Arsène Wenger has taken a swipe at Jose Mourinho over the Chelsea manager’s claims that clubs should be deducted points for failing to meet financial fair play rules.
Mourinho has fixed his sights on Chelsea’s Premier League title rivals Manchester City for spending £28 million on the striker Wilfried Bony in January, despite being hit with FFP sanctions last summer.
Wenger has accused Chelsea of “financial doping” and the Arsenal manager also hit out at the west London club’s apparent failure to comply with FFP after spending £75 million in January 2011 on Fernando Torres and David Luiz. In the past couple of years, Chelsea have balanced the books by selling players to fund incoming transfers, but Wenger clearly feels that it is rich for Mourinho to lecture others on FFP.
Asked what he thought about Mourinho’s claim that clubs should be deducted points for failing to comply with FFP rules, Wenger smiled and replied: “I think we have a good sense of humour here.”
Invited to expand on that comment, the Arsenal manager said: “Look, the financial fair play rules have to be respected by everybody and if one club respected always the financial fair play, and you can underline always, it’s Arsenal, then we do not have to talk about that.”
Wenger believes that a lack of clarity surrounding FFP has created loopholes for clubs to exploit and the Frenchman admitted that he no longer knew the exact rules.
“It depends what you call financial fair play, as that notion has changed you know,” Wenger said. “Is it is just your income created by the gates? Is it the gates and commercial? Then you can already start to be creative.
Is it only the gates and the television? Is it naming rights as well? It is not clear to people what financial fair play means, the rules are very complicated.
“The Premier League rules and European rules are different already. You have to be aligned, so everybody knows exactly what it means.
“We are a popular sport. So you want clear and simple rules for everybody to understand. If I ask 10 people in the street today and if you ask me, and I am in the job, I don’t have a clear idea anymore of what it means. I would like the rules to be clear and that everybody respects them.”
Wenger spent £30 million on Alexis Sánchez in the summer and the forward has proved to be one of the signings of the season. Without Sánchez, Arsenal lost against their north London rivals Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday but the Chile international is expected to be fit to face Leicester City on Tuesday night.
Sánchez has scored 12 goals and assisted another seven in the Premier League this season and the 26-year-old’s hard-working approach reminds Wenger of former Arsenal striker Ian Wright. “He is a bit like Ian Wright,” the manager said. “His enthusiasm, the enthusiasm of Ian Wright. He is dynamic and he does both parts of the game. He’s important in the team because of that.
“Sánchez wins you the ball back quickly as well. The transitions are very good from defence to attack and attack to defence.”
Despite comparing their styles of play, Wenger admitted that Sánchez was not as loud as Wright used to be and had a better disciplinary record.
“He is quieter than Ian Wright, but that is not difficult. And he doesn’t get booked,” the Arsenal manager said. “He is more with the Spanish players, of course, but he is loved by everybody. He is very friendly and bubbly every day.”
Sánchez could have played against Tottenham with the hamstring injury from which he has recovered, but Wenger underlined the importance of being careful with Arsenal’s star player.
“He had a bit of a winter break that he didn’t really want,” the Frenchman said. “But he got one and I think he will now be recovered and fit until the end of the season.
“It was difficult for him not to play [against Tottenham]. If it was the last game of the season, he would’ve played.
“For us, it is important that he has no setback as once you go into February, if you have a muscular injury and a guy has a setback, you say ‘bye bye’ as the season is over as it is six weeks out.
“By the time you come back to your full level it’s April and that is why we didn’t take the gamble.”
Meanwhile, Wenger admitted that Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s groin injury was related to the problem he suffered at the end of last season but the manager hopes to have the England international midfielder back in two weeks.