that we already had a great team two or three years ago which could compete on four fronts.
We just missed out in the Champions League against Barcelona [in the last-16 tie in 2011], when we could have scored in the last minute, and then we just missed out on the Premier League too.
But you could feel the potential was there, and I thought, ‘Okay, let’s do this together’. Then the team split up, sometimes after five or six years’ work, it is frustrating, you have to start all over again.
We have lost recent players earlier in their careers – to lose Van Persie, Fabregas, Nasri and Song in just two years, it is a massive amount of potential, of course you worry.
The worrying factor Wenger is not only the fact that Song was sold needlessly, Van Persie went to a rival when he could’ve been kept for his season, but the lack of investment in replacements. We sell Van Persie for £22m and buy Giroud for £13m, we don’t replace Alex Song, we sell Fabregas and Nasri for an approximate total of £55m and fail to buy either or both of Juan Mata and Eden Hazard who would’ve easily filled the departed duo’s boots.
But it is now in the past and to stop it happening again in the future Wenger needs to get tough with the board and make sure Walcott is not sold this winter, otherwise the generation that Wenger started building three-four years ago will be extinct.
With Le Professeur under such intense pressure at present the media are naturally searching for successors for the Frenchman, and goal.com believe Pep Guardiola is a high possibility with sources suggesting Arsenal is at the top of the list for the former Barcelona manager.
The Spaniard is currently on a year sabbatical in New York and is expected to pick up a new position next season, with the likes of Chelsea keen on his services as well as European giants AC Milan, Inter Milan, Bayern Munich and Paris Saint-Germain. But apparently Arsenal is his preference with Chelsea a too unstable environment for the former Barca star.
A source told Goal.com:
Guardiola’s preference in England is Arsenal, the club are aware he would be interested in the job in 2013.
Guardiola doesn’t want to go to Chelsea. He is worried about the lack of stability. He also has a good relationship with Wenger dating back to when he started doing his coaching badges at Arsenal.
The Spaniard is certainly at the top of most Gooner’s wish list to replace Wenger, he won an incredible 14 trophies in four seasons with the Catalan giants, however with the team he inherited it is not surprising. The main factor would be his long-term commitment and whether he would be willing to sign a lengthy contract as he only took one year deals at Barcelona. Also, surely he would only sign with Arsenal if he is given free reign in the transfer market and not a few pennies while he is told to make a profit on player sales every summer.
I still think that replacing Wenger isn’t the answer, but more investment in the squad, less/no star player sales and smarter buys – not cheaper alternatives of Hazard such as Gervinho. What a flop that deal is turning out to be.