Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has claimed it is “nearly impossible” for the Premier League’s top clubs to strengthen their squads in the January transfer window, after he made just one signing.
The £8 million deadline-day capture of Malaga left-back Nacho Monreal proved to be the only player to arrive at the Emirates Stadium over January, despite Wenger’s earlier claims that he would ‘be active’ in player recruitment after a turbulent start to Arsenal’s season.
The Gunners boss believes it is tough for the country’s big clubs to make huge improvements to their side during the window, suggesting the mid-season transfer scramble is primarily an opportunity for relegation strugglers to boost their flagging campaigns.
“The teams at the top didn’t buy at all,” Wenger said. “The teams at the bottom did buy. This is explainable by the fact that strengthening the teams at the top at this stage of the season is nearly impossible. Teams today are so scared to go out of the Premier League that they will do anything not to go down."
Arsenal were also strongly linked with Barcelona striker David Villa and West Ham midfielder Mohamed Diame over the past few weeks, and Wenger admits he was hoping to make one more addition to his squad.
“We were close to one more signing,” he said. “It didn’t happen because of the desires of the clubs to sell or not to sell. It was not a money problem, but a desire from other clubs.
“Football looks to be an exception in our society (when it comes to spending). I always say it cannot last much longer, but I am always proved wrong on that.”
Wenger says he is delighted with his capture of Monreal, revealing his move to sign the Spain international was something of a last minute decision following the injury to Kieran Gibbs - who could be out for up to six weeks.
“Our scouts have followed his progress for a while,” he said. “We had a blow with Gibbs’ injury as he may now be out for four to six weeks, so we had to make a quick decision and that explains our buy.
“We bought him as a left back, but he can also play as a left-sided midfielder. He can adapt to our style of play quickly. He has a good left foot, is very mobile, and has good combination play. That is vital to how we play. He is available for the game against Stoke (on Saturday).”
Wenger concluded by offering his assessment on David Beckham’s deadline-day move to Paris Saint-Germain, claiming the former England captain’s brief spell training with Arsenal this month did him the world of good.
“One training session here and he signs for PSG,” Wenger said with a chuckle. “PSG look to extend their reputation and Beckham is a good part of that. Beckham is a world brand, so the eyes will be on Beckham and the French league while he is there. He has to go through a physical preparation and will take a few weeks to be match fit.”
Wenger confirmed his injury-prone midfielder Abou Diaby is ready to return to first-team action after his latest spell on the sidelines, while Mikel Arteta may also return against Stoke at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday.