Arsene Wenger believes the days of £200 million transfers are not far away. Arsenal’s Premier League rivals Manchester United broke the world transfer record earlier in the week when they paid £89m to Juventus to take Paul Pogba back to Old Trafford.
That deal continues a trend which has seen the record extended by nearly £75million in 20 years, with the likes of Alan Shearer, Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale previously holding the tag of the world’s most expensive player.
Wenger’s own record signing came when Arsenal paid in excess of £40m to sign Mesut Ozil from Real Madrid and he has previously criticised the amount of money that has been spent recently.
And the Frenchman, whose side welcome Liverpool to the Emirates Stadium for their Premier League opener tomorrow, believes the figures will continue to grow.
Asked how long it would be until a club pays up to £200m for a player, Wenger replied: “Not long. I have said that since I have been in the game that at some point it has to stop, but as long as football continues to develop and becomes more popular, more money will come in.
“What is interesting to see is that today, you have a local business and you just want to survive or you have a world business and the money comes in, whether it is Google, Facebook, football or any other sport, they are worldwide so you can’t set any limitations on the income.
Wenger recruited Granit Xhaka from Borussia Monchengladbach in May for around £30m but has failed to add any other big name signings since then.
A defender is currently his highest priority given injuries to centre-back pairing Per Mertesacker and Gabriel, and with Laurent Koscielny not ready after his run to the final of Euro 2016 with France.
Valencia’s Shkodran Mustafi has been heavily linked but Wenger insists success is not always down to how much is spent.
“It is not always about spending money or sacking the manager - football has to be a bit bigger than that,” he said. “I believe the big clubs are also about values and identity and we have to be conscious - that is important as well.
“I’m 20 years here in England and it is the first time a team like Leicester wins the championship.
“You can still make fantastic buys at a normal, reasonable price, we saw that with N’Golo Kante last season.
“He was certainly a vital aspect of their chances in the Premier League but they did not keep him so in the longer distance of course it makes a difference.”
Given the fact that, between them, Manchester United and Manchester City have spent over £300m, while Chelsea and Liverpool have also splashed more cash than the Gunners, there have been questions asked as to why Arsenal have not spent the money they have in reserves.
But with the increase in television revenue many clubs can now spend more heavily than before and, following on from Leicester’s surprise title success, Wenger feels this season’s Premier League could be the biggest yet.
“It has motivated the bigger clubs to spend even more,” Wenger said of Leicester’s title win.
“But that can make it easier as well. In the way that everyone can drop points. There can be not one team that just walks away with it and nobody can catch them.”
Meanwhile Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has downplayed the effect of the big-name bosses in the Premier League this season and insisted it will be the players who determine who ends the campaign as champions.
The arrival of Manchester City’s Pep Guardiola and Chelsea’s Antonio Conte, both hugely successful on the continent, has ramped up the excitement ahead of a term where Jose Mourinho will also hold the reins at Manchester United.
Klopp belongs alongside them in that upper echelon of managers having won trophies with Borussia Dortmund but while he acknowledges the excitement surrounding those in charge, he insists they can only have so much impact on what happens between the white lines.
“The best thing is we don’t play,” he said.
“It’s exciting for everybody having these big names in the league.
“But if they all have only one aim then there can be only one who is really lucky.”
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