The Frenchman overseen Arsenal change from a relatively high-spending club at Highbury to a budget-balancing outfit at the Emirates Stadium. Few in football understand the economy of the game like Wenger.
Working as a pundit for BeIN SPORTS, Wenger was asked to provide his insight. The topic of Chelsea came up, and Wenger was asked what he thought the new owners would need to do.
Wenger, after all, seen Chelsea change from a cup team and a rare competitor for more serious honours into a juggernaut who left his Arsenal team – and just about everyone else – in the dust.
Given how long Abramovich owned the Blues and how much the club changed under his ownership, it is hard to envisage the club under new stewardship. According to Wenger, though, the club should be wary of what comes next.
What did Arsene Wenger say about the new Chelsea ownership?
When asked about the Abramovich era, Wenger said: ‘I would say he was the first big investor [before] the Glazers to come in, at a golden period for a guy that was a billionaire. There was no Financial Fair Play, you could put as much money in as you wanted,’
However, the former Monaco manager was also quick to point out that football in 2022 was a very different place to the early 2000s. Speaking about that, Wenger added: ‘Today, with the FFP, I would not necessarily advise somebody to come in to fight against Manchester City, Chelsea, Liverpool, who are lightyears ahead of them, to build a good team – because you cannot invest the money you want to invest. So it is much more difficult today. But he came in at the golden period and I give him credit.’
On what Abramovich had changed, Wenger said: ‘He understood quickly what to do, put competent people in charge who managed the club very well and put him to a level that is absolutely outstanding. I have a lot of respect for what he did.’
He finished, though, by noticing that you cannot spend the same way that Chelsea did in the past, remarking: ‘You cannot. Today you cannot put that money in, privately, that is impossible. It is limited to, I think, £200m over three years. At that time you could put a billion in.
‘I always advised people who wanted to buy football clubs, instead of putting £100m in every year, put £500m in in the first year and buy the right players, then you have a team. He could do that and he did very well and today I think the club is managed very well and is at a top level.’
Did he believe Chelsea would continue to progress? Wenger added: ‘It is still sustainable as a football club today because they are at a good level. But after that when you come in it is down to money and good decisions.’
So, for Blues fans, when even Wenger believes the Abramovich era was a success, it is hard to disagree. What comes next, though, as the Frenchman notes, will be very different to anything we have ever known.