Amid all the recent speculation about Arsenal players leaving the Emirates to join other European clubs this summer, came stories in the press that manager Arsene Wenger is basically ruling out any departures by first-team members this off-season.
Quoted in The Telegraph on Tuesday, Wenger said he does not want to sell off any players and intends to complete all of his business in the transfer window before the Arsenal squad return for pre-season training on July 6.
“We lost Hleb and Flamini last summer and we have had to rebuild,” said Wenger. “But we have done that now and the future looks bright. We don’t want to have to rebuild again so I want to keep all the players together for next season. I don’t want to lose anyone.
“I want to add to the squad and I have identified one or two targets. But identifying players and buying them are two different things. Ideally I would like to bring everybody in before we start back in pre-season training in July. I don’t want to leave it until the end of August.”
Wenger also plans to vary his team’s formation in the coming season, according to an article by Darren Lewis in Tuesday’s Daily Mail. “Next season we will play the formation and system that most suits the players and the balance of the team,” said Wenger. “That means it’s not rigid. It can evolve throughout the season, depending on circumstances and personnel.
“If you play with Theo Walcott for example, you are more tempted to go for three midfielders because Theo is more of a forward than a midfielder in a 4-4-2.”
Calling on supporters to keep faith in his methods, Wenger added that, “We are at a stage where we need to convince people that this team does a lot of things right. It does not need to be transformed. When you go on a long unbeaten run in the Premier League and reach two semifinals, common sense should tell you that.”
Even with that, there have been remarks by fans and pundits alike calling for personnel changes. And the rumor mill has seen some of Arsenal’s stars being linked to other teams. Cesc Fabregas, Kolo Toure, Robin van Persie, Emmanuel Adebayor and even Nicklas Bendtner have been reported to possibly be on the move, but player rebuttals and reports of renewed contracts have come out since.
Just today, Fabregas reiterated his commitment to Arsenal after again being linked to clubs in Spain based on some of his comments after his national side lost to the U.S. in the semifinals of the Confederations Cup on Wednesday.
“For anyone who is unclear or may have misunderstood what my position is, let me make myself absolutely crystal clear,” read a statement from Cesc on the club’s official web site. “I am wholeheartedly committed to Arsenal and my future lies with this great club.”
Bendtner has played down any reported links to Roma that surfaced after he was spotted in Rome on holiday. And van Persie is close to renewing his contract with Arsenal. In fact, the Daily Mirror reported Wednesday that the Dutch forward has agreed to terms on a new deal to stay in North London, a fact not yet officially noted on the club’s site.
The article from the Daily Mirror’s John Cross also mentions that “Wenger is now closing in on Bordeaux forward Marouane Chamak, who is his No.1 target to replace Emmanuel Adebayor,” which is interesting to read as seeing how Adebayor has not even left the club — at least not yet.
There has, of course, been plenty of rumor and speculation that the Togo striker would be heading away from Arsenal. AC Milan have certainly expressed an interest for Togo international Adebayor in the past, but even officials at the Italian club admit such a move might not occur.
“We had a meeting with Wenger, but they didn’t offer him (Adebayor) to us,” said AC Milan club administrator Adriano Galliani, in an article seen on soccernet.com. “Had they done that, we would have entered talks.”
So, maybe supporters can believe the comments about no first-team departures from Wenger, who thinks his team will continue to grow and build on this past season. “We just missed that final step, but I believe the team are getting that now as it becomes more mature,” said the Frenchman. “The team has matured tactically a lot over the season, and they are ready to challenge on all fronts next season.”