Everyone seems to be amazed at the way Arsenal is spending at the moment. They seem to think there is something wrong with the prudent Arsene Wenger who has in the past been described as a miser but has Wenger really changed?
Before Wenger took over the Arsenal reigns, he already had an influence in the signing of Viera to Arsenal. A raft of other signings followed over the years from Anelka, Henry, Pires, Ljungberg and Gilberto Silva. Signing Sol Campbell on a free transfer from Tottenham was a major coup for Wenger. We can argue all day on the signings that made it at Arsenal and those that flopped but one has to admit Wenger at this time used to do his transfer business early in the season.
Wenger signed Jose Antonio Reyes from Sevilla in January 2004 and followed that up with the signing of Robin Van Persie in May 2004. However, when Arsenal started building The Emirates stadium, money became scarce and Wenger never made a secret of this fact. Most managers would have left during this period so you can only give credit to Wenger for sticking by the club.
He had to place his faith in youth to replace his best players. The best example is Cesc Fabregas who became the heartbeat of the team following Viera’s transfer to Juventus. Others have been Clichy who became Arsenal’s left back after Ashley Cole left the club. Of course since then there has been a raft of signings like Tomas Rosicky, Eduardo Da Silva, Emmanuel Adebayor and Alexander Hleb who have had varying degrees of success in the club.
What Arsenal fans really wanted to see were major signings that would help Arsenal win titles at the club and bring back the glory days but no such luck. We came close on numerous occasions reaching the finals of Champions League, FA cup and even the League cup while coming very close to winning the Premier League before Eduardo broke his leg. Frustration among fans was evident with the main perception that Wenger was refusing to spend. No one faulted an aging Thierry Henry for leaving the club in pursuit of Champions League glory as he simply could not wait for the young guns to mature as players. Still Wenger persisted with buying young players such as Theo Walcott while the rest of the top clubs continued to buy established players.
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It is worth noting when Wenger brought Mesut Ozil to the club on 2nd September 2013, he said clearly for the first time that he now has money to spend. This season he has backed that statement up by bringing in established players early while the young players are now mature enough to produce a sustained challenge of the Premier League title. Good things come to those who wait and Arsenal fans have been a patient lot who are now being rewarded for their patience. Hopefully, the perception that Wenger does not like to spend has been put to bed once and for all.