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‘The budget isn’t £40m’ – Arsenal directors refute transfer claims and reveal recruitment plans

14:55 EAT 27/07/2019
Unai Emery Arsenal 2018-19
Managing director Vinai Venkatesham and head of football Raul Sanllehi have shed light on the Gunners’ hopes for the rest of the summer window

Arsenal’s managing director Vinai Venkatesham has refuted claims that the club only have £40 million ($50m) to spend this summer, while head of football Raul Sanllehi is expecting further movement before the window slams shut.

It had been suggested that Gunners boss Unai Emery would have to work on another limited budget as those in north London endeavour to force their way back into contention for Champions League qualification.

Venkatesham is, however, adamant that no cap has been put on spending, with deals having already been tied up for William Saliba and Dani Ceballos and there the promise of more to come.

He told fans at the annual supporters’ club Q&A: “I don’t recognise this £40m figure, I have read it a lot. That doesn’t come from us, that doesn’t come from the club. The numbers never come from us.

“We never ever, ever, ever talk about how much money we have to spend because that’s the least helpful thing you can do. Raul’s job is hard enough, if you go into a negotiation and everyone knows how much money you’ve got, it doesn’t really help.

“It is true that our funds are more limited after three years in the Europa League, but the budget isn’t £40m. We have the budget to make a difference but this is a particularly tough window and we’re in the middle of it. I sense and understand the frustration, but there is a huge amount of misinformation out there in the market.

“I read and am sent articles about players we’re supposed to have missed out on and they’re players we’ve never even talked about. I get why sometimes it’s hard for fans to understand what we’re doing, but I’d say that’s because about 85% of what you read just isn’t true.”

Arsenal continue to be linked with the likes of Celtic defender Kieran Tierney and Lille forward Nicolas Pepe, with Sanllehi conceding that talks with targets are ongoing.

He said when asked if a centre-half would be acquired for this season, with Saliba set to spend the 2019-20 campaign back on loan at St Etienne: “I cannot say a name because I wouldn’t be doing my job.

“If I say a name, I walk out the door tonight and he’s £10m more expensive. The transfer window is a moving target, I have been doing this for 16 years now and I know that some windows are harder than others. This is a particularly hard window. When I talk with other clubs, this is a common knowledge.

“There is a bit of stagnation in the market and you don’t see the number of signings you normally see just yet. I don’t know exactly how things will turn out, but I can assure you we are working every hour of every day. I think it’s a bit like school, where you evaluate your grade at the end of the school year and not in the middle.

“What is most important is to talk with the coach, about how he is feeling about the team, what system he wants to play. He knows more than anyone, more than me, about what he wants. We’re going to do our best and we will keep working, but I will not mention any names.

“Edu joined us recently and is doing great work, but he is not going to be responsible for this window, I want to make this very clear. His real job is going to start in September and he will start planning and working with scouts then. Having said that, he is helping us now, but it would be unfair to say this window is him.”