Wenger Happily Operates At A Loss

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Digsy wonders if Wenger’s calculator was broken over the summer.

So Jose Antonio Reyes isn’t keen on England because “everything’s shut at 5pm”? I appreciate how it must have been tough for Reyes to go Ferrari shopping, what with his busy 9-5 schedule, but the Spaniard’s reluctance to return “home” to Arsenal likely means the swap deal with Julio Baptista becoming permanent. And I’m thinking that’s bad business for Arsenal.

I thought Wenger was about as shrewd an operator as there is transfer wise, like a big budget version of Portsmouth’s Harry Redknapp. And not just because he spotted the world class talent in the likes of Henry and Vieira when others couldn’t see it.

A few years ago when wantaway Frenchman Nicolas Anelka demanded a move from Arsenal to Madrid, Wenger got around £23 million for The Incredible Sulk, who hasn’t really distinguished himself since. Bouncing around between PSG, Liverpool, Manchester City, Fenerbahçe and last but least Bolton Wanderers probably wasn’t the glittering career the striker had in mind.

But Ashley Cole’s transfer to Chelsea wasn’t quite as shrewd. Wenger valued Cole at £20 million plus, but wound up with an aging William Gallas and £5million in spare change. Not quite the same from a monetary standpoint.

And while it’s probably only a matter of time before Baptista begins bowling over Premiership defenders like he did in La Liga, he hasn’t exactly set Ashburton Grove alight so far. Though England might not suit Reyes’ shopping habits, he definitely had his moments in the Premiership and gave the club a nice, pacey dimension on the left wing. The Spaniard is also loving life back in Spain, hard to say if his Brazilian replacement can say the same about gloomy London (all South Americans love playing footy on the beach and stuff…or something).

So if it comes down to a straight swap next summer, is Wenger getting a good deal financially? Probably not.

But maybe part of Wenger’s transfer market success is that he sees beyond the price tags. So even if Reyes is worth more than Baptista, and maybe Ashley Cole is worth more than William Gallas plus change – when things like dressing room morale or team harmony enter the equation he knows that unhappy players are next to worthless.