Arsene Wenger believes that Arsenal’s football philosophy and the way the club treats players are key factors behind so many former squad members wanting to return to North London.
Accepting that Champions League qualification remains the chief draw for most top players, the boss still teased that he has players, both old and new, eager to play for the Gunners.
“The Champions League is, of course, the needed requirement for the top players,” he told press ahead of the match with Fulham.
“The players say, ‘OK, we want to join Arsenal. We want to play the kind of football you play. But as well, we want to play in the Champions League.’ It’s unfortunately like that.
“Look, many players want to join us, because they know. And even more so, all the players who have been here want to come back here.
“It’s not because they like my face! It’s for the way we treat people and for the football we play – or try to play, because unfortunately we’ve not always managed to do it.
“But they find something here they want to know again when they go somewhere else and many, many, many players, believe me, ask me to come back.”
Talking with one eye on a possible deal for ex-Gunner Mathieu Flamini, currently training at London Colney having turned down a new deal at AC Milan, the boss continued:
“They all want to come back. I don’t know if it is Arsenal or England, but there is something about it, certainly both,” said Wenger.
“Does he (Flamini) regret leaving? You should ask him this question, it would be better. I didn’t ask him that. Would he be ready to come back here? Certainly, yes.
“He works very hard, he has always been a very dedicated player. He has the required (fitness) level. He doesn’t come from a small club. He has played here, and in Milan, and in Marseille.”
Of course, as the Luis Suarez saga has underlined, even when a player expresses an interest in moving to a club it doesn’t necessarily ensure smooth passage of a deal.
Quizzed on why he’s no longer trying to sign the Uruguayan striker, Wenger (not for the first time) spoke of the need for an agreement not just with a player but also his club.
“That’s part of the fact you need three agreements for anybody. It’s true that it is sometimes connected with other clubs. But we have to accept that.
“I don’t want to speak in detail about that. It’s not the moment. One day, why not? I’ve just said it’s over. We have to get on with our lives.”
With Real Madrid apparently sniffing around the player, the boss drew a line under the matter by highlighting that failed transfers are part and parcel of the game.
“You seem to know as much as I know about the situation so I don’t think we need for me to clarify that.
“You’ve certainly tried to go out with a girl and find she has chosen someone else. You don’t commit suicide.”