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Harrods vs Primark: A Breakdown Of Wenger’s Player Purchases

The post mortem after the narrow defeat at Swansea is in full swing and all the same Gooners, who thought overhauling Spurs and Chelsea on Saturday night was a formality, by Monday all want to see Arsene Wenger either fall on his sword or spend big in a hurry.

Many of you have been calling TalkSPORT and tweeting about mismanagement and generally bemoaning Wenger’s bargain basement transfer policy. Of course I include in those callers former Arsenal men Frank McLintock and George Graham, both of who give us no chance of finishing in the top four and both seem to feel Chris Samba is the solution to all that ails us! Well sorry, but for me Chris Samba is not the solution.

He is certainly better than Per Mertasacker, who has been disappointing, but he is not in the same class as Laurent Koscielny or Thomas Vermaelen. Would any of those calling for us to flex our financial muscle truly like to see us spend big on a new centre-back?

Please just cast you mind back and ask yourselves this question – had I heard of Bacary Sagna,Thomas Vermaelen and Laurent Koscielny before Wenger bought them? Did I question his judgement at the time? If I did question Wenger, who was proved correct, him or me? Did you also consider him mad for not buying a new keeper, like Mark Schwarzer or Shay Given in 2010? Would I swap either for Wojciech Szcesney in 2011?

Now don’t think I can see no wrong in Wenger. He has stuck with too many underachievers for too long and overpaid in wages for mediocrity. Yes there are faults and yes we need more creativity and better strength in depth, but I am far from convinced that over spending on the marquee signing or the big-name star is necessarily the answer to all our problems.

Cut the deadwood and invest the wages ofManuel Almunia, Nicklas Bendtner, Abou Diaby, Denilson and Sebastien Squillaci in new improved contracts for those who are our short-term future to medium term future is the first job.

The next task is to strengthen in the right areas, but so many of you want Wenger to spend £25-30 million on two new players. However, this is not his way, and in so many cases it is not the correct way. In his own tenure he has spent heavily, in market terms, at the time on three occasions. Sylvain Wiltord, was for me, a success, but Jose Antonio Reyes and Andrey Arshavin not so.

I am not intending to take you on a history lesson of Wenger’s successful transfer dealings. We all know he has worked miracles and made the club fortunes over the years, but I do wish to look at the some recent examples where thorough research and scouting for the correct players to fit the system, regardless of notoriety or price-tag, can easily prove the winner of hasty flashing of the cheque book.

Please find below two match day squads with eleven starters and five substitutes which I hope may give those screaming for us to empty our bank account this January pause for thought. All squad members have been purchased since 2009.

Harrods United Primark United
De Gea £17.8m Vorm £1.0m
Kolarov £17.0m Santon £5.0m
Luiz £25.0m Simpson £0.5m
Bassong £8.0m Cahill £7.0m
Lescott £22.0m W. Brown £1.0m
Downing £20.0m Parker £5.0m
Henderson £16.0m Tiote £3.5m
Aquilani £25.0m Cabaye £4.3m
Carroll £35.0m Sinclair £1.0m
Torres £50.0m Ba £0.0m
Zhirkov £18.0m Odemwingie £0.5m
Carson £8.0m Friedel £0.0m
Gyan £13.2m Larsson £0.0m
Lukaku £20.0m Taarabt £1.0m
N’Zogbia £9.5m Dembele £5.0m
Palacios £8.0m Morrison £2.8m
Total: £312.5m Total: £37.6m

I am sure many of you will say I am being too simplistic, but am I?

Are you a betting man or woman? If so, which team if they were playing each other this Saturday, would you place a sneaky fiver on?

We do need back up for Robin van Persie, although regular readers of mine will know I hope Benik Afobe is that man, and we do need to replace Arshavin and Tomas Rosicky. I would argue that there is magnificent talent to be found in the Dutch and French leagues, or even in the lower English leagues (Jordan Rhodes?), and we do not need to pay over inflated prices for players plying their trade currently in Spain, Italy of Germany.

I have not included Ramires at £18 million or Juan Mata at £29 million in the team above because both have showed glimpses of class, but PSV picked up Dries Mertens for £7 million from Utrecht and he has bagged 16 goals and 16 assists playing in a Mata role this season.

Many will disagree, but it’s hard to argue over facts. Spending big in a rush seldom works.

David Seager 

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Article title: Harrods vs Primark: A Breakdown Of Wenger’s Player Purchases

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