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LONDON, Aug 20 (Reuters) – Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger defended his transfer policy on Tuesday, reminding disgruntled fans of the club’s past successes and encouraging them to put their faith in the current squad.
Wenger has come under fire from supporters and the media for failing to recruit a significant signing in the close season and pressure has already started to mount on the Frenchman following Arsenal’s losing start to the Premier League campaign.
A 3-1 home defeat by Aston Villa on Saturday sparked calls from the Arsenal Supporters Trust to put on hold contract talks with the 63-year-old whose deal runs out after this season.
Ahead of a tricky Champions League qualifier against Turkish side Fenerbahce in Istanbul on Wednesday, Wenger said now was not the time to press the panic button.
“I would like to reiterate in the last 16 years we have been very successful with transfers,” he told a news conference.
“If you look at the players who play tomorrow, they are top quality players, and you should never forget that.”
Arsenal chief executive Ivan Gazidis told fans at the end of last season that the north London club had the financial muscle to compete for big-name players but they have so far signed only Yaya Sanogo on a free transfer from Auxerre.
British media previously reported interest in Argentina international Gonzalo Higuain, who ended up at Napoli, as well as Manchester United’s Wayne Rooney, before Arsenal failed with a bid to sign Luis Suarez from Liverpool.
The Merseyside club rebuffed Wenger’s efforts to prise the Uruguay striker away and accused Arsenal of lacking class when they made a bid of 40 million and one pound ($62.71 million) which was expected to trigger a release clause.
The north Londoners, who finished fourth last season, received another rebuke from Newcastle United manager Alan Pardew on Monday for lacking respect after making an offer for French midfielder Yohan Cabaye.
Arsenal’s bid came before Newcastle’s game at Manchester City which United lost 4-0 with Cabaye left out of the team.
“We don’t want to hurt anybody, not Newcastle, not anybody,” Wenger said on Tuesday.
“You can’t reproach us on one side for not buying and yet on the other side, when we try to buy, reproach us as well. That is a bit contradictory…
“It is not always to think what is outside is better than what you have.
“What is important as well is to rate what you have and our fans have to understand that as well.”
The Frenchman said he will try to reinforce his squad but emphasised that he would not jettison his cautious approach.
“As always, we do what we think is right,” he was quoted as saying on the club’s official website (www.arsenal.com). “When we think we have the right players, we do it.
“We were for years restricted and we competed with exceptional quality. This year we did not lose any players – we just lost two players with injury – but we will try to strengthen the squad and make the right decisions until the end.
“I repeat many, many times that the transfer window should be over before the season starts because it is a little bit destabilising once the season has started – to be there talking about what is not really important in football.”
Arsenal were dealt another blow on Tuesday with the news that 20-year-old winger Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has been ruled out for at least six weeks with a knee injury after he was injured in a collision with Villa defender Antonio Luna.
“It will be at least six weeks out with a posterior cruciate problem… a ligament that is stretched. We don’t think it will need surgery,” Wenger said.
($1 = 0.6378 British pounds) (Reporting by Toby Davis; editing by Ken Ferris)