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Jan 6, 2013

Wenger: I pull Arsenal purse strings

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has lifted the lid on the club's contentious transfer policy and revealed the extent of the power he wields at Emirates Stadium.

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There has long been conjecture over Wenger's involvement in the financial structure of Arsenal, and the Frenchman says he is always fully involved in transfer negotiations and will be so again during the January window.

While most Premier League managers take a back seat when players and their agents sit down to thrash out contracts and pay packets, Wenger insists he plays a central role in every deal at Arsenal.

"I don't know how it works at other clubs, but the wages at Arsenal are decided in consultation between me and the board," Wenger said. "There is an amount of money that is dedicated to the wages every year. Within that budget, we try to come up with payments that are sensible and defensible.

"As long as the economical balance within a club is respected and you pay the people with the resources that make economical sense, then it is fine. If I want to pay a player a little more than the budget, then I ask for the authorisation from the board.

"The set-up we have means sometimes you have to let one player go to make space for someone coming as the squad is limited and sometimes you need to knock out some good players to make room for others."

Wenger went on to reveal his policy on wages is different to many of his top-flight rivals, with the Arsenal boss explaining there is a balance within his squad that ensures none of his players are paid vastly more than their team-mates.

So while some of Manchester City's stars may be pocketing more than £200,000 every week and find themselves lining-up alongside a player having to make do with a mere £15,000, Wenger insists on following different rules.

Samir Nasri and Robin van Persie are among the big names who have walked away from Arsenal after Wenger and his board refused to shatter their wage structure to satisfy the demands of their stars and, while the same scenario may not be true when it comes to making a final offer to current contract rebel Theo Walcott, Wenger is unrepentant.

"People neglect the reality that Arsenal pays very well and all my life I defend to pay well people who work for us and," he said. "If I believe we can afford to do it, we do it, that is the policy. Do we change? No.

"What we do not do is pay one player £200,000-a-week. We have kept it closer for all the players, so I guess you can say we have a socialist model and maybe this makes us more vulnerable (to losing players or failing to make star signings).

"We have kept to a structure that makes sense and is defendable when it comes to dealing with every single player. We make exceptions, sometimes, but those exceptions are not too often. If we want to continue to make a profit, we have to respect our structure."

Wenger's comments crystallise the debate over who is pulling the strings at Arsenal, with the club's manager clearly as much a part of the club's transfer decision making as any member of the Gunners' much-maligned board.

The loan moves of high earners Marouane Chamakh, Johan Djourou and the imminent departure of Sebastien Squillaci should create space in the budget for the arrival of a big-name in the January transfer window, with Barcelona's David Villa and Atletico Madrid's Adrian Lopez continuing to be linked with a move to north London.

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