Arsenal need a £150,000-a-week title winner, says legend Adams
Former Arsenal captain Tony Adams has urged the club to break their wage structure if they want to challenge for the Premier League title.
The Gunners have failed to mount a sustained bid for the top prize since the 2007-08 campaign, when they were eventually edged into third place by Manchester United and Chelsea.
And Adams, who lifted four league championships during his 14 years as Arsenal skipper, believes the north Londoners need to offer their top stars big money to stand a chance of pushing for the title next year.
In recent years, Arsene Wenger’s side have been preoccupied with fighting ultimately unsuccessful battles to retain key players like Cesc Fabregas and Robin van Persie during the close season.
But this summer all the indications are that player recruitment is the main focus at the Emirates and Adams wants the club to concentrate on quality rather than quantity.
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“I’ve always said that, if you’re selling your best players, you’re not going to win anything,” Adams told the Gazette. “You need the best players in the league to win the league.
“You can win cup competitions now and then, but more often than not the table doesn’t lie.
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“Arsenal’s a fantastic, stable football club, with a very competitive wage bill, and I’d like them to focus now on restructuring a bit and putting a few players on top money.
“I don’t want to see them sign three, four or five average players – I want every player they bring in to be a top player that can win them the league.
“In the past they’ve maybe gambled and taken a few players at £50,000 a week. It’s tough, because you want the luxury of getting three in and maybe one will come through.
“But now they need to be really strong with their decision-making. Have the strength of your convictions and put one player on £150,000 a week and say ‘yes, he’s my man and he’s going to make the difference’.
“I think they should do that with four or five of the team. I think if you’ve got that through the spine – maybe the goalkeeper, a defender, a centre-forward, your captain – that’s the way forward.”
Adams was back in north London last weekend to play for an Arsenal Legends side in a charity fundraising match against a World Refugee Internally Displaced Persons XI at Barnet’s former Underhill home.
The match, sponsored by the European Azerbaijan Society, was staged to mark UN World Refugee Day, and attracted a crowd of 3,600 – most of them Arsenal fans.
Several other former Gunners, including Ian Wright, Michael Thomas, Paul Davis, Eddie McGoldrick and Perry Groves, featured alongside Adams in a 1-1 draw.
Double Olympic gold medallist and Arsenal fan Mo Farah managed the team, as well as making a cameo appearance during the second half, briefly partnering Wright up front.
The opposition, who included a number of refugees from Azerbaijan, Cameroon, DR Congo and Ivory Coast as well as a smattering of ex-pros, were managed by former Gunners player Fabrice Muamba – himself a refugee from DR Congo at the age of 11.
Adams, who managed Azerbaijan Premier League club Gabala for 18 months and still works for them as a football advisor, added: “There was a conflict with Armenia some years ago and one in 10 of the population are displaced from their homes.
“I was particularly aware of that because right next to the training ground at Gabala there’s a refuge for IDPs. Then the European Azerbaijan Society came to me and said ‘we’d like to put on a game, how about getting a few of your old boys together?’
“I couldn’t think of anything better than spending a Sunday playing with my buddies and raising money for the Refugee Council.
“If they wanted to do some more of these games, I’d be open to that.”