Arsene Wenger drops Chamakh hint
Arsene Wenger has given a clear indication that Marouane Chamakh could be joining Arsenal on a free transfer, and the Frenchman is adamant that with the Gunners in a "much stronger" financial position, his spending power could rival Chelsea's this summer.
Arsenal's possible recruitment strategy is a matter of some intrigue as, barring a collapse by both Chelsea and Manchester United in the final three games of the season, the club will finish without a trophy for the fifth year in succession.
Wenger has indicated that changes to the playing staff are inevitable, and Bordeaux striker Chamakh is widely expected to move to North London on a Bosman free transfer in June having spoken in glowing terms of the Gunners in recent months.
Typically, Wenger remains reluctant to confirm any deal for the Morocco striker but has given the strongest hint yet that Chamakh will join Arsenal at the end of his contract in France.
"We will announce the deals after the league [finishes]," Wenger said. "He is one of the players who has a good chance to join us."
Arsenal's likely failure to end their well-publicised trophy drought has led to speculation that Wenger may relax his prudent policy and invest in a number of areas - notably in goal, defence and attack.
The Gunners' transfer plans have been hampered in recent years by the debts incurred in moving to Emirates Stadium in the summer of 2006, but following reports that Wenger could have as much as £30 million at his disposal, the manager admits he is in a strong position should he opt to challenge big spenders such as London rivals Chelsea.
"I think we can overcome [Chelsea]," Wenger said. "For a while we were not investing maybe because we had built the stadium but I think our financial situation is now becoming much stronger and we will be capable to buy the players we need to buy.
"No we cannot [compete] on wages with Chelsea. That is simple. I believe what is not normal is not our wage bill but their wage bill because that should not be allowed. However they cannot all go to Chelsea, it is as simple as that. There are top players outside of the ones Chelsea want to buy who are good enough for us."
Wenger's own future is becoming a matter of some speculation as his current contract runs for one more season. Chairman Peter Hill-Wood told Soccernet he expects Wenger to remain at the club and the Frenchman underlined his commitment to Arsenal when rejecting the chance to join Real Madrid last summer.
Whether he extends his association with the club into a 16th season remains uncertain at present, but Wenger is happy that having overseen the development of the club's London Colney training ground, the construction of Emirates Stadium and the assembly of a talented, if young squad, the future appears secure for the Gunners.
"This club has never been in a stronger situation," Wenger said. "The club has a new stadium, fantastic training facilities, is in a strong financial situation, has a very young team who is playing at the top. What can happen to the club?
"I am like everybody. I act everyday like I will stay my whole life here but knowing that will stop as well. It will be the final year of the contract and I will give the maximum I can to this club. First of all it is my nature and I want to do well for the club. After I don't think that the future of this club is necessarily linked only with me. All the ingredients are here to be successful and I believe we will be."