The Gunners were heavily linked with a swoop for Barcelona striker David Villa, despite the Catalan club’s reluctance to sell the Spain forward.
Arsenal snapped up defender Nacho Monreal from Malaga on deadline day – and Wenger says the north Londoners were trying to sign another player before Thursday.
“We were close to one more signing,” Wenger said. “It didn’t happen because of the desires of the clubs to sell or not to sell. It was not a money problem, but a desire from other clubs.
“Football looks to be an exception in our society [when it comes to spending]. I always say it cannot last much longer, but I am always proved wrong on that.”
Wenger added: “The teams at the top didn’t buy at all. The teams at the bottom did buy. This is explainable by the fact that strengthening the teams at the top at this stage of the season is nearly impossible.
“Teams today are so scared to go out of the Premier League that they will do anything not to go down.”