Arsene Wenger has suggested that Liverpool were likely to have approached Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain before hosting Arsenal at Anfield on 27 August, a practice he hopes will be finished now that the Premier League will shut the transfer window before the start of the season.
Speaking before the Premier League’s announcement, Wenger again stated his support for the change, saying that it was not fair to have players who are “half-out and half-in” when the season gets underway.
Oxlade-Chamberlain played for Arsenal when they lost 4-0 at Anfield, and four days later he moved to Liverpool for £35m. Wenger did not accuse Liverpool of any wrongdoing, and said that it was “inevitable” clubs would talk to rivals’ players during the season under current rules.
Wenger believes that tapping up is rife, and when asked about it he said: “You are not naïve enough to think that will not happen.” He was asked specifically about the Liverpool match, and whether any of his players were approached by Liverpool on the day of that game. He said he did not know, but then said: “Have they been tapped up? Of course. But on the day of a game? I don’t think so, I hope not. But it’s inevitable.”
On deadline day Arsenal tried to sign Thomas Lemar, but he turned down a move from Monaco to the Emirates hours before playing for France against Holland and scoring twice. Wenger did not mention Lemar by name, but did mention that match. “France played against Holland on the last day of the transfer window,” Wenger said. “Do you really think that not one French player or Dutch player had phonecalls in the afternoon about do they move or not? Not naïve enough to believe that. That’s why you have to scrap it before the season starts.”
Oxlade-Chamberlain was criticised for a distracted performance at Anfield but Wenger said that the Liverpool approach should not necessarily have put him off his game. “If I am a football player, I can perform even if Liverpool is in my head,” Wenger said. “I don’t think that should stop you to perform. Did it? I think he was not worse than any other player on the football pitch.” When asked whether he regretted playing Oxlade-Chamberlain when his future was in doubt, Wenger said he “did not want to go into individual cases” and was speaking “in general”.