Arsène Wenger believes that big-spending clubs are finally beginning to take seriously UEFA’s Financial Fair Play (FFP) rules.
The introduction of penalties for breaching the rules have put Arsenal in a stronger position to compete for the world’s best players, he argues.
Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain have been hit with fines after making huge losses and neither club has spent big this summer. Indeed, only this week, PSG pulled out of a deal to sign Real Madrid’s Angel Di Maria, claiming the Argentinian winger was too expensive.
City, meanwhile, have only spent £18m on four players since the transfer window opened – by their standards a car boot sale of a summer. In contrast, Arsenal, who face City at Wembley in Sunday’s Community Shield, have spent more than £60m on four players.
“It looks like we are closer but they have some restrictions,” Wenger said. “There are clever people who help you get around that and they do that very well. Time will tell. It is a bit early for us. It looks like still these clubs are concerned by FFP.”
Citing PSG pulling out of a move for Angel di María, Wenger continued. “That means they have a concern, these clubs how to respect FFP. In the Champions League it is a problem and in England in the Premier League as well.”
Yet Wenger admitted he has doubts over whether UEFA can stand up to any club to challenge it over FFP sanctions.
“We will see,” Wenger said. “UEFA has lost power because of Europe, because you can have alternatives to go to court outside of UEFA and not everybody accepts the decisions from UEFA, so UEFA has to be a bit cautious as well because of television’s financial power.
“If you kick a club like PSG out tomorrow because they don’t respect FFP, the French TV companies will go to UEFA and say: ‘Look, we want our money back.’ It is not as easy for UEFA as it looks at the start.”
As far as Arsenal are concerned, though, Wenger feels that years of parsimony, his side can finally compete financially. Last year they broke their transfer record to sign Mesut Özil for £42.5m; now Alexis Sánchez has arrived for £30m from Barcelona.
“We are less vulnerable for sure,” Wenger said. “In the last two years we have bought Özil and Sánchez. Five years ago we would have lost Özil and Sánchez.”