Wenger's confusing stance on Arsenal signing Berbatov

Berbatov Fulham

Arsenal saw Dimitar Berbatov play a part in all three goals against them on Saturday. Could it have been oh so different?

One of our readers this summer called for Arsenal to use a little more imagination with regards to their player sales. For instance, when selling Cesc Fabregas to Barcelona, why not insist on a young talent like Cristian Tello in part-exchange?

The specific suggestion was regarding Robin van Persie and Manchester City - with the call that the Gunners should attempt to sign either Edin Dzeko or John Guidetti as part of any deal.

It was a reasonable shout, and made a lot of sense. After all, Arsenal as the selling club held all the cards - No matter what their captain's contract situation said, they still could have kept him on for another year and played hardball if they did not get the offer they wanted.

In the end, Arsenal did receive a satisfactory offer - From Manchester United for £24 million. Arsene Wenger and the Arsenal board signed off on it, and it was a seismic deal as far as the landscape of the Premier League went.

After the weekend's 3-3 draw with Fulham at the Emirates, Wenger was quizzed as to if he had attempted to sign Berbatov in part-exchange as part of the Van Persie transfer, with the Bulgarian back to his imperious best, scoring twice and assisting another.

So what did the manager say? Did he respond by saying...

a) I did try, but Sir Alex didn't want to sell to a rival club...

b) I asked, but Berbatov wanted to sign for a club where he would play regularly.

c) I didn't know he was on the transfer list.

Sadly and embarrassingly for Arsenal fans, Wenger answered with C.

Which leaves us to ask, how could he not know?

This is a manager who forged his early reputation at Arsenal on his astuteness in the transfer market, via his knowledge of the game and scouting network.

In recent years he has been a bit more hit and miss, as the acquisitions last summer of Andre Santos and Park Chu-Young demonstrate. 

Berbatov's availability was no secret. The player had pleaded several times for an escape route, making just five league starts last season for United.

He had Ferguson's blessing to move to a new side, with United asking for as little as £5 million for his signature. It was a miracle it took so long to resolve, with his switch to Fulham sealed on deadline day.

We are betting there will be quite a few clubs kicking themselves they did not take a punt on the Bulgarian, given his excellent form this season. Had Arsenal insisted on Berbatov as part of the Van Persie deal, they still would have received £19 million for the bean counters at the Emirates to add to the accounts.

It isn't the fact Wenger chose not to ask after Berbatov which perplexes us, he may have considered him not right for Arsenal, but to comment he did not even know the striker was available is a little bemusing, if not worrying.

Should Arsenal have tried to get Berbatov as part of the deal? What did you make of Wenger's comment?

image: © nicksarebi

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