By Chris Harris
Player power is not what it used to be, according to Arsène Wenger.
The issue is back on the agenda in the wake of reports that Wayne Rooney wants to leave Manchester United after a supposed fall-out with his manager, Sir Alex Ferguson.
Not long ago the general consensus was that a player who angled for a move would get his wish because there was nothing to be gained from keeping an unhappy individual at a club.
But Wenger thinks the balance of power has changed. He believes that clubs have more clout when it comes to keeping their prized assets – although he admits it might cost them more in the long run.
“It is down to the clubs that football is a world competition now, and you have plenty of players unemployed,” said Wenger.
“Legally nothing has changed although, in fact, the rule is a little bit inflationary. If you want to keep a player, to protect the value of a player, you have to extend the contract. If you extend the contract, I have never seen it for less [money] and I have been in the job a long time. It is always for more.”
Wenger has built a reputation for selling players when they have given their best years to Arsenal but there has been the odd occasion when he has had to fight to keep a flourishing talent in situ.
But does that merely postpone the problem for a manager rather than solve it?
“Yes, but I can return that question,” was Wenger’s response. “Do you think you always have to give in? What do you do? It is part of being part of a club.
“We have people who only negotiate contracts at our club and I come in when it is needed. When you have a professional squad, a first-team squad plus players after 16, you have to renegotiate, you are always in renegotiations.”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 18 Oct 2010