Gazidis: Wenger would sign new deal

Ivan Gazidis, the chief executive, is refusing to publicly disclose the details of any discussions with Wenger, whose contract expires next year, but says that he does anticipate an announcement “when things are all put in placeÔÇØ.


Wenger joined Arsenal in 1996 and, following the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson, is already the longest serving manager of a Premier League club by fully 14 years and also the longest serving boss at any major club in world football.

Arsenal and Wenger have generally agreed three-year contracts in the recent past and, if that was repeated, a new deal would take him to 2017 and beyond 20 years at the club.

“We think we have got a fantastic manager,ÔÇØ said Gazidis. “We hope that he wants to do what he is doing for the long term. I believe he does. I think he is still ambitious, still driven and sees the potential of the club as he looks forward and I think he is very excited by that.

“We have got a lot of confidence in Arsene that he is the right person to take the club forward and I think he will want to do that.

“We have a great relationship and he has a great relationship with the board as well. So, quietly and at the right time, I think we will make an announcement on that

“What I really don’t want to do is have a public discussion about Arsene’s contractual position. That would be a daily, weekly fixture on the public coverage if you start getting into that.

“This is going to happen very quietly behind closed doors, privately and then there will be an announcement.ÔÇØ

Such an endorsement will divide opinion among Arsenal supporters. There has been mounting frustration over recent seasons at the failure to win a trophy since 2005 but, equally, there is appreciation for the achievement of finishing in the top four in each of his 17 years at the club.

That has been accomplished in recent seasons amid the backdrop of Chelsea and Manchester CityÔÇÖs virtually unlimited spending and ArsenalÔÇÖs own financial restrictions following the move from Highbury to the Emirates.

Of those clubs in England with a comparable financial model, Arsenal have only been outperformed over the last five years by Manchester United and there is a feeling within the Emirates that WengerÔÇÖs achievement in this period has been underestimated.

There is, however, also an acceptance that an endless battle to finish in the top four cannot be the ceiling of the club’s ambitions.

“We have been through a difficult and in some ways disappointing season which ended satisfactorily,” said Gazidis.

“We finished with 73 points and in fourth place which I would say was necessary for us. We want to be competing at the top of the game and in order to do that you have to be in the Champions League.

“But it is not ultimately where we want to be with moving the club forward. We want to be a club that is competing at the very top end of the game and that means competing to win the Premier League and competing to win the Champions League. On that basis, we are not where we want to be yet.”

Gazidis is also certain that Arsenal have developed the infrastructure during this past decade that will genuinely allow them to reach those targets.

“I think itÔÇÖs not idle ambition when we talk about wanting to get there,ÔÇØ he said. “I think we have a very solid plan that will give us the ability to be able to compete at that level provided we do things well. The stadium move has meant we have tied in a lot of our commercial deals to it which has put us behind the game.

“The critical thing now as we look ahead over the next season and the season after is our developing financial capability which will give us a lot more options than in recent years.

“We think we have got a fantastic manager who has seen us through moving to a new stadium with consistency. We think we have got the right person to make the kinds of choices and decisions that we are going to have over this really significant period of the clubÔÇÖs development. We are feeling very optimistic.”

Gazidis is expecting more activity in this current transfer window once other clubs are more settled. “It has been quite a slow start and I think thatÔÇÖs because there was such a managerial musical chairs going on that everybody is waiting for that to settle down ÔÇô I think clubs are, agents are and players are,” he said.

Gazidis is also certain that WengerÔÇÖs own contractual situation will not be a point of concern to any potential new signings. “I think players that are concerned about uncertainty probably think about Arsenal as the most certain place they could be in the world of football,” he said.

“This is a club that has had remarkable consistency in terms of its manager, its football philosophy, its direction. The consistent support from the board and our principal owner for our manager is pretty much unmatched, through some difficult periods as well. So if its consistency players are looking for, I think Arsenal would be a very attractive place to come.”