Arsene Wenger has toned down his assessment of Paul Pogba’s world-record move to Manchester United but feels Arsenal and other clubs find themselves at the mercy of a wildly spiralling transfer market.
Pogba’s return to Old Trafford from Juventus has marked the latest front in Wenger and Jose Mourinho’s long-running verbal feud, with the Manchester United boss unhappy at the Frenchman’s assessment of the deal as being “completely crazy”.
United’s neighbours Manchester City made John Stones the most expensive defender in Premier League history on the heels of the Pogba deal and Wenger, who has struggled in the search for significant Arsenal additions following the early close-season capture of Granit Xhaka, believes the money coursing through English football is causing unpredictability.
“The value of a player is dependent on his talent, the expected strengthening of the team, his age and of course his resale value,” he told Sky Sports.
“When you speak about Pogba it ticks all these boxes – but we are in a system that we don’t master.
“We have to follow the prices paid by other people. That has gone up because the available of money is much higher. That’s why we’ve crossed the £100m bar for the first time.
“It makes the market more unpredictable. Where you could approximately value a player before, today the identity of a club that comes in for a transfer is more important than the rest.
“If you go to Spain and you’re an English club – straight away the inflation comes in. So I would say, in France the clubs amongst themselves are very reasonable.
“If an English club comes in the price goes straight away up because they know there is money in England.”
Wenger has been frustrated in his attempts to add a new forward to his ranks after Jamie Vardy opted to remain with champions Leicester City, but he insists he is ready to spend if the right deal presents itself.
“We want to spend the money when we have it,” he explained. “But we respect the money we have – it is very difficult to find the quality of players who are available.
“Despite all the money that exists in England there is very little movement in the transfer market.
“We are in the transfer market, we are focused on concentrating on the players we have to get them ready for the season. On the other hand, with what happened with us [last season], of course we are looking outside to strengthen our squad.”
Leicester surprise Premier League triumph means Arsenal have now gone 12 seasons without claiming English football’s top prize and the missed opportunity was a source of guilt for Wenger.
“Guilt because you want to predict who would win the league and you would not have included Leicester, so everybody else would say we should have come in front of Leicester,” he added.
“But if you look at the numbers they are worthy champions, what they have done is exceptional.”