Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Wenger’s profit comments require more examination

Morning all, some interesting quotes from Arsene Wenger appeared in a Belgian newspaper yesterday. For those that wish to cream yourselves on the bits about Eden Hazard, he had this to say:

I like him a lot, and for several reasons. His creativity, his ability to unbalance the opposition, his vision and his consummate art of giving the final ball make him a player coveted by many.

Hazard has the right profile to play at a top level club, and Arsenal is a top level club.

To be fair to the manager, he was asked straight out by the reporter if Hazard was a player he liked. I’m not sure what other kind of answer he could have given.

“Nah, all this talk of Hazard makes me laugh. He’s no Amaury Bischoff, is he?”

What he said about Arsenal’s requirement for profit each year was more interesting though. We got a glimpse of the frugal Arsene when he spoke about the manager’s duty to pay what he feels is the right price for a player, but then said this:

You have to know that at every season’s start, Arsenal must imperatively make a profit of between £15m and £20m. I’d add to that that one of the missions of a coach is to always buy at a price he judges to be right.

He doesn’t specifically say that this profit should come from transfers but when you’re talking about ‘season’s start’ as opposed to ‘financial year’ then it seems that this is the inference being made. If that is the case, whether it’s an edict from above, or just a measure of the club’s financial situation, then it would certainly go some way explain the manager’s reluctance/inability to dip into the transfer market this January.

Yet, it’s one line in an interview which really needed the reporter to follow up it. I mean, the obvious questions would be, “Why do Arsenal need to make this profit? Don’t Arsenal have a lot of money in the bank? How does this tally with this need for profit? And what happens if Arsenal don’t make that kind of surplus at the season’s start?”

It’s curious too that Arsene has decided to provide this information to the foreign press with whom he has seemed more open and willing to share information in recent times. For example, there was the recent interview in L’Equipe. Perhaps, if the blokes from Sky and beyond didn’t waste time at press conferences asking him about irrelevances such as bin bags, we might get better copy from him.

I hope it’s something that’s followed up because as it stands we don’t really know the context of the remark, whether it was just something said as a matter of fact or if this is information Arsene wants to get out there to, perhaps, illustrate how his hands are tied by the club’s financial dictates. Was it directed at the owner? It’s something we could really do with him expanding on, and at that point we can analyse it further.

Maybe though, there is an acceptance on the club’s behalf that if this profit must be made then we have to look at other ways of making it. Reports this morning suggest that we’ll be using up plenty of airmiles with Emirates, flying to the far east for pre-season games in Seoul, Beijing and Hong Kong, before traveling to Nigeria to tap into the huge African fan base. With the restrictive (but understandable) commercial deals still in place I guess we have to look at other ways of generating revenue and making up the shortfall that these deals have left us with (although their contribution to the new stadium can’t be overlooked).

Anyway, interesting stuff all round and hopefully these are comments that the manager will return to when talking to the press here. I’d certainly like more detail, I’m sure most fans would. I think everyone realises we’ve got financial commitments but how do we tally these comments from Arsene with the ones we hear from Ivan Gazidis who spoke to Fox Sports recenltly? He said:

All of the money we make is available to us, and to spend.

But does the £15-£20m Arsene refers to count as money made, or is it what’s made above and beyond that requirement? That’s why the lack of follow up on that comment by Arsene is a bit frustrating, but hopefully there’ll be some clarification when the manager meets the press this week ahead of the Sunderland game.

Meanwhile, there was bad news yesterday for Emmanuel Frimpong who will miss the rest of the season, and beyond, have ruptured his anterior cruciate ligament playing for Wolves on Saturday. It’s the second time he’s had a cruciate injury, but if there’s any silver lining to the situation it’s that it was the other knee this time, and doesn’t suggest a recurrence or an ongoing problem. It seems to be just bad luck and shows that these injuries can happen at other training grounds, on other pitches and with other medical teams. All we can do is wish him well in his recovery.

Elsewhere, Ju Young Park’s agent has denied Arsenal prevented the player from leaving on loan in January, saying there was no offer for him, but admitted that unless things change they’d be looking to move at the end of the season. Which is completely understandable. He’s the captain of his country who went from playing regular football in Ligue 1 to occasional benchwarmer at Arsenal.

When you consider that he’s got to return to South Korea for his military service in less than 18 months time he’s pretty much wasting his career with us. If there’s a measure of sympathy for him it has to tempered with the fact we don’t know what’s going on behind the scenes, how he’s performing in training and so on, but thus far it has to go down as one of the strangest pieces of transfer business we’ve ever done.

Finally for today, some comment box gold from some Sp*rs fans who rather miss the point of the original article. Most amusing.

Right, that’s that. Till tomorrow.


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