You might expect the problems Arsene Wenger is having at Arsenal would be a source of happiness for anyone connected with our north London rivals Tottenham. So it was a surprise for me to read a very understanding and sympathetic take on the situation from their former manager Harry Redknapp.
In an Evening Standard report the former spud was speaking about the ridiculous prices that are being paid in the transfer market this summer and in recent years, especially by English clubs awash with the Premier League TV money.
Redknapp agrees with Wenger’s idea that big money is being spent on average players and he specifically declares that £60 million for the reported Arsenal target Alexandre Lacazette from Lyon or £30 million for the Valencia defender Mustafi is too much.
He also questions whether the signing of the French striker who could not even get into the Euro 2016 squad would be of much use to the Gunners, but he also advised Wenger to do it anyway as it would be an even bigger risk to not bring in another forward in the current climate of frustration.
Redknapp said, “Arsenal fans want Wenger to sign Alexandre Lacazette but how can he be worth anything like the £60million Lyon are apparently asking?
“That asking price is probably twice as much as he is worth. You don’t mind giving £5m more for a player in some circumstances but paying double the price when he didn’t even make the France squad for Euro 2016? They already have Olivier Giroud, who led the French attack in that tournament, so there is a strong argument to suggest Lacazette cannot be an upgrade if his country turned its back on him.
“Every club is looking for top players and everyone says Arsenal need a centre-half. Manchester City have spent a fortune on centre-backs and what did they end up with? Eliaquim Mangala and Nicolas Otamendi cost about £30million each and they’ve been poor.
“What do you get for your money now? John Stones couldn’t get in the England team and now City have paid £50m for him. Arsenal are struggling to find players because they have set high standards for themselves. Injuries in pre-season have cost them — Rob Holding is a good prospect but nowhere near ready and Calum Chambers came in as a right-back from Southampton — but it is still a big gamble to pay £30m for Shkodran Mustafi from Valencia or £40m for Atletico Madrid’s Jose Gimenez.
“There is nothing like having a couple of new players in at the start of the year. It gives fans and the club a lift, but where are they? It is hard for Arsene when you have managed Tony Adams, Dennis Bergkamp, Emmanuel Petit, Thierry Henry and the rest to be told you have to pay £60m for Lacazette.
“Arsenal just need to play the transfer market game a bit more. Lyon know they have got Arsenal where they want them over Lacazette — they are going to screw them into the ground over the fee. Wenger either has to accept that and try to meet them in the middle after their opening offer of £30m was rejected — say £45m — and at least look like they are in the hunt for players to appease the fans.
“Pay a bit over the odds without taking a massive risk. Hard as it is to complete big deals, the mood at Emirates Stadium suggests the bigger risk for Wenger is doing nothing.”
So should Wenger spend a fortune just for the sake of it?