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Is Arsene Wenger right to sit on Arsenal's biggest ever transfer budget?

OK, there are about 60 hours to go until the end of the January transfer window and while our Premier League rivals have been busily reinforcing their squads, Arsenal seem content to ignore the opportunity to strengthen our playing pool, despite having arguably the biggest budget in Europe.

At the start of the season it was revealed that Arsene Wenger had a £70 million transfer fee kitty that he could dip into whenever he wants. Fantastic, thought us Gooners, we'll now be able to go out and attract proven world class players.

But as we all know, Le Gaffer doesn't operate that way. We sold Thierry Henry for £16 million to Barcelona. That money was spent on acquiring Eduardo (£8 million), Bacary Sagna (£6 million) and Lassana Diarra (£2 million). But we've subsequently sold Diarra for a £3.5 million profit.

That means that Wenger should have a transfer budget of £73.5 million. In fact, if you factor in interest rate growth and the revenues Arsenal have made from gate receipts, television and merchandise sales, the figure is probably now in excess of £80 million.

So why is Arsene so reluctant to spend any of that money...?

Well, the obvious answer is that he doesn't want to disrupt the balance of his squad and he maybe believes that the introduction of a new face or faces at this point in the season would be detrimental to the confidence in the Gunners' dressing room.

But wasn't the whole point of Arsenal moving to the Emirates Stadium so that we could compete with the biggest teams in the world in the transfer market?

That's certainly how the move away from Highbury was sold to us fans, but at the moment we're yet to see any evidence of that. The club is pulling in vast sums of money, but after 18 months in our new home, we've yet to see the big money signing that I think most of us Gooners hoped the new era would bring.

I'm writing all this in the full knowledge that the first team is performing much better than most people would have believed was possible at the start of this season, but how many of us would object to Wenger bringing in one or two world class players - be they, defenders, midfielders, strikers or a goalkeeper - not just to bolster the squad, but also to lift enthusiasm in the stands.

Players get a genuine buzz out of training alongside superstars. Just look at the effect David Beckham had on Cesc Fabregas when he joined Arsenal for training earlier this month. I don't think having that kind of admiration on a daily basis would have an adverse affect on our players. If anything it would lift the spirits and add more confidence to the team on match days.

But before anyone objects, I'm not suggesting that we sign Beckham. No, I'm just saying that with such a massive budget, surely we should be expecting our club to sign someone of quality that will excite us fans to the extent that we turn up at the stadium to witness our new player's arrival. When's the last time that happened at Arsenal?

At the moment, the only activity likely for the Gunners is Wenger's admitted interest in Gillingham teenage prospect Luke Freeman. That'll cost Arsenal the grand sum of about £250,000 and it's unlikely we'll see much of Freeman outside of next season's Carling Cup.

But there are a couple of days left in the transfer window and it wouldn't be the first time that Le Boss has made an 11th hour deal to bring a player to Arsenal, so until midnight on Thursday I guess we'll all have to remain patient and keep our fingers crossed. Just don't hold your breath.

What do you think? Should Arsene Wenger be more adventurous with his transfer kitty? Or is the manager right to state his belief in his squad, by refusing to bring in new faces? Perhaps you think Le Boss is taking a calculated risk that injuries won't harm our chances this season, but is that a risk worth taking? Share your thoughts here using our comments section below.

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Posted by Gordon Masson on January 29, 2008 11:20 AM in Debate of the Day| News| Players| Transfers
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I'm very happy with Wenger's signing policy. We follow Arsenal because its a special club, and unique amongst the top English clubs. Do you really want to be like Manchester United and Chelsea (and to a lesser extent Liverpool) and just sign whatever big name is floating around for a huge sum?

I certainly don't. I'd much rather watch Adebayor develop into the player he is today over the course of a couple seasons (yes, even with all the frustration that brings) than just sign Anelka, Torres or Tevez for umpteen million pounds. Let the others exhibit their lack of creativity and originality, I'll take Wenger's vision any day of the week

Posted by: Adam | January 29, 2008 1:35 PM

Surely if you are going to outlay a vast amount of money on a player, you'd hope they would be a first team player. That being said, they have to be better than a current first team player. In my opinion the only position which could be improved is the goalkeeping position. While players in other positions may have pedigree, there is no guarantee they would be better than an adebayor, or a flamini. Which goalkeeper would and could you buy now and expect to fit seamlessly into the team with a guarantee of no dropped points

Posted by: RVP | January 30, 2008 4:04 AM

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