Kim Kallstrom [R] is set for a spell on the sidelines after signing for Arsenal on transfer deadline day. Reuters
When Arsenal confirmed the signing of Kim Kallstrom from Spartak Moscow on a loan deal, it was not met with much enthusiasm. But that indifference was turned into what-on-earth-was-Wenger-thinking when it became clear Kallstrom would miss a significant amount of playing time with a back injury.
With Wenger only deciding to sign a midfielder owing to the injuries suffered to the likes of Aaron Ramsey and Jack Wilshere, it made absolutely no sense, at least on the face of it, to make a move for a player who will not be available for the entire month of February and possibly beyond that.
Wenger admitted he had known about the injury to Kallstrom before making the signing, but insisted he was left with little choice owing to time constraints, having clinched the Sweden international's signature on deadline day of the January transfer window.
"[Being fit at the end of February] is the best-case scenario," Wenger said. "I'm sure if you have played football you might have played with a micro-fracture of your vertebra without even noticing it because on a normal scan you don't find out. He might play before that [the end of February] but he might play as well later.
"I would not have signed him if we had two or three more days to do something, but it was Friday night at five o'clock, so it was [a case of] you [sign] nobody or you do it under these conditions.
Wenger also revealed Spartak would pay Kallstrom's wages until the midfielder was passed fit to play in an Arsenal shirt.
"Spartak Moscow accepted to share the costs -- as long as he's injured they will pay," Wenger added.
The Arsenal manager defended his decision to acquire an already injured player due to the fact that Ramsey, Arsenal's best player this season, suffered a setback, which is likely to keep him out of action for a further six weeks.
"It crossed my mind after the [setback] of Ramsey, because everybody says he is back in six weeks but because he had two setbacks who can guarantee that it will not last longer? And after Tuesday night of course, because Wilshere couldn't play [at Southampton]... it was not a 200 percent need, we could have gone without, but first of all you must identify a player who has the quality to play for us, in January," he said.
"Then, because we have the number of players needed in that area, not to be locked in a deal of three or four years, where you pay the players to do nothing. So to find a player on a free loan, of that quality, on Wednesday morning until Friday night, is not easy."
But surely, Wenger would have considered pulling out of the deal for Kallstrom, knowing the risks that the signing came with. "Of course it crossed my mind," Wenger said. "I decided to do it because we might, because of the number of games we have now in February, need the players in March or April. There is a possibility [that he may not play] but as well there is the possibility that he scores us the winning goal that might be vitally important.
"At some stage in our job you have to make a decision. Are you wrong or right? You will only know at the end of the season. I made this decision because, since the start of the season, all our central midfielders have missed a part of the season -- whether it's [Mathieu] Flamini, Wilshere, [Mikel] Arteta, [Alex Oxlade] Chamberlain or [Santi] Cazorla. All of them have had injuries and it can happen that a few of them miss the next part [of the season] together. It's true that in the first four to six weeks we have not sorted that problem out."
The Kallstrom signing was a bit of an anti-climax not only because of the injury issues, but also the fact that the Gunners were heavily linked with a move for exciting playmaker Julian Draxler from Schalke, with several reports at the time insisting a deal was imminent.
Wenger, yet again, insisted Arsenal are not shy of spending money in the transfer market, after the club reportedly pulled out of the deal after Schalke demanded a £37 million fee, which the manager felt was too much for a 20-year-old, albeit a seriously talented one.
"We are not against spending, but at the moment we are focused on the second part of the season, and at the end of the season we will see what we will do," Wenger added. "You have announced a lot of transfers in your papers that have not happened, in many places, that means it is not as easy as it looks, even with money, to buy the right players in that period."
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