Wenger: Cautious Spending Owes More to Recession than to Financial Fair Play

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has said that lukewarm nature of the recently concluded winter transfer window is a clear sign that European clubs are now unable to match their previously sky-high spending levels.
The veteran Gunners boss compared the business conducted in January 2012 to the spending frenzy that took place same time last year, when more than £100 million were splashed by Chelsea and Liverpool on the purchase of just a handful of players.
While January 2011 had certainly generated some crazy business, things were very much under control this time around, with no major money transfer taking place. The month’s highest spending English club weren’t a title challenger and not even someone trying to boost their European chances by offering silly money. Instead, it was the relegation battlers Queens Park Rangers who spent the most, with Djibril Cisse and Bobby Zamora being the most high-profile of their signings.
Wenger was expected to bring in reinforcements for their troubled fullback position in January as all of their first-choice right-backs and left-backs are currently out injured. But the Frenchman brought in a little-known 19-year old midfielder named Thomas Eisfeld, who never played a professional game for his former club Borussia Dortmund and has a history of suffering career-threatening knee injuries.
The Arsenal boss, whose nickname in the British media is Le Professeur, believes that this new trend of moderate spending is there to stay due to the anticipation of Financial Fair Play (FFP) and Europe’s general economic problems.
Speaking in an interview with the club’s official website Arsenal.com, Wenger said, “The figures show you [that there is more caution]. You must say as well that you had big transfers last year with Torres, Carroll and David Luiz. This package alone was about £100 million, but still there is a significant difference because we are in a recession period and everybody suffers.”
“I don’t know if you have seen the numbers in Europe but [according to a Uefa report on football clubs] there are €1.6 billion [£1.34 bn] losses, that’s not debt but losses. That is absolutely amazing. That means tomorrow if you had to stop your activity, half of Europe would be bankrupt.”
“It means that football has to respond and I don’t know if financial fair play will come in, but it looks like economically the whole of Europe is becoming a bit more cautious.”
In his interview, the 62-year old schemer mentioned Torres, Carroll and Luiz, a trio whose stock has fallen significantly in the past twelve months due to their poor performances. But one player whose value is rising with every match he plays is Arsenal captain Robin van Persie. The classy striker scored twice in his side’s come-from-behind win over Aston Villa on Sunday and is now level with his fellow Dutchman Dennis Bergkamp on Arsenal’s all-time leading goal-scorer chart.
Wenger was quick to lavish praise on van Persie after he achieved yet another personal milestone.
“What is amazing is that you look at the number of games Robin has played and the number of goals scored, and [his record] becomes absolutely top, top class. You have national class, international class and world class, and Robin is world class,” he said.

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