Several failed attempts to land marquee players later, Wenger is doing his best to remind Gunners fans that the transfer window is not the easiest of ventures. In doing so, he's playing the role of Arsenal politician in the event that his roster looks similar to what it did in May.
And there's a good chance that's exactly what we're headed for.
"The transfer market is a worry nowadays and it has always been basically," Wenger said in a press conference that Arsenal.com's Rob Kelly attended on Friday.
"It is maybe more difficult nowadays because there are more quality spenders on the market, especially in France," Wenger said. "They have come on the market as well and bought at a very high level, so it is difficult."
Comments like the ones above are a far cry from the ones made by the February version of the Arsenal boss.
Kelly transcribed Wenger's comments in the middle of the 2012-13 Premier League season, too, and they didn't paint the picture of a man concerned with French clubs lurking at every turn or the difficulty in signing top-tier players:
I think, now, we are in a stronger situation where we can spend some money...I'm not reluctant to spend. First of all, we only had money recently. Secondly, in England there is a way of thinking that every problem is sorted out just by spending money - but that's not always the case...If we find tomorrow a player of top, top, top quality, we will take him.
Although Wenger guarded himself against the idea that money would fix all of Arsenal's problems, fans haven't even had the chance to lament the fact that it won't. The Gunners finished fourth in the EPL table at season's end, and are going on three months where rumours are all that persist with respect to the transfer market.
If you're an Arsenal fan who stays glued to the latest transfer chatter, I feel for you. So does Football Babble's Twitter account, who put together this snide post to take a look at all of the failed Wenger transfer attempts so far:
The latest disappointment for Arsenal and the transfer window came on Friday.
As reported by Sky Sports, Gunners target Luiz Gustavo is making a switch from Bayern Munich to Wolfsburg. Wenger had reportedly offered a bid of £17 million for the 26-year-old Brazilian.
Gustavo joins a long list of players who have garnered interest from Emirates Stadium. What those players have in common, though, is that none of them will be wearing Arsenal red when the Gunners open up their season against Aston Villa on Saturday.
Not yet, anyway. As noted by ESPN UK, Wenger talked out of both sides of his mouth in Friday's press conference by maintaining yet again that spending money is not the issue—finding the right player is.
And yet, there's been more than one "right" player this summer. As this tweet from ESPN's Janusz Michallik would suggest, it's getting to the point where knowing when to take Wenger at his word is more confusing than ever:
As noted by Jonathan Liew of The Telegraph, some would categorize Wenger's comments as an attempt to remind us that it's not his fault that other clubs are refusing to collect what he has bid for certain players.
To a certain point, that's true. Premier League clubs are lining up to transfer their best players to rival clubs each summer. Wenger can't control a decision of whether or not to accept an offer.
He can control the offer.
Wenger is to blame if he consistently tosses around lower figures than what players are being valued at to try to strike a bargain. £100 million was the number floating around when the transfer window opened, but Wenger has refused to make moves consistent with the idea that he has money to spend.
Take Luis Suarez, for example.
It was no secret that the Uruguayan striker wanted out of Liverpool, but Wenger's first bid for the player was under £40 million. The next bid was £40 million and one pound, a move made more to trigger a supposed release clause than step up to Liverpool's evaluation of Suarez.
Now, it appears that Suarez will be staying at Anfield when it looked like all the Gunners needed to do was offer more money to the Reds for one of the top players in the world.
Arsenal superfan Piers Morgan is growing tired with Wenger's strategy:
It's a humbling experience when the hope you hold out for something important vanishes. All hope is not lost for Arsenal during this transfer window, and Wenger could still make good on his pact to spend some of the club's resources to bolster the roster right now.
That being said, his latest comments are hard to decipher. If he's not afraid to spend the money, it's hard to argue that he wouldn't have done it by now.
Wenger is a great manager. If he and the Gunners let Sept. 2 pass without making a significant move, though, it will be hard to take him at his word if a similar situation arises in future transfer windows.
Follow B/R's Ethan Grant (@DowntownEG) on Twitter.
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