By Richard Clarke
If you believe all that you read, it seems that Europe's top
clubs are picking at the carcass of an unsuccessful Arsenal season
hoping to gobble up the most tasty morsels.
Mathieu Flamini has gone and, they say, Alex Hleb plus even Cesc Fabregas may follow.
But it was a perception rubbished by Arsène Wenger at his pre-match press conference on Friday. The Arsenal manager says the players who have gone already will be the only ones to depart and he has had calls from 220 players who want to join his side.
The Club could not stop Flamini agreeing to join Milan this week. The out-of-contract French midfielder was offered an attractive deal by Arsenal but chose to go to Italy. Jens Lehmann is also going because his deal also ends in the summer. However, according to Wenger, they will be the only players using the Emirates Stadium exit this season.
"Look, [apart from Lehmann] there is one player who is free," the 58-year-old. "He has already left. For me, 98 per cent of the squad will be here next season. And the two per cent have already gone.
"The rest are all under contract. If anybody wants to buy a player he has to call me. I can give you my number if you want because maybe some ignore that I have a phone.
"What is unbelievable is I'm sitting here [at the press conference and it is] like we have killed all the players. Yet when I go to my office I have 220 calls from players who want to come in."
It has been suggested that Hleb may employ the new Webster clause and buy out his own contract.
"That is not as simple as it looks," retorted Wenger. "And you should not forget that what players can do to us we can do to them.
"The Webster clause is not easy, you can't come in next day and buy out. There is no rule that says what it is all about.
"You have to go to a tribunal and then to FIFA and if you don't agree with FIFA [you] have to go to ACAS. It takes a lot of months. And you can be banned for the whole period if it is not done in a proper way."Copyright 2013 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source 9 May 2008