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5 things we learned at the weekend

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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Jan 31, 2012

Gazidis defends Gunners' recruitment

Arsenal chief executive Ivan Gazidis admits his club will never be able to compete with the likes of Chelsea and Manchester City in the transfer market but believes Arsene Wenger's focus on developing young players is the correct way to run a football club.

The Gunners are enduring arguably their worst season under Wenger since he took over as manager 16 years ago. They are fifth in the Premier League and look set to miss out on Champions League football next term unless their form improves in the rest of the season.

Wenger infuriated sections of the Arsenal support by refusing to bring in a marquee signing last summer despite selling Samir Nasri and Cesc Fabregas for a combined fee of over £50 million and the Gunners boss has had a quiet January transfer window so far ahead of Tuesday night's 23.00 GMT deadline.

City and Chelsea seem ready to spend the vast amounts of money provided by their respective billionaire owners at the drop of a hat, but Gazidis is not a fan of how they conduct their financial affairs.

"It (our model) does mean we can't afford to compete with oil money, and we can't afford to compete with super-wealthy individuals from Russia,'' he told Fox. "But I think the more important thing about our model is that it's sustainable.

"If we've learned anything from the world's economic crisis, it has to be that football clubs need to have responsibility - not just for today, but for their own futures.

"And our business model means that we can continue to do what we're doing forever.

"Our focus is always on young players, we've got a fantastic development system and still there are young players coming through consistently from our youth ranks and that'll continue to be the way Arsenal do things.

"We play football in a certain way, a little bit different to everyone else and we develop our team (in a way) that's a little bit different to everybody else.

"Yes, we can't afford to spend £50-70million on an individual player. But, we're proud of the way we do things, and we're proud of the results that we're able to produce from that.

"Of course there's anxiety when clubs are spending the kind of money they're spending. We don't believe that's sustainable for the long term. We think that has to come to an end. UEFA agrees with us and is bringing limits on spending in (the Financial Fair Play initiative), and we'll continue to do things the way we do them.''

Gazidis points to the success of teenage winger Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain as a case in point of how he thinks transfer matters should be concluded.

Arsenal signed the 18-year-old from Southampton this summer and he has gone on to impress to such an extent that he is rumoured to have an outside chance of representing England at Euro 2012.

"Arsene spends money with a view not just to the short term, but also to the long term,'' Gazidis added.

"People don't think about Oxlade-Chamberlain, but we spent a lot of money on Oxlade-Chamberlain. We believe that this is a young player who is an exciting prospect, and there are a lot of clubs in the Premier League that would love to have him, believe me.''

Wenger came under fire from sections of the Arsenal support for substituting Oxlade-Chamberlain during the club's defeat to bitter rivals Manchester United two weeks ago.

Gazidis appeared to give his backing to the Frenchman, however, saying: "We're proud of the model we have and we're happy we've got one of the greatest managers that the world has ever seen at the helm of that.

"Nobody has a job for life,'' he added. "And of course our objective is always to win trophies. We're in three competitions this year. Manchester City would love to be in three competitions. They're not.''

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