LONDON - Arsene Wenger has already broken Arsenal’s transfer record this summer - and may do so again - but he remains firm in the belief that winning trophies is not everything.
The Frenchman paid £52 million for striker Alexandre Lacazette and could end up splashing out more than that for Monaco winger Thomas Lemar as he seeks to improve on last season’s disappointing fifth-place finish.
But Wenger, who resisted calls for his resignation from sections of the club’s support to sign a two-year contract in May, has insisted that silverware is not the most important thing following his arrival in Australia for the first leg of the club’s summer tour.
‘We want to win trophies but you cannot live inside a club thinking we want to win the next trophy and if you don’t win it then you have lost,’ he said.
‘The club is something bigger than that and has a stronger basis than that. On a personal level, I want to win every game. When we lose a game I’m absolutely mad and sad, but it is part of being a coach.’
Lacazette will make his debut Down Under, while interest in Lemar remains as Arsenal chase their first Premier League title since 2004. But Wenger has vowed to stick to his principles despite what could be the most expensive transfer window in the club’s history.
‘I’ve stayed here for a long time because of the values I hold close to me,’ he said. ‘One is to win trophies but more importantly it is to know who we are, and what is important to us in the game. It is that basis which wins football games and that’s what I will do until the end of my career.’
Speaking at his first press conference in Australia, Wenger also warned Manchester City off Alexis Sanchez and vowed that Olivier Giroud will stay.
Last season, the Frenchman said he would not let Chile forward Sanchez, who is in the final year of his contract, join a Premier League rival.
And he reiterated that stance. ‘The pressure starts again at the first press conference,’ he said when asked about Sanchez.
‘We’ll see. It is a continuation of what I said at the end of the season. It is in his interests to do as well as he can. Nobody knows today if he will be in the final year next season because he can extend the contract with us at the start or during the season, so it is not necessarily the last year of his contract.’
Wenger, who denied reports in Chile that Sanchez had told him he wants to leave, was resolute. ‘The players have contracts and we expect them to respect them,’ he said.
Doubts have been raised over the future of fellow striker Giroud, with Everton, Marseille and AC Milan ready to swoop, but Wenger wants to keep the 30-year-old.
‘We extended his contract last year,’ he said. ‘Our resolution is clear. He’s been great value to the squad and he is a great lover of the club. He’s always been determined to stay.’
Arsenal have made two bids for Monaco winger Lemar and Wenger, who also confirmed an interest in £120m-rated Monaco teenager Kylian Mbappe, suggested a third was not far away.
‘There is nothing really concrete about any signings,’ he said. ‘He (Lemar) is a player we follow.’