The widely held view of many, over the years has always been that Arsene Wenger does not care much about what his rival does in terms of preparing for a match, rather he prefers focusing more on the strenght of his team. But overtime, this particular scenario has over the past seasons taken a new turn in the aspect of playing personnel moving to rival clubs within the league.
It might be different when such a player is not key to the fortunes of the team, as was the case of Emmanuel Adebayor and Kolo Toure when they moved to Manchester City. Though it is debatable whether they were not key players at the time of their departures but it was clear that they were no longer in Arsene Wenger’s plans.
But the cases of Samir Nasri and Gael Clichy was different as they no doubt improved a rival. Yet the club’s argument was that they both had one year left on their contracts putting the club in a precarious situation.
As a result of their contractual situation, the economic needs of the club took precedence over the playing side by the funds generated from these transfers. And with Bacary Sagna joining that list after rejecting a new contract it means the conveyor belt of players joining a direct rival continues.
Yet the most heartbreaking of all was Robin Van Persie’s move to Manchester United. He had a profound effect on the Old Trafford club winning the league that season. Though he burnt his bridges by a public statement, there is no doubt that the club could have done more to see that he saw out his contract considering the fact the entire strike force were new to the team – recall we only just bought Oliver Giroud, Lukas Podolski and Santi Cazorla when RVP was sold. Some may say his staying would have affected team spirit, yet Robert Lewandowski did criticise the Dortmund hierarchy for refusing his transfer to Bayern Munich before this season ended. Yet he had a good return of goals surpassing the 100 goal mark before is eventual departure.
Now the speculation doing the rounds is that Thomas Vermaelen might cross over to Manchester United. Many will say why can’t the club just say to a player, you can go to a certain team, but not to a rival within the league which leads one to Wenger’s beliefs.
Arsene Wenger’s liberal attitude has tend to see him not stand on the way of the wishes of his players. Even though there are instances where the situation would be out of his hands in terms of the duration of the player’s contract. But the economic needs of the club could be sacrificed for it playing side as Borussia Dortmoud did with Robert Lewandowski by forcing him to see out his contract. A tough stance could be key from Arsenal’s point of view as this will no doubt send a message to other players that the needs of the club takes precedence over personal wishes as Alex Ferguson did by declining Gabriel Heinze’s wish to join Liverpool a couple of seasons ago.
The club could do well to take a clue from what Klopp and Ferguson did. As the football landscape in the Premier League has changed. It is no longer a one way rival when it was just Manchester United.