Arsene Wenger hasn’t always been truthful when talking about transfers.
In the murky world of transfer business, identifying what’s true and what isn’t is a near impossible task.
Stories are fabricated or misreported all the time, while nobody involved is ever honest when asked.
The games played in the media by managers, players and agents alike are all part and parcel of the transfer window.
Arsene Wenger has taken full part in this over the years.
However, it’s important to separate outright lies from statements that have been made to look untrue due to the volatile nature of the transfer market.
For example, on January 27th 2009, Wenger denied that a fee had been agreed for Zenit St. Petersburg attacker Andriy Arshavin. Four days later, he was confirmed as an Arsenal player. W
enger didn’t necessarily lie about a fee being agreed. Rather, he likely told the truth on the 27th, but the situation changed quickly in the coming days.
Yet, there were times where he made statements that turned out to be completely untrue.
It might have all been part of the “game”, but to fans, it was a serious problem.
People have been mislead about certain players, and it’s worth highlighting.
So, here are five instances where Wenger wasn’t being entirely truthful about transfers.
1Robin van Persie (2012)
“He will stay at Arsenal,” was Wenger’s firm promise during the summer of 2012.
By this point, Dutch forward Robin van Persie had already released his open letter to the club which confirmed his decision not to extend his contract at the club.
He had a number of grievances with Arsenal and the way they were handling their transfer business, and saw no reason to stay.
Speculation about a move that summer mounted.
That particular line from Wenger was said in response to rumours linking van Persie to Juventus.
Whether it be to a rival or abroad, Wenger was adamant his star striker wasn’t going anywhere.
Yet, interest from Manchester United lurked in the background, and on August 15th 2012, terms between the clubs were agreed.
Two days later, van Persie was a Manchester United player.
2Samir Nasri (2011)
Arsenal had just arrived in China ahead of a friendly against Hangzhou Greentown and, for the first time that pre-season, Samir Nasri was a part of the squad.
The French midfielder had a year left on his contract and wasn’t willing to sign an extension. Rumours were that he would go to either Manchester United or Manchester City.
Wenger, in his first press conference in front of the gathered press, had this to say: “Will he [Nasri] be at the club next season? I say yes. Nasri is very happy at the club and is committed to staying.”
Perhaps Nasri was happy at that time, but the story has a familiar ending.
A player apparently committed to staying had no interest in a new deal and was soon sold to Manchester City.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t the only major departure that summer.
3Cesc Fabregas (2011)
Unlike Nasri and van Persie, Fabregas had a long-term contract at Arsenal when he left the club.
Nobody wanted to the Spaniard leave the club, least of all Wenger, who had spent years raising him and built his team around his talents.
The lure of Barcelona, though, was proving to be too strong to ignore.
It was a long and drawn out saga in which Fabregas mysteriously disappeared from pre-season training, and Barcelona acted like the transfer was inevitable.
Wenger had other ideas, saying: “I will be clear about this. Fabregas is with Arsenal for a long time and he will stay with Arsenal.”
The statement was good news for concerned supporters who didn’t want to see the team’s best player leave.
Unfortunately, it ended up as token resistance from the manager.
Fabregas was sold to Barcelona on the 15th of August to round off an horrific summer for the club.
4Thierry Henry (2007)
“Thierry Henry will be here next year. Can I guarantee that? Yes, of course.”
It won’t surprise you to know that Thierry Henry wasn’t at Arsenal the following year.
In this case, it’s easy to understand why Wenger offered his guarantee.
Henry was the club’s record goalscorer and easily the best player in the squad. Much like Fabregas four years later, nobody wanted him to leave.
At this point, Arsenal’s unwanted reputation as a selling club hadn’t been established.
They were still a major power in English football and expected to compete for major honours. To admit that Henry had to be sold would have been a radical departure from the norm.
It would have been painful for the club to do so.
Yet, the story has a familiar ending. Thierry Henry was sold to Barcelona.
5Alexis Sanchez (2017)
This one is a unique case because Alexis Sanchez did, after many twists and turns, remain an Arsenal player. Hence, Wenger’s comments throughout the summer ended up being true.
“The decision has been made and we will stick to that. The decision is not to sell.”
Indeed, for several weeks Wenger’s words were proving to be true. Arsenal resisted any interest from Manchester City or Paris St. Germain and, for once, looked set to back-up their claims.
That was until the final week of the transfer window arrived, and everything changed.
Arsenal didn’t stick to their decision not to sell.
In the finals day of the transfer window, Arsenal agreed, in principle, to sell Alexis Sanchez to Manchester City. This was a conditional sale, as it depended on a replacement arriving.
Nonetheless, after weeks of saying otherwise, Arsenal were prepared to sell him.
On a dramatic final day, Arsenal failed to bring a replacement in, and told City that the deal was off.
A twist of fate prevented Wenger from lying about the future of one of his key players again.