Arsenal chief executive Ivan Gazidis has confirmed he wants Arsene Wenger to extend his contract beyond the end of next season.
Wenger’s current deal expires next year and he has been in demand from other top clubs, not least in his native France, where Paris St Germain and his former club Monaco are rich from overseas investment.
There were rumblings of dissent among supporters at the Emirates last season leading to speculation that the 63-year-old Frenchman might seek a fresh challenge after what will be nearly 18 years at the club, but Arsenal’s chief executive expects him to stay.
We think we have got a fantastic manager,’ said Gazidis. ‘We hope 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 a great relationship and he has a great relationship with the board. So, quietly and at the right time I think we will make an announcement on that when things are all put in place.
‘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. This is going to happen very quietly behind closed doors, privately and then there will be an announcement.’
Wenger joined the Gunners in October 1996, winning the title in his first full season and qualifying for the Champions League in every year since but he has not won a trophy wince Arsenal won the FA Cup in 2005.
‘This is a club that has had remarkable consistency in terms of its manager, football philosophy and support from the board and our principal owner for the manager,’ said Gazidis.
‘It is pretty much unmatched, through some difficult periods as well. So if it is consistency players are looking for, Arsenal would be a very attractive place to come.’
The Gunners finished last season in fourth, 17 points behind champions Manchester United. They were embarrassed by Bradford and Blackburn in the domestic cup competitions and beaten on away goals in the Champions League by eventual Bayern Munich.
There has been dissent among some sections of the fans, who believe it is time for change at the club.
‘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,’ said Gazidis. ‘So we are pleased to qualified, or at least, for the qualification games. 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.
‘It is not idle ambition when we talk about wanting to get there. 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 board insist the club will become more financially competitive having secured lucrative sponsorship deals for their shirts and the stadium and a new deal for Puma to take over from Nike as kit suppliers next year.
‘The stadium move has meant we have tied in a lot of our commercial deals to it which has put us behind the game,’ Gazidis added. ‘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.
‘The club is on a good path. We have been through a difficult and in some ways disappointing season which ended satisfactorily. But we are not crowing about that. We are looking ahead and to how we can push forward.