Arsenal: Wenger on rejecting PSG and European progression; Lineker on Vardy deal
Speaking to the assembled media before Arsenal’s Champions League opener against Paris Saint Germain, Arsene Wenger has revealed he has turned down the French giants to stay at the Emirates.
Wenger is known to be good friends with PSG’s Qatari owners, who have made advances that would have seen Wenger vastly increase the £8 million annual salary he gets at Arsenal.
Arsenal’s longest serving manager has turned down the likes of Real Madrid and Bayern Munich in the past, unable to tear himself away from what has become a very personal project in north London.
Wenger said: “Look, [I didn’t say yes] because I love where I am. I know well the owners, but I feel always I remained loyal to Arsenal Football Club because I think it’s a club that has the qualities I love. And, that’s why.”
Critics will insinuate that the Frenchman doesn’t want to move to a club where there is an instant demand for trophies, but his commitment to Arsenal is something all fans should respect and must be the envy of supporters of rival clubs.
The Gunners’ match against PSG tonight is an intriguing encounter; in many ways it is Arsenal’s first ‘big’ game of the season.
Though they played Liverpool on the opening day of the season, absentees all but picked Wenger’s team for him on that day.
Tonight Wenger has options in central midfield and across the forward line, and how he sets his side up will give a big indication of how he wants Arsenal to play against the best opposition.
Furthermore, the former Monaco manager stated that Arsenal’s more experienced squad is in a position to make more of an impression on Europe this season.
“I was used to playing with younger squads because, when you build a new ground like the Emirates Stadium, you don’t have the resources,” said Wenger.
“Now I have a team with more experienced players. There are exceptions, obviously, but the majority of the squad is basically between 24 and 30 in age. That’s where you have a good combination of physical strength and experience.”
Arsenal have been knocked out of the Champions League at the last-16 stage for six consecutive seasons, though twice by Barcelona and twice by Bayern Munich it should be added.
A big part of this record has been their failure to finish top of their group, and though PSG will be favourites to win this group, the Gunners have solid claims.
Finally, former Spurs striker Gary Lineker has argued that Jamie Vardy would ‘walk’ into Arsenal’s team and praised the Englishman’s decision to stay at Leicester.
“It’s not all about the big pay day and stuff – especially at this time in his career as it was perhaps his one and only chance of moving to a bigger club. It was a really significant moment,” said Lineker.
“Lucas Perez, who they’ve brought in, I quite like but he’s not going to be as prolific as Vardy.
“All players believe they will start anyway if they’ve got anything about them. You can tell Vardy is full of confidence.”
This is a slightly romanticised view of the summer’s events, especially the point about turning down big money; Vardy got a new Leicester contract very close to the wages Arsenal were offering.
It is believed Vardy was unsure of how he was going to fit in at Arsenal as well, which hints he is not as confident in his own ability as Lineker thinks he is.
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