Wenger at a crossroads as Nasri, Clichy and Fabregas edge towards Arsenal exit

The letter that Arsene Wenger wrote to a disgruntled fan revealed many things. It showed that the Arsenal manager is the kind of man willing to take the time to write a frank and detailed letter to an unhappy supporter, which is to be commended. It also reveals that Arsenal have a manager that cares about the long term sustainability of the club, ensuring “affordable debt and non-reliance on ownership.” Where most managers are consumed with looking out for number one in a cutthroat industry, Wenger has put the long term interests of the club ahead of short term gain, well aware that his career and reputation is on the line.

The letter also highlighted that Wenger is well aware of his side’s shortcomings, the frustration and impatience of fans and that pressure has paralysed his young side on occasions. His well-documented stubborn nature with regards to team building and transfer market dealings, while essential to maintaining Arsenal’s top four status during the period involving their move to the Emirates Stadium, continues to linger, despite glaring inadequacies within the current squad. Reasoning that the limited number of appearances made by Cesc Fabregas, Robin van Persie and Thomas Vermaelen last season were not insignificant in relation to their shortcomings, Wenger also states: “We will try to do the right thing” in terms of recruitment, suggesting that the status quo looks set to continue.

The letter was written on June 1 and much has changed since then – the “strong base” that Wenger refers to now looks likely to be picked apart in the coming weeks. The assumption that Gael Clichy and Samir Nasri were angling for improved deals appears to be wide of the mark, with Manchester City stepping up their interest in signing the unsettled full-back. Barcelona have funds in place for a marquee signing and appear to have their sights set on finally landing Fabregas. Critics may see these departures as players voting with their feet, finally losing patience with Wenger’s inability to address flaws in the squad but coincidence or financial motivations are equally likely.

With the new season fast approaching and a significant transfer fund Wenger will have to take the hand brake off and embrace the transfer market this summer, otherwise the impatient grumbling of a few will quickly become the vocal majority. The imminent signing of Lille’s Gervinho should provide a source of goals from wide that Arsenal have lacked since Robert Pires graced their left flank, while Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain could soon follow from Southampton. Blackburn Rovers’ Chris Samba and Bolton Wanderers’ Gary Cahill are frequently linked, along with Anderlecht’s powerful teen prodigy Romelu Lukaku, and the likes of Aaron Ramsey and Kieran Gibbs are also on hand to make the step up.

Wenger has been backed in to a corner, and whether he will silence his critics with a new and improved Arsenal side or dig in his heels and trust the talent at his disposal once more may define his tenure.

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