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Arsenal, Everton cool about United’s spending spree

SINGAPORE — Manchester United’s aggressiveness in the transfer market over the weekend may have been a surprise to some, but not for at least two of the club’s rivals.

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger (picture) insists that Mesut Ozil will remain a Gunners player. Photo: Ernest Chua

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger (picture) insists that Mesut Ozil will remain a Gunners player. Photo: Ernest Chua

SINGAPORE — Manchester United’s aggressiveness in the transfer market over the weekend may have been a surprise to some, but not for at least two of the club’s rivals.

In the space of 72 hours, the record 20-time English league champions unveiled about £76 million (S$160.3 million) in total worth of signings in Dutch winger Memphis Depay from PSV Eindhoven, Italian defender Matteo Darmian from Torino, German World Cup winner Bastian Schweinsteiger from Bayern Munich, and Southampton’s highly-rated French midfielder Morgan Schneiderlin.

But their Premier League rivals Arsenal and Everton, who arrived in Singapore yesterday for this week’s Barclays Asia Trophy, shrugged off United’s clear show of intent that they do not intend to finish empty-handed for a third successive season.

“We knew Manchester United will not be happy to finish outside of the top three and that they will respond,” said Wenger, 65, shortly after arriving at the JetQuay terminal in Changi Airport yesterday. “They came out thinking that they had to rebuild and they did it by buying two important players in Schweinsteiger and Schneiderlin.”

Everton manager Roberto Martinez, whose squad arrived shortly after Arsenal, also said: “It is what we expected. We expected a lot of business to be done with every team in the league spending a lot of money to try to win the title and that makes it very hard to not just win the title but also to get into the top four positions.”

Arsenal, along with Manchester City and United, are expected to pose the biggest threat to Chelsea’s hopes of retaining their Premier League crown. On paper at least, United’s new signings are expected to significantly bolster their chances of regaining the Premier League title they last won in 2013 under former manager Alex Ferguson.

Said Wenger: “Schneiderlin is going to be a top-level (player) and Schweinsteiger has done it all, but it will be interesting to see how they mix with the other players.”

In the meantime, the Arsenal manager also rubbished talk that German international Mesut Ozil could be quitting the Emirates for Italian Serie A champions Juventus.

“During this period, the newspapers are creative and they have to be,” said Wenger. “Ozil is our player and he will remain our player. He also wants to remain our player.”

Ozil is part of Arsenal’s squad in Singapore, which is hosting the Barclays Asia Trophy for the first time.

BARCLAYS ASIA TROPHY

Date/Venue: July 15 and 18, National Stadium

Schedule: July 15 — Everton v Stoke City (6pm), Arsenal v Singapore Select XI (8.30pm); July 18 — Third place playoff (6pm), Final (8.30pm)

Visit www.sportshub.com.sg for ticketing and other details.

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