Arsene guarantees investment
By Tom Adams
Last Updated: 01/01/70 1:00am
Arsene Wenger says the funds from Patrick Vieira's sale will go towards new players.Arsene Wenger has moved to reassure Arsenal fans that the funds received by the shock sale of club captain Patrick Vieira will be ploughed back into the squad, as The Gunners come to terms with life minus their midfield inspiration.
The French international ended his trophy-laden time at Highbury to pursue a new challenge with Serie A champions Juventus, bringing the career down on close to a decade of sustained excellence in North London.
Arsenal's financial recompense for losing Vieira is £13.7 million, spread over three years, and The Gunners are in need of reinforcements to avoid overburdening the emerging young talents of Francesc Fabregas and Mathieu Flamini.
A string of players have been linked with Highbury in the aftermath of Juve's coup, with Newcastle boss Graeme Souness already moving to ward off interest in his England international Jermaine Jenas.
Wenger has now pledged that the money received from the Bianconeri will not be diverted towards the development of The Emirates Stadium, although did indicate that Vieira's departure was also a challenge for existing squad members to step up to the plate.
"The fee for him will not be used for the stadium, it will be used for the team exclusively. I can give you that guarantee," Wenger told the club's official website.
"Use it now or later in the season? I don't know. We don't have any specific financial problem linked with the new stadium.
"It's always a gamble to let a massive player go. He had a special place in our team, but it's a challenge and an opportunity for a young player to show his qualities.
"I'm confident we will be strong next season and it depends how well we overcome that psychologically and how strong our spirit will be.
"The ideal solution is, of course, before you sell to have someone to replace him, but football doesn't work like that.
"We had to play some big games without Patrick last year and that was always a massive blow but it was a good opportunity for young players to gain experience.
"That has given them confidence and they can take advantage of that at the start of the season."
Wenger has previously expressed his desire to bring two more world class players to Highbury over the summer, although has so far succeeded in recruiting only Stuttgart star Alexander Hleb.
Vieira's departure has only made the need for reinforcements more acute and Wenger admitted he was actively seeking new blood - although ruled out making a move for Lyon's Mahamadou Diarra.
"We are open (to strengthening) everywhere," Wenger continued.
"Yes, I would like somebody to come in and if the right opportunity comes along we will take it, although the timing is not the best.
"He [Diarra] is a player I like but we're not really after him.
"He's not for sale anyway. So therefore it is a name we have been linked with but we have not gone into any negotiations with his club."
Wenger also sought to allay any fears that losing their talisman would inhibit Arsenal's chances of clawing back Chelsea in the race for The Premiership next season, whilst voicing his admiration for the player who proved to be such a reliable lieutenant over the past nine years.
"You have to respect that a player can have the second part of his career somewhere else.
"It leaves a massive hole because of his quality, presence and charisma and that's not easy to replace.
"But we have done some work already with our players to face the challenge because that is what is in front of us.
"The experienced players have a big part to play now to show strength and character.
"I feel a massive player has left but that we still have enough quality to fight for the championship.
"I feel I had a special relationship with Patrick.
"He had a tremendous impact on not only Arsenal but English football in general.
"We still have a lot of talent but we are not desperate. So let's make sure everybody is fit for the season.
"Now we have to find another captain to lead the troops. I have not yet made up my mind and I have to do that in the next few weeks.
"I have many options among the experienced players but we have to stick together and work more as a unit and compensate for the massive departure of Patrick."
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