Has Arsene Wenger completely lost grip on reality?
Arsenal have done next to nothing in this transfer window, so Wenger has had quite a few questions to answer as to why he hasn't strengthened the club.
There's still time for the Gunners to make one or two big signings, but Wenger has already ruled out the kind of spending the club did in 2011, when it made multiple purchases right at the deadline (h/t the Daily Mail's Laurie Whitwell):
The situation is completely different because a couple of seasons ago we lost two or three players in one game and we had no other option than to buy.
Look, the transfer market is a worry nowadays and it has always been. With every transfer market I could write a book and a very interesting one.
It is a worry I don’t deny that. It is maybe more different nowadays because there are more quality spenders on the market and especially France has come on the market as well and bought at a very high level. It’s a lot more difficult.
They have bought players in areas that we do not need. For example in the creative front of midfield we have Wilshere, we have Chamberlain, we have Cazorla, we have Rosicky, so if some of these clubs bought a player in this area, when you have no need you don’t buy.
We have many players who can do that.
It’s not a question of spending the money it’s about finding the right players. We are not scared to spend money but it must be the right players.
Etienne Capoue, Roberto Soldado and Paulinho would all arguably improve Arsenal and address some of the club's key issues, so that argument doesn't really hold water. Using their reported transfer fees via The Guardian, Capoue cost £9.4 million, Soldado was £26 million and Paulinho came in for £17 million.
The trio will have then cost around £52 million. That's £18 million less than what Ivan Gazidis intimated would be available to Wenger this summer and £12 million less than the Gunners bid for Luis Suarez.
The money is there, but for whatever reason, the club doesn't want to spend it. If Arsenal wanted any of those three players, it's likely they could have landed them.
Instead, Wenger is only left to hype up the club's current players. It's become a common refrain every summer.
As hardly any experienced players come into the club, Wenger wants to point out that X player is like a new signing because he is returning from injury, coming into his prime or finally adjusted to the Premier League.
On one hand, you have to agree with Wenger.
Arsenal are still a young squad, and their players will improve next season. As a manager, you don't want to buy senior players to play positions where you've already got somebody who's about to enter his prime.
Regarding the transfer market, it has gotten more difficult to find talented players for reasonable prices. Arsenal aren't able to exploit the same kind of market inefficiencies they were in the late 1990s and early 2000s.
However, the other top clubs have adapted. They've come to grips with the fact that if they want world-class players, they'll have to pay over the odds. The transfer market isn't a rational place. Players are worth whatever the market dictates.
It's unlikely that transfer fees are going to come down anytime soon. Arsenal have to understand this and be willing to spend the money it takes to improve the squad.
Perhaps it wouldn't be a problem if Wenger seemingly didn't contradict himself. He says it's not about "spending the money," but if money really wasn't an issue, would Luiz Gustavo be an Arsenal player right now?
Wolfburg completed the deal on Friday, signing the former Bayern player to a five-year contract (h/t BBC).
The Guardian's David Hytner reported that Arsenal refused to pay much more than the £14 million valuation they placed on Gustavo.
There's almost no way Arsenal should have lost out on the Brazilian midfielder if money wasn't the deciding factor. The Gunners could have offered regular first-team football on a Champions League club. Instead, Gustavo chose a club that finished 11th in the Bundesliga last season.
So by choosing not to pay that few million extra in terms of transfer fee and wages, Arsenal lost out on the kind of defensive midfielder they have been looking for for years.
But don't worry, money totally isn't going to stop Arsenal from signing the right players. It's just Wenger's ineptitude.