Arsene Wenger's Role at FIFA World Cup Can Help Arsenal in the Transfer Market

James Dudko@@JamesDudkoFeatured ColumnistJune 16, 2014

CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA - JULY 06: Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger is pictured in a commentary position during the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa Semi Final match between Uruguay and the Netherlands at Green Point Stadium on July 6, 2010 in Cape Town, South Africa.  (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)
Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

Arsene Wenger's role as a commentator for French TV station TF1 at the 2014 FIFA World Cup is a source of frustration for many Arsenal fans. They feel it can distract Wenger from the business of securing transfers for the Gunners.

But Wenger's work at the tournament in Brazil shouldn't hinder his plans to make new signings. In fact, it can be a major boost to Arsenal's transfer dealings this summer.

If Wenger and the Gunners intend to spend big, then delaying action until after the World Cup won't change their plans. The club and its manager showed a willingness to do just that when they paid £42.5 million for Mesut Ozil last summer.

Some would contend Arsenal need a similar move this summer. Thanks to new sponsorship deals, the club certainly has the fiscal muscle to do it.

The World Cup won't change Wenger's decision to spend big this summer.
The World Cup won't change Wenger's decision to spend big this summer.Matt Dunham/Associated Press

That means Wenger is going to be focusing on a very specific bracket of players. These are players of the so-called "marquee" variety.

These exalted beings are in a price bracket all of their own. It's one that won't change too much depending on performances at this World Cup.

What the tournament does provide is a chance for the Arsenal boss to take a live look at any players on his radar while they're operating in a competitive environment.

International tournaments have a different atmosphere. It's an atmosphere that breeds a different kind of pressure for players representing their respective countries as opposed to their clubs.

How prospective targets deal with that pressure has to be an important consideration for any potential deal. For instance, Wenger will no doubt have been impressed by Mario Balotelli's performance for Italy against England.

The troubled AC Milan striker is a reported Arsenal target, so Wenger will have been pleased to see Balotelli bury his notorious temperament issues and thrive in a big game against Premier League opposition.

The 23-year-old's match-winning performance has already got sections of the press anticipating an acceleration of Arsenal's interest. Ben Jefferson of The Daily Express, citing unnamed reports from Italy, states Wenger has bid £25 million for Balotelli:

Balotelli has been told he can leave AC Milan this summer with new boss Filippo Inzaghi reportedly not desperate to keep the 23-year-old at the San Siro.

And that has seen both Monaco and Arsenal show interest in signing the mercurial former Manchester City player.

It had been suggested that Monaco were preparing to offer Colombian striker Radamel Falcao in exchange for the Italian international - who scored the winner against England on Saturday night.

But reports in Italy suggest that Arsene Wenger has attempted to scupper any move to France with a £25m offer.

While this report is far from confirmed, perhaps Balotelli's dominance in Italy's opening Group D match was the final evidence Wenger needed to rubber-stamp a deal.

It wouldn't be the first time Wenger has used a World Cup to endorse a new arrival. That's what he did in 2002 after running the rule over Brazil's midfield anchor Gilberto Silva.

At the time Wenger told (h/t Daily Mail), that Gilberto's performances at the World Cup were a factor in the deal:

I am delighted Gilberto Silva has joined us.

He is a naturally gifted, world-class player who has proved by his performances in Japan during the summer that he is a winner.

He will give us extra quality and his competitiveness in midfield will provide us with a good balance and added strength.

Wenger's decision to judge Gilberto at a World Cup paid off handsomely for Arsenal. The stylish, physical and resourceful midfielder was a key part of the team that won two FA Cups and a Premier League title in three seasons.

Gilberto Silva proved to be a superb purchase for Wenger following the 2002 World Cup.
Gilberto Silva proved to be a superb purchase for Wenger following the 2002 World Cup.Ian Walton/Getty Images

From the comfortable confines of his commentary booth, Wenger has both immediacy and detachment to make similar judgments at this tournament.

For instance, there are many mooted candidates to replace the departed Lukasz Fabianski as the Gunners' backup goalkeeper this summer. One potential target is Nice starter and Colombia international David Ospina.

Wenger will use Ospina's World Cup form to make his final judgement, according to a report in MetroWhat better setting is there to judge a player's overall competence?

Arsenal could move for Colombia goalkeeper David Ospina after the World Cup.
Arsenal could move for Colombia goalkeeper David Ospina after the World Cup.Quinn Rooney/Getty Images

Alternatively, Wenger can use his view of the tournament to make a definitive assessment of a player he may be unsure of. Ivory Coast full-back Serge Aurier is a prime example.

The Gunners have long been linked with the dynamic Toulouse defender, but Wenger's enthusiasm has dimmed recently, according to Daily Mirror writer John Cross.

But if Wenger watched Aurier provide two brilliant assists to help beat Japan in Group C, it might have convinced him Aurier is the man to replace former linchpin Bacary Sagna.

Serge Aurier might have done enough against Japan to convince Arsene Wenger to finally make his move.
Serge Aurier might have done enough against Japan to convince Arsene Wenger to finally make his move.Matthias Hangst/Getty Images

Wenger's autonomy in transfer dealings has been a source of contention for sections of Arsenal supporters during recent seasons, but that is the reality in which the club works.

Yes, CEO Ivan Gazidis and supposed transfer fixer Dick Law are in place. But ultimately, the final word on signings comes from the Frenchman, who has been in charge since late-1996.

That's why Wenger's place at a World Cup should be seen as more than just a diversionary sojourn for the Arsenal chief. It can be a perfect chance to assess and give final approval for potential signings.


    ‘Senegal Can Feeeeel It’ — Twitter Explodes After Win

    World Football logo
    World Football

    ‘Senegal Can Feeeeel It’ — Twitter Explodes After Win

    Laurence Griffiths
    via Goal

    Arsenal's Elneny Aware of Tough Test

    Arsenal logo

    Arsenal's Elneny Aware of Tough Test

    via Goal

    Emery's Coaching Staff Confirmed

    Arsenal logo

    Emery's Coaching Staff Confirmed

    via Arsenal

    Neymar in Doubt to Face Costa Rica

    World Football logo
    World Football

    Neymar in Doubt to Face Costa Rica

    Gianni Verschueren
    via Bleacher Report