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  -   NEWS
Friday, December 6, 2002
I don't regret missing out on Van Nistelrooy: Wenger

Arsene Wenger today insisted he had no regrets at having signed Francis Jeffers instead of Ruud van Nistelrooy.

Arsene Wenger
Wenger: Likes vanilla ice cream
(CliveBrunskill/Allsport)
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.

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!'

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