Wenger sees no value in market, pins hope on Welbeck's return

LONDON • Arsene Wenger has defended his refusal to buy a striker in the January transfer window, after being boosted by the imminent return of Danny Welbeck.

The Frenchman felt that some supporters were unhappy at the failure to strengthen Arsenal's attack last month, a feeling compounded by the team's third consecutive game without scoring against Southampton on Tuesday.

However, Wenger believes that there is no value for money in the transfer market in January and only brought in Mohamed Elneny, the Egypt midfielder, from Basel.

"I have to accept that everybody can have different opinions," Arsenal's manager said yesterday. "You cannot praise the quality of our strikers and on the other hand say that it is a mistake that we have not bought any strikers.

"We have Alexis (Sanchez), we have (Theo) Walcott, we have (Olivier) Giroud, we have Welbeck and I can't see any stronger striker being on the market in the January transfer window."

He also predicted that transfer fees would jump again following the impending new television deal.

"The inflation is on our doors with the next TV deal in the summer, it will move up again the transfer prices, I am sure that soon the £100 million (S$203 million) target will be easy to reach," he said.

Welbeck, who has been out with a knee injury since April, could return in three weeks' time, potentially against Manchester United, his former side.

Arsenal will arrange for special behind-closed doors friendly matches to sharpen the English striker's fitness in addition to him playing for the Under-21 side.

"I believe that he (Welbeck) needs to play two or three games before thinking about coming back into the first team," Wenger said. "He has not played for 10 months so we need to be patient with him.

"He has good basic fitness but after... it is competitive decision-making and he needs to get used to that again. We can organise games internally without being official games and I think in the next three weeks, he should be available."

Arsenal also face the prospect of losing Tomas Rosicky, who has been ruled out for up to three months because of a thigh problem.

The Czech, who has been plagued with injury problems, is out of contract at the end of the season, but Wenger would not confirm whether he had played his final game for the club.

"His injury is quite a serious one," the manager said. "It is a muscular injury. The good news is that he will apparently not need surgery as it is a partial rupture of his tendon but how long it takes - it is two months or three months - we don't know."

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 06, 2016, with the headline 'Wenger sees no value in market, pins hope on Welbeck's return'. Print Edition | Subscribe