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Will Arsenal's Champions League exit harm plans to strengthen squad?

Much is being written this week - including by myself - of Arsenal's need to bring in new faces this summer to strengthen the squad, but nobody has addressed the question of what impact the Gunners' Champions League exit has had when it comes to attracting new players.

Put simply, from a world class player's point of view, it might have been easier for Arsene Wenger to lure a Kaka or Ronaldinho or Robinho or Ricardo Quaresma or Karim Benzema (pictured) or whoever if he had been able to say they were joining the European Champions. That may or may not sway a soccer superstar, but when it comes to emerging talent, it would undoubtedly be a plus.

There are many criticising Le Gaffer for failing to bolster his first team personnel during the January transfer window and while I believe he was wrong not to bring in one or two experienced players, I'll also admit that had Arsenal triumphed against Liverpool on Tuesday - which they would have, but for dodgy penalty decisions - then I'd also be applauding Wenger for his courage in showing belief in his existing players.

If you want to accuse me of being fickle, go ahead. That's the nature of being a football fan - we support a club our entire life, whereas players and managers are transient. But I'm not about to buy into the ludicrous suggestions that Arsenal will now sack Arsene Wenger and bring in Jose Mourinho. Anyone who has any history with Arsenal Football Club knowns that Wenger has been a revelation and has the team playing some of the best football on the planet. The level of entertainment us Gooners are treated to is second to none.

In saying that, I'm as frustrated as anyone at our lack of silverware...

Would I rather that Arsenal won ugly in competing for a trophy? Well, quite frankly, when it comes to the European Cup, yes I would.

But back to my central question. Can Arsenal attract the kind of calibre of player that we need to build on this season's progress? Well, I've no doubt that Le Boss has a wish list of players that he'd like to see in Arsenal colours and with his reputation as one of the world's best coaches, there wouldn't be too many players unwilling to work with the Frenchman.

The real question is whether Arsene and the club directors are ready to scrap the stringent Arsenal wage structure to attract big name players who demand top salaries for their talents. The club would, of course, benefit from shirt sales and other sponsorship and merchandising deals if it were to sign a global superstar, so although ripping up the payment structure would be risky, given the right balance, the club could still come out ahead in the money stakes.

And Arsenal's failure in the Champions League this season does have one major advantage: any potential transfer target will know that if he could help the Gunners win the biggest prize in European football, he would instantly become a legendary figure in one of the world's most historic footballing institutions. That might prove a big enough enticement for even the most inflated ego.

What do you reckon? Will Arsenal's European exit harm our potential to attract new players? Or could it be a bigger enticement for players looking to be associated with bringing glory to the club? And who exactly do you reckon Arsene Wenger should be trying to lure to Arsenal? Share your thoughts here.

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Posted by Gordon Masson on April 10, 2008 2:06 PM in Champions League| Debate of the Day| Players| Transfers
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