Wenger waiting for right buy

Leicester City's Ahmed Musa going down in the penalty area after a challenge by Arsenal's Hector Bellerin. Referee Mark Clattenburg ignored calls for a penalty, however, as last season's top two sides played out a goal-less draw.
Leicester City's Ahmed Musa going down in the penalty area after a challenge by Arsenal's Hector Bellerin. Referee Mark Clattenburg ignored calls for a penalty, however, as last season's top two sides played out a goal-less draw.PHOTO: ACTION IMAGES

Arsenal manager is unmoved as fans urge him to splurge during Leicester stalemate

LONDON • Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger hit out at criticism of his English football club's transfer policy, after he once again came under pressure from supporters to spend money on new players.

So far, the Frenchman has made only one major close-season signing, recruiting Granit Xhaka from Borussia Monchengladbach for a reported fee of £35 million (S$61.6 million).

The Swiss midfielder made his full debut in Saturday's 0-0 Premier League draw with champions Leicester City, but the visiting supporters made their displeasure plain by chanting: "Spend some money!"

Asked by a reporter after the game why he was reluctant to part with the club's cash, Wenger replied: "Why do you say I'm reluctant? I don't understand that.

"If I buy you tomorrow for £45 million... have I done well? If I listen to you, I will have done well, because I have spent the money. But spending the money in itself is not a quality.

"Spending the money and buying a top player, that is different. We are ready to do that. I (will) spend £300 million if I find the player.

"I have to remember as well that we are a club who have 600 employees whom we need to have a responsible attitude (towards) as well.

"It's a bit surprising that you come out of football games, you don't speak about football. You have to speak about money."

The Frenchman pointed to the performance of 20-year-old centre-back Rob Holding, a low-key signing from English third-tier side Bolton Wanderers last month, as evidence that Arsenal are still bringing talented players to the club.

"Unfortunately, nobody speaks about the performance of Rob Holding today," said Wenger, whose side lost 3-4 at home to Liverpool in their opening game. "You should be happy. He's English, he's 20 years old. But I'm sorry, he didn't cost £55 million, so he can't be good.

"That is for me the most disappointing (thing). We don't speak about the performances of the players any more. We just speak about anything else than football. I believe it's not right."

He gave short shrift to the fans' calls for greater investment in the squad.

"They are highly influenced by the media," he said. "That's part of the process today. We try to make the right decisions. It's as simple as that."

On the plus side, Wenger saw Laurent Koscielny, Mesut Ozil and Olivier Giroud return to action at the King Power Stadium following their post-Euro 2016 breaks.

There was little between the teams, last season's top two, but Leicester had a strong penalty appeal turned down late on when substitute Ahmed Musa appeared to be tripped by Arsenal right-back Hector Bellerin.

Leicester manager Claudio Ranieri, however, was phlegmatic.

"I am not a manager who says, 'Oh, there was a penalty'," said the Italian. "For me, it's okay.

"The referee made a very good performance. A penalty is when the referee whistles. He didn't whistle, so it wasn't."

Beaten 2-1 by Hull City in their opening game, Leicester remain without a win this season. But Ranieri was encouraged by what he saw against Arsenal.

"I think we deserved a little more, but it's okay," he said. "I'm very, very happy for the effort, the spirit and the union of the team."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 22, 2016, with the headline 'Wenger waiting for right buy'. Print Edition | Subscribe