Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger believes Chelsea’s decision to sanction the sale of Juan Mata to Manchester United is a sign that the club have changed their philosophy and are now striving to comply with Financial Fair Play [FFP] rules.
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Eyebrows were raised as Chelsea released their latest financial figures late on New Year’s Eve, revealing they had made a 49.4 million pound loss for the year ending June 30, 2013.
The club continues to insist that deficit did not infringe the new FFP rules being implemented this season, yet Wenger believes the restrictions may now be biting at a club that has been among the biggest spenders in world football over the last decade.
Even though Chelsea used some of the cash they are set to receive from the sale of Mata to sign Mohamed Salah from FC Basel on Thursday, Wenger suggested their eagerness to balance the books has come into the mindset for the first time as they decided to agree to the sale of a star player to a domestic rival.
“I think there’s a financial reason [for selling Mata],” begins Wenger. “That is the first time I come to that conclusion with Chelsea. It means somewhere that Chelsea changes philosophy and they want to get in line with Financial Fair Play. That is a good thing.
“Their team will grow and they are not in the need to buy because they have plenty of young players -- [Eden] Hazard, Oscar, Ramires, [David] Luiz. They had a surplus with Mata, so they sold him. Yes it is a surprise, but they got a good price.
“They lost [close to] 50 million pound last year, disguised maybe it’s more. We didn’t need the rules of FFP to be dictated to us because we imposed it on ourselves and that should be the case for everybody. It is difficult because you fight with a gun against people with a tank.
“Today, everybody now fights on more even ground. Until now, we only had one or two billionaire owners, but once we have 10, they have to respect some rules or they kill each other and it’s endless.
“In the short term, people will try to get round FFP, but if you imagine tomorrow 20 clubs in the Premier League with 20 multi-billionaires. At some stage they have to sit down and say: ‘Look, are we killing each other just to pay higher wages, or do we make a rule that makes sense?’ It will happen in the longer term, there’s no other way.”
Wenger went on to predict the talk of a crisis around Manchester United will soon disperse, as he suggested the current problems afflicting boss David Moyes are a short-term issue that will be overcome.
“I don’t think of Man United like you [the media] think about Man United,” he added. “It’s a short moment in their history and I don’t want to give any advice to David Moyes.
“I don’t see Man United as a club in decline. I see it can happen to any big club, as a club who goes through a difficult moment, but they will come up again, don’t worry.”