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Tuesday 27 September 2016

Wenger: 'Arsenal can still attract top talent'

Arsene Wenger has been widely criticised by Arsenal fans for a lack of activity in the transfer market. Photo: PA Wire
Arsene Wenger has been widely criticised by Arsenal fans for a lack of activity in the transfer market. Photo: PA Wire

Arsene Wenger believes Arsenal can still attract the world's best players and insists he is not scared to spend the money to recruit them.

The Gunners boss has been widely criticised by Arsenal fans for a lack of activity in the transfer market, with the £30million signing of Granit Xhaka in May not followed up by further big-name acquisitions.

With centre-back pairing Gabriel and Per Mertesacker injured Wenger opted not to recall fellow defender Laurent Koscielny, as well as Olivier Giroud and Mesut Ozil, for Sunday's Premier League opener against Liverpool following their Euro 2016 exertions.

That led to the inexperienced partnership of Calum Chambers and Rob Holding starting the 4-3 defeat, while Wenger has been linked with a move for Valencia defender Shkodran Mustafi.

That potential deal does not appear likely to be completed before tomorrow's trip to Leicester.

With a perceived struggle to bring in fresh faces, former Arsenal favourite Thierry Henry believes the club are no longer a preferred destination in the Premier League.

Talking about Arsenal's recruitment, Henry said: "Does the player want to come to Arsenal? That's something we all need to take into consideration. So are we still the first choice in England? I don't think so." But Wenger feels he can still tempt players to sign for a club which have not won the Premier League in 12 years.

"We have plenty of players who want to join us and I would say that even with the players who left, 99.5 per cent of the players have asked to come back even when they left. "He (Thierry) is one of them."

One player Wenger failed to lure to the Emirates Stadium was Leicester forward Jamie Vardy, who rejected the overtures to sign a fresh deal with the champions. Wenger said: "You have to respect the decisions of people and that's part of it and I think on every transfer market you have one or two who have decisions to make and you have to respect them. I don't think he has something special against us, I don't see why he would."

Wenger also hit back at long-standing criticism that he is unwilling to spend the money Arsenal have in reserve.

The 66-year-old admitted he may be tempted to take the gamble of reintroducing Koscielny into the side which travels to the King Power Stadium - while revealing both Aaron Ramsey and Alex Iwobi face three weeks out after picking up knocks in their opening defeat to Liverpool.

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