Before this summer, Arsene Wenger had stubbornly declared that developing young talent within Arsenal was the way to go, rather than spending large sums of money on superstars.
But after a summer of conceding and going after big targets such as Gonzalo Higuain, Luis Suarez and Wayne Rooney, Wenger's old philosophy ironically may be tested more than ever in 2013-14.
After Arsenal reportedly bid £40 million plus one pound for Suarez, thinking that it would trigger a release clause in his contract, it was learned by Liverpool that no such release clause even existed, burdening the hopes of the Gunners to land the 26-year-old striker, according to David Maddock of the Mirror. Apparently, such a bid simply forces Liverpool to inform Suarez that an offer has come through.
Now, it appears Arsenal must bid £55 million for Liverpool to even consider selling Suarez, according to the report. The thought of landing Suarez appears to be growing less realistic by the day.
Of course, in an effort to curb the backlash from the Arsenal faithful, Wenger is now praising the youth he has built up throughout the years, claiming the Gunners could get off to a good start, even if they don't land a star in the summer.
Wenger said the following, via ESPN FC:
We are still working on improving our squad, but we have a base of young players who get a chance here, who started in the Premier League, like Szczesny, Jenkinson, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Wilshere, Ramsey, Walcott. That is unique. Nobody else has done that.
These players can have a special bond, and they are on the way upwards—they are not over the hill. They will be better next year, and that is why I am confident that we will be stronger next season.
Wenger may have a point, especially if Jack Wilshere stays healthy moving forward. I'm still not convinced Arsenal is going to soar in the Premier League and Champions League without landing a star in the transfer window, but I do believe the Gunners will be better next season regardless.
The fact that Arsenal won eight of its last 10 games to finish in the top four of the EPL last season and earn a spot in the Champions League should not be ignored. That was, indeed, an improbable finish for a club that seemed destined to be on the outside looking in down the stretch of the 2012-13 campaign. The club deserves credit for that burst at the end, including the youngsters who rose to the challenge.
So, if Wenger doesn't land a star this summer, he can make it right by surprising with his youth. Isn't that what he wanted all along?
It sets up what should be a contentious and perhaps career-defining campaign for Wenger next season. Can he create something special after a summer that was mediocre?
One thing's for sure: If he does, it would quiet down a lot of people.
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