Wenger: Sagas drained Gunners

BY foxsports • August 24, 2011

Having previously insisted contract rebel Nasri would not be sold, Wenger admitted he simply could not hold on to someone who was not committed to the Gunners in the long-term. Arsenal announced Nasri would be travelling to Manchester for a medical shortly before they boarded a plane to Italy for tomorrow night's crunch Champions League play-off round second leg at Udinese. The timing was no coincidence, the Gunners keeping their fans - and possibly City - guessing until the last minute whether the France star would be on the flight after he trained with his soon-to-be-former team-mates this morning. However, playing Nasri tomorrow night would have cup-tied him, thereby knocking millions off his transfer value. City are reportedly paying in the region of £24million for the 24-year-old, a figure Wenger admitted represented good business if it meant not losing the midfielder for nothing next summer. But the loss of Nasri remains another blow for the beleaguered Wenger, who last week lost an even longer fight to keep captain Cesc Fabregas out of the clutches of Barcelona. Wenger said: "The summer was very difficult because we had Cesc Fabregas and Nasri on permanent transfer negotiations and that is draining in the end. "We lost two great players and that's a sad side of the story but at some stage it has to be over, because you want to focus on the future." Yet, with £10million in prize-money on the line tomorrow, Wenger might have gambled on playing Nasri and taking a hit on his transfer fee. He said: "You cannot think only about one game in the season and the decision had a logic but it is of course, as well, a business interest. "But, overall, what you want is that you have players who do not play and think they go the next morning. It's not ideal as well. "So you want players who are completely committed to the long-term, to defend our chances." Wenger admitted he was now short in midfield and would need to move quickly to fill the void, with the transfer window closing in little over a week. Rennes' Yann M'Vila has been linked, as has Lille's Eden Hazard, although the latter's club has insisted their man is not for sale. Phil Jagielka has long been a reported target, while Wenger tonight denied making any move for Lazio's Mauro Zarate and Fiorentina's Riccardo Montolivo. Asked if it was naive to think the Nasri deal could have been finalised sooner to avoid such a late rush, Wenger said: "It's not naive but what you forget maybe is that it doesn't depend only on us. "We wanted to sort all these cases out very early after the summer, but it wasn't possible. "And the pace is not only dictated by us, unfortunately." Wenger also warned his remaining players he would not tolerate them using the departures of Nasri and Fabregas as "an excuse" for failing to perform. He added: "You're always concerned of the consequences it can have on the team. "It can as well have a positive consequence. "If you're strong mentally, you can increase the solidarity, knowing you'll have to fight more, and that's what you ideally want from strong mentally players." Wenger insisted he was tough enough to cope with the traumatic fortnight that he is currently enduring, which has brought no end of injuries and suspensions - both for himself and his players - as well as misery on the transfer front. Asked if this was the most challenging time he has faced in his 15 years in charge, he said: "I believe that's part of my job. I'm not at all destabilised by that. "Overall, my job is to give my best to do well for my club and that's what I do with complete belief in the team and the players I have available. "I think that's the best opportunity to show as well that we are good enough to fight for this club." Failing to make the Champions League group stages would represent a new low and Wenger was wary of the threat of Udinese, who only trail 1-0 after the first leg. Singling out dangermen Mauricio Isla and Antonio Di Natale, he added: "We need a good, solid defensive performance. "But we have experience in the Champions League and that's a good way to use it tomorrow night."

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