Wenger deal hint is timely lift to Arsenal pulling power

Frank Dalleres
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ARSENAL have offered reassurance to any wavering transfer targets after chief executive Ivan Gazidis indicated manager Arsene Wenger is likely to extend his tenure beyond next season.

The Gunners have been expected to end years of bargain hunting by making £70m available for summer reinforcements, but have yet to announce any signings despite the season ending almost three weeks ago.

Wenger’s position came under unprecedented scrutiny last term following a turbulent start to the campaign, raising questions about whether the Frenchman would see out a contract that now has just 12 months to run.

The 63-year-old is the longest serving manager in the Premier League, the second in all Europe, and has been courted by super-rich Paris Saint-Germain.

But Gazidis declared yesterday that the north London club would like to tie Wenger to a new deal, potentially taking his reign into a third decade, and implied he expected the will to be reciprocated.

“We think we have got a fantastic manager. We hope that he wants to do what he is doing for the long term. I believe he does,” said Gazidis. “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 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 when things are all put in place.”

Manchester United’s Wayne Rooney, Gonzalo Higuain of Real Madrid and Fiorentina’s Stevan Jovetic are among the players carrying £20m-plus price tags who are thought to interest Wenger, who took charge in 1996.

None has arrived, however, though Gazidis does not believe Wenger’s contract situation would be a deterrent, emphasising instead that the long association between manager and club ought to be an attraction.

“This is a club that has had remarkable consistency in terms of its manager, its football philosophy, its direction,” he added.

“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.”