Press conference

Wenger on Alexis, Ox and Financial Fair Play

Arsene Wenger’s final media duty ahead of the Bournemouth game was to sit down with daily newspaper reporters.

As usual they raised a number of points, from retaining Alexis to the sale of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and the future of Financial Fair Play.

Read on for some of the standout quotes from the boss:

on the reasons for selling The Ox…
Because today in the Premier League, you have 107 players who go to the final year of their contract. In that, in every club, some are players that the clubs do not want to extend, and some are players that the clubs want to extend but don’t agree for financial reasons. And we have both sides: we have players we do not want to extend, and we have players we wanted to extend, where we could not find an agreement. So at some stage that means that every time you have to quantify the loss of income. And at the end of the day, you decide, ‘OK, we can do it for two or three, but not for four or five.’

on the potential for players to be unsettled…
It’s inevitable. France played against Holland on the last day of the transfer window. Do you really think that not one French player or Dutch player had phonecalls in the afternoon about whether they move or not? I’m not naïve enough to believe that. That’s why you have to scrap it [the transfer window] before the season starts.

on whether Alexis was disappointed on deadline day…
I am not sure, I don’t know if he was disappointed or not. We have talked about legends, that means they have a mental strength that is beyond normal. You cannot be at that level and be disappointed and not play. I believe if you love to play football, you will play football.

on considering selling Alexis…
I didn’t want him to leave unless you bring somebody else in with similar quality - then you can defend it. Then you have a player with a four or five-year contract in front of them who is young. But overall, I didn’t want to lose him without having any replacement. Every decision you make can be interpreted in both ways. As long as you have the quality on the pitch for the club, that’s the one thing that matters. I didn’t want him to leave, it’s true. I didn’t want him to leave and in the end he didn’t leave.

on the chance of Alexis staying beyond next summer…
Yes, there is a chance, yes. You just said he is committed and focused on Arsenal. That’s what makes me believe it. At the end of the day, he is 29 years old in December, he knows his football years are counted at that level, especially with the evolution  of the game now, so you have to enjoy every minute.

on Financial Fair Play…
Financial Fair Play raises new questions. Today I am not very convinced that we can maintain it. We have to maintain the control of financial management of the clubs. Football is maybe only at the start of a huge financial investment. It has become the most powerful sport in the world. That means, do we have to open the door completely? To investments? That is a question we have to raise, because at the moment it looks like we have created rules that cannot be respected. Nothing works when you create rules that cannot be respected. 

Maybe we are at the crossroads and have to think, do we open it completely? Freedom to investment for people like the Chinese or Americans who want to invest here? Why not? If you want to remain the best league in the world, that is certainly the way we have to go.

I think Financial Fair Play [should end] because there are too many legal ways to get around it. At least the question has to be raised. At the moment it looks like you can buy clubs in China and get the players there. The question has to be raised. I’m convinced that at the moment the rules are not strong enough to make that respected.

 

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