(h/t to Jellomon for her FanPost on this)
One of the charges levied against Arsene Wenger and Arsenal in the last few transfer seasons was that they didn't want to spend money. Another was that Wenger seemed to have no coherent plan; a big player would leave and something called a Chu-Young Park would come in, and that cycle would repeat itself over a few years. Arsenal, for better or worse, are a very closed club when it comes to dealings; they don't "leak" information the way other clubs do, they don't have friendly journalists through which they can publish rumors-as-news to see how it would fly.
When you combine that closed communication policy with the incessant coverage of other teams' dealings, it makes Arsenal look overly conservative and like they aren't doing anything, when in reality they're working like mad behind the scenes to get things done.
In an interview published this week on the mothership, Wenger is asked about the Özil transfer, Arsenal's transfer dealings in general, and how Wenger feels about Mathieu Flamini's return to the club.
If you were one of those who thought/thinks that Arsene and Arsenal don't really know what they're doing in any given transfer window, this interview is required reading, and here's why:
On the Özil transfer:
The timing of the deal was linked to the Gareth Bale deal, but also all the other deals as well because Real Madrid bought Illarramendi and Isco in the summer. When I first contacted Real Madrid, things were quite open. They also needed time for Carlo Ancelotti to get to know his squad better, so he could make a decision. So all these aspects put together explains why it happened so late.
We had a big advantage, and that was that I had been in contact with Mesut before, when he first went to Real Madrid three years ago. I spoke to him back then on the phone, in the end he told me he wanted to go to Real Madrid, so I wished him well, but that first contact had been made. He knew that I wanted him for a long time, and this was not the first time I tried to sign him.
On Arsenal's transfer policy and whether Özil's buy changes things:
No, the policy is exactly the same - I always want to bring the best players in here, world-class players, at the best possible price. And I want to continue to educate 60 to 80 per cent of the squad ourselves. The culture of the Club, the way we want to play football and the way we want to behave, comes from within.
On Arsenal's willingness and ability to spend:
Of course, it's a big responsibility to spend that amount of money. But I feel comfortable with it because we had the money to do it. Before we couldn't have done it because we didn't have the money available. It's as simple as that. I had a huge sense of responsibility when we built the stadium to get the Club through it without going bankrupt. The first years were difficult, and also explained why we lost some players.
On whether Arsenal would have liked to add more players over the summer:
Well let's not forget that at Sunderland we started in midfield with Wilshere, Ramsey, Flamini and Ozil. On top of that, who did not play? Cazorla, Arteta, Chamberlain, Podolski, Rosicky. So you realise football is not just about adding more players together. (emphasis mine)
You have to give them a chance to play, you have to give a chance to players like Ramsey and Chamberlain at some point. One year ago, people were questioning Ramsey. But why is he where he is today? Because we kept faith in him and gave him a chance, so you have to find the right balance between developing players and adding more quality.
And finally, on Flamini's return:
This Mathieu Flamini is more experienced than the one we had nearly 10 years ago of course, and has a knowledge of what is needed at the top level. But I also think he has a bigger love for the Club now because he realises what he left behind when he left Arsenal. He has come back with a great desire. I must say I was a bit reluctant to sign him at first, because I didn't like to sign the same players twice.
I feel it's important that once players leave here, they know it's not that easy to change your mind and get another chance. It's important the players know it's not down to them if they come back or not. But in the end there is only one important thing, and that's the best interest of Arsenal Football Club. So if you come to the conclusion that it's the right signing to make, you have to do it.
There's a lot more really good stuff in the interview than this - go check it out. And seriously, if this doesn't change your mind about Wenger and Arsenal's transfer dealings, there is probably no hope that anything ever will. Arsene knows what he's doing, and he has the club's backing to do it as he sees fit. That's enough for me.