Wenger: January signings unlikely
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has admitted he does not expect to make a major signing in this transfer window, after seemingly ruling out a move for Schalke midfielder Julian Draxler.
Wenger has been persistently linked with a move for Draxler in recent weeks, with a deal for the 20-year-old Germany attacking starlet reported to be close in the first two weeks of this transfer window.
However, Wenger was firm in his conviction that Draxler will not be joining Arsenal this month, as the Arsenal boss believes he has the squad depth required to sustain a challenge in three competitions with Nicklas Bendtner now fit to return after his ankle injury.
When asked whether there was any chance of Arsenal signing Draxler, Wenger offered a firm "no", before going on to suggest the prospect of his Premier League rivals signing big-name players in the January window does not necessarily mean they will be stronger in what is left of this season.
"It looks very unlikely," Wenger responded when asked whether he would sign a player in this transfer window. "We are at the 23rd of January today and we are not close to doing anything.
"I feel a bit guilty going to a press conference during the transfer window and having no one to announce, but I don’t want to lie.
"We have [Alex Oxlade-] Chamberlain back, [Nicklas] Bendtner back, [Mikel] Arteta and [Aaron] Ramsey back next week. We have the needed squad. Overall, we have a very strong squad. If something exceptional turns up, we will do it.
"Having said that, not everyone will strengthen in this window. They will buy, but by buying it does not mean that will strengthen [them]."
Wenger dismissed reports that he was spotted watching Barcelona star Cristian Tello in his side’s 4-1 Copa del Rey win over Levante on Wednesday night, but he was a little more forthcoming as he expressed his surprise that Chelsea have agreed to sell midfielder Juan Mata to Manchester United.
His comments on Mata’s move to Old Trafford were laced with an expression of concern that the timing of the move has some benefit to Chelsea -- who have played Manchester United home and away in the league already this season -- with all of the Blues title rivals still to face a United side that will now be boosted by the arrival of the Spaniard.
"I am surprised," he stated when asked about the imminent 37 million pound deal. "Juan Mata is a great player and they sell a great player to a direct opponent. It opens again a little bit the opportunity of this transfer market because Chelsea has already played twice against Man United. They don’t play against them anymore. They could have sold him last week [before United’s 3-1 defeat at Stamford Bridge].
"If you want to respect fairness, that should not happen. You would want that everyone is on the same level. Chelsea do not do the rules. Maybe the rules should be adapted to more fairness."
Wenger went on to confirm that he will not consider a loan deal for centre-back Thomas Vermaelen in this transfer window, after the Belgian was linked with a move to West Ham.
"I am ready to extend his contract," he said of the defender whose current deal expires at the end of this season and who looks set to leave Arsenal having lost his place in the starting lineup.
"We want Thomas Vermaelen to be happy and have the number of games a player of his class deserve. I have huge respect for his quality and his attitude.
"We will speak about that. At the moment, we are all on board to achieve something that is respectable and at the end of the season, I can sit down with Thomas and decide what he wants to do."
Meanwhile, it has been confirmed that Arsenal have appointed former Barcelona assistant coach Andries Jonker as head of their academy.
The 51-year-old Dutchman is currently assistant manager at German side Wolfsburg and will succeed Liam Brady as the Gunners academy head on July 1.