Sunday, July 20, 2008

Wenger - 25 is too OLD

Arsene Wenger admitted ready to buck his well-established trend and recruit an experienced figure this summer, but the Arsenal boss is also certain that the recent departures of high-profile players will not curb his side’s ambition in the coming months.

It has been a difficult summer for Gunners fans as the club have already seen Jens Lehmann, Mathieu Flamini, Alexander Hleb and Gilberto Silva leave North London, with Emmanuel Adebayor’s future still in doubt despite Wenger’s protestations to the contrary.

With youngsters Samir Nasri and Aaron Ramsey the only arrivals to date, there is certainly a question mark over whether Arsenal are ready to challenge their rivals for the league title, particularly given Chelsea and Manchester United are chasing players of the calibre of Kaka and Dimitar Berbatov.

Wenger remains a master operator in the transfer market and his success in developing young talent is legendary, but it appears the Frenchman is now ready to sign arguably his first well-established player since William Gallas in 2006 - with reports naming the likes of Gareth Barry and Torsten Frings as potential targets.

“We lost players with experience of course,” said Wenger following his side’s 2-1 win over Barnet at Underhill on Saturday.

“But we can still bring in players with experience and don’t forget that last year, since the first of January, Van Persie has missed nearly six months, Rosicky has missed four or five months and Eduardo has missed four or five months, they will all be back.”

When being asked whether Gunners fans can expect to see a more mature player arriving at Emirates Stadium, Wenger replied:

“What do you call old? Yes 25 and over is very old at Arsenal! We can get one player with experience, yes."

On his summer recruitment plans, the three-time Premier League winner added: “It could happen [a new signing], yes, one, maybe two maximum, but one certainly.

“I cannot give you any names but we still think to bring one player in.”

Despite losing Hleb to Barcelona and Gilberto to Panathinaikos in the last week alone, Wenger remains convinced by the quality and depth of his squad as he seeks to end a run of three consecutive seasons without a trophy.

“Very much confident [Arsenal can recover from those losses],” Wenger continued.

“We lost two good players but we bought two players and we have good young players coming through.

“We don’t live in an ideal world. Flamini was at the end of his contract, Gilberto I gave him the opportunity to leave because he was 32 and [was offered] a three-year contract and that was in a strong position.

“There is an attraction to join Arsenal, believe me, because we have more demands than players who want to leave us and I think Flamini was free to leave last year and nobody cared about it, you know.

"He had a good season and then he left. But he was free to go last year and that is part of football.”

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