Wenger ad­mits club may strug­gle to sign play­ers

The Irish Times - Sports Weekend - - SOCCER -

Arsene Wenger ad­mits his fail­ure to re­turn Ar­se­nal to the Cham­pi­ons League may mean his suc­ces­sor strug­gles to at­tract sign­ings to the club. The Lon­don club will be without Cham­pi­ons League foot­ball for a sec­ond sea­son next year after

Wenger’s side crashed out of the Europa League at the semi-fi­nal stage fol­low­ing a 2-1 ag­gre­gate de­feat to Atletico Madrid. The win­ners of that com­pe­ti­tion earn a spot in the Cham­pi­ons League but, fol­low­ing their exit and the fact they are set to fin­ish sixth in the Premier League – the low­est po­si­tion since Wenger took charge in 1996 – means the Emi­rates Sta­dium will not host elite-level Euro­pean com­pe­ti­tion next sea­son.

While end­ing his 21-year stay without any sil­ver­ware will be dif­fi­cult for the French­man, Wenger also con­ceded a lack of Cham­pi­ons League foot­ball could pre­vent Ar­se­nal land­ing big-name play­ers un­der the new man­ager.

“It’s pos­si­ble yes,” Wenger replied when asked by Sky Sports if an ab­sence of Cham­pi­ons League foot­ball could af­fect Ar­se­nal’s abil­ity to at­tract sign­ings. “But I think we have enough qual­ity in­side the club and you al­ways find one or two play­ers who are happy to join the club.”

Wenger’s last home game in charge will come at home to Burn­ley to­mor­row, with Ar­se­nal plan­ning to show their ap­pre­ci­a­tion. Post-match speeches will take place as well as a re­ported guard of hon­our for the out­go­ing 68-year-old. It re­mains to be seen how sup­port­ers re­act given he de­parts fol­low­ing an­other dis­ap­point­ing cam­paign which has seen him come un­der scru­tiny once again.

Emo­tional oc­ca­sion

Asked if to­mor­row prom­ises to be an emo­tional oc­ca­sion, Wenger replied as only he could, sug­gest­ing his Ar­se­nal “love story” is one that lacks a happy end­ing. “I feel sad be­cause I love this club and what the club rep­re­sents and you don’t leave 22 years of your life and just walk away easy.

“I have dealt with dif­fi­cult sit­u­a­tions in my life and I will do it again. I had some time to ad­just to do that and get that idea into my head. It’s sad but all the love sto­ries come to an end and they do not al­ways fin­ish well. Most of the time, they don’t fin­ish well!”

Wenger again re­it­er­ated he will not play a part in ap­point­ing his suc­ces­sor, as Alex Fer­gu­son did when David Moyes re­placed the Scot at Manch­ester United. “I will not be in­volved in that,” he said.

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