Transfers were high on the agenda when Arsène Wenger faced the press ahead of Sunday’s Premier League opener against Liverpool. This is what he said:
About the new season
“I think we have stability. We finished second last season and we have all the desire to improve as a team, so we know that we have to jump forward and continue to improve. That’s why I believe that our pre-season games were encouraging. But of course now we go for points and want to transfer the confidence we got from our pre-season into efficiency in the championship.”
“[Excited?] Yes, I must say even more so. There is anxiety because you want to do well and you know how important it is, and maybe this season more than ever it looks like every club has new ambition so it promises to be a very exciting one and a very difficult one as well. We are on a good run in the Premier League… a 10-game unbeaten run, and we want to continue that. I think we are focused, we have a huge desire in the squad, we are very ambitious and we are humble enough as well to know that it is difficult in every single game to win in the Premier League.”
About competition in the league
“From last season you have two [pieces of] information. First, it’s not necessarily the club who invested the most who won the championship or who had been at the top. The second thing is that teams like Leicester created a huge surprise. Will that be repeated by Leicester or somebody else? That makes the contest even more difficult.”
About transfer activity
“Look, today my focus is not too much on that, because we play a very important game in 48 hours. Transfers will not help us now to do well in this game because we have a strong squad. We have to deal with the game on Sunday with the squad we have available. But of course we lost basically three centre backs, because we have [lost] Mertesacker and Gabriel and Koscielny, who is not ready. Most of the time, the injuries happen in the same sector. But I believe we are equipped to do well and I’m confident we can do well. Transfer-wise, as soon as we do something, we will inform you.”
What about Shkodran Mustafi?
“No, I cannot tell you [anything].”
How many signings can we expect?
“I don’t count in numbers because otherwise our squad will be too big. Like many teams, if we find the top quality then we will still strengthen our squad.”
Any priorities apart from the defence?
“There’s no other specific area that we need. It will depend on the quality we find. If we find somebody who strengthens our team in any position, who gives us a superior quality, we’ll do it.”
About inflated prices in the transfer market
“It’s not so tiring, it’s just surprising more than tiring. We knew that would happen. It was not difficult to anticipate that. Of course it was difficult to imagine five or 10 years ago that it would go to that level, but maybe that’s the consequence of the success and popularity of the Premier League. After that you can discuss. I said the other day that the price of a player normally depends on his talent, on his expected strengthening of the team, on his age and on his resale value. After that, we are in a system where we are in competition as well and if your opponent pays £40million, then if you want the player you have to pay £45million.”
About other clubs and their big money signings
“You focus on your squad and your quality and you try to strengthen where you can. We were not specifically [competing] with Man United on a player, so we have done what we wanted and we want to do more. We try to compete at our level with all the assets we have and we try to compete with them. We showed that last Sunday [against Man City].”