Arsene Wenger today insisted he had no regrets at having signed Francis
Jeffers instead of Ruud van Nistelrooy.
On the eve of Arsenal's Premiership clash against United at Old Trafford,
Wenger revealed that he had faced what was effectively a straight choice between
the two strikers in the summer of 2001.
|Wenger: Likes vanilla ice cream|
However, given the tight budget restrictions at Highbury, Wenger left Sir Alex
Ferguson to sign van Nistelrooy for £19 million and turned instead to Jeffers
for around £10 million.
Many neutrals would consider that van Nistelrooy has proved to be far better
value, with 36 goals last season compared to Jeffers' return of two, and 16
compared to one so far this campaign.
The ex-Everton striker has also suffered from continual injury problems, which
have again ruled him out ahead of tomorrow's game, and has dropped down the
pecking order at Highbury.
Wenger nevertheless explained his reasoning just a day after Manchester United
scout Les Kershaw had admitted that he did not recommend a move for Thierry
Henry in his teenage years at Monaco as he was considered `raw'.
The Arsenal boss said: `Ruud van Nistelrooy was one of our options.
`I think he could play well with Thierry, who is an all-round player, while
van Nistelrooy is more of a box player but they're both team players.
`We were considering him and Francis Jeffers and, in the end, we went for
Jeffers as we wanted to keep an English basis here.
`We wanted to keep building young players who are English. You can't only go
for foreign players. There was a basic problem though and if you look at our
biggest transfer, then you will see why.'
That was the capture of Sylvain Wiltord for £11 million, with Arsenal having less financial muscle than United,
who went on to spend £30 million on Rio Ferdinand.
Asked if he had any regrets at missing out on van Nistelrooy, Wenger
nevertheless insisted: `No. If you got together all the players that Arsenal,
United and Liverpool were interested in, then you'd have lorries full of them.
`I have missed a few players because we always try to respect our financial
potential but I have also missed a few that I'm happy to have missed!'