Arsenal’s chief executive seems to have finally put the speculation surrounding Arsene Wenger’s future to bed with the suggestion the club will back the Frenchman for the long term.
Wenger has always said he would honour his Arsenal contract and this is the biggest hint yet that Arsenal will extend it beyond its current expiration date of next summer.
However, there seem to be subtle stipulations in Gazidis’ comments which could eventually make a new contract for the Frenchman pointless.
Gazidis has suggested the club expects to be competing for the Premier League and Champions League trophies, making winning those competitions a stipulation in a new deal for Wenger.
“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,” said Gazidis.
It leads to the question of what happens if nothing changes and nothing improves at Arsenal for the next two or three seasons.
Arsenal have created massive pressure not just on Wenger but on themselves, to make a dramatic push forward next year after revealing their financial strength last season.
Arsenal fans now know that the debts for the Emirates Stadium are no longer holding back the club’s financial muscle and there is well over £100 million in the bank in the form of a cash reserve.
That leads to the presumption that Wenger is going to go out and make some big changes to his squad this summer with the likes of Gonzalo Higuain and Stevan Jovetic already being linked with the Gunners.
Gazidis’ comments also suggest that Arsenal are not thinking of switching Wenger to the sort of contract Sir Alex Ferguson enjoyed over the final part of his Manchester United career.
“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 - We have got a lot of confidence in Arsene that he is the right person to take the club forward,” he added.
That deal saw Fergie getting a larger salary but it was a one-year rolling deal which gave him and the club the option of ending the relationship at short notice and without any complications.
So Wenger could sign another three or four year deal when this one expires but if there is literally no change for Arsenal in their context as a current English and European club, that deal could start to look pointless.
Arsenal expect to be more than a club that simply finishes fourth each season and makes the early knock out rounds in the Champions League. Wenger is about to face the biggest challenge of his managerial career.
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image: © Matt and Kim Rudge