“But, after we sold the younger players like Fabregas – 24 and 25 – so we would have loved to have kept these players.”
Wenger enjoyed great success during his first ten years at Arsenal, winning three Premier League titles in the period between 1998-2004.
However, the Gunners’ move to the Emirates Stadium in 2006 meant tighter budget restraints that led to the club having to sell some of their best players to pay back the stadium mortgage.
Arsène Wenger explains how he had to part with a big player every season in order for his side to make the move to the Emirates Stadium & reveals some of the players he wished he had kept at Arsenal. #beINPL #LEILIV
— beIN SPORTS (@beINSPORTS_EN) February 13, 2021
“Many times,” Wenger replied. “Because you always have to manage the club with the financial potential that you have and respect the financial constraints.”
Keys then asked whether Arsenal would “have gone bust” if Wenger didn’t authorise the sales of their best players.
“Of course,” Wenger explained.
“Every year. We had to pay the stadium back at the time, we needed to be in the top four and we needed to pay our mortgage back.”
Wenger relished the challenge of working under the strict guidelines imposed on him by the Arsenal hierarchy and looks back at that period as the best of his managerial career.
“I accepted this challenge and I think it’s a period where I worked the most efficient and the best for the club,” Wenger explained.
“I’ve told you before it’s what you leave behind that’s important.
“The stadium is paid, Arsenal can invest money and hopefully win championships again.”
Arsene Wenger would loved to have kept Cesc Fabregas when asked by Keys if there was one player he’d have loved to not have sold.
“I would say at the start when I arrived, the players I sold had at least given a longer period to the club like Patrick Vieira, like Thierry Henry, who had stayed eight, nine years at the club,” Wenger stated.
“They’d given their best to the club. Of course, you’d like to keep them but I could understand it.
“They told me ‘we have a young team now, we can’t win a championship with a young team, I want to go and finish my career by winning.’ ”
Selling younger players during their prime was one of the Frenchman’s biggest regrets at Arsenal.
“But, after we sold the younger players like Fabregas – 24 and 25 (years old) – so we would have loved to have kept these players.”
“For example, yes,” replied Wenger when pushed on whether Fabregas was the player.
“Many of them, Kolo Toure, Fabregas, Van Persie, they all left when they were younger.”