Wenger's Arsenal revolution: How boss will rebuild Gunners
Published 22:30 15/04/10 By John Cross
Arsene Wenger is preparing for a rebuilding programme after Arsenal crashed out of the title race.
Arsenal will also try to persuade 60-year-old Wenger to commit himself to a new long-term contract this summer as the club looks to build for the future.
Wenger will be afforded a £30m-plus budget for transfers and new contracts on the back of encouraging financial figures from the club’s Highbury property development which will be discussed at next week’s board meeting.
But the current Arsenal hierarchy - including chief executive Ivan Gazidis and majority shareholder Stan Kroenke - want Wenger to stay, although there may be pressure to buy new players to keep fans happy.
On top of Wenger’s agenda will be:
SIGNING new faces, with Bordeaux striker Marouane Chamakh already on his way. Hamburg defender Jerome Boateng is another target.
AGREEING a new contract with French centre half William Gallas, having failed to reach an agreement with the 32-year-old.
DISCUSSIONS on his own future with the club wanting to tie the Frenchman down to a new three-year deal.
THE club’s future as US tycoon Stan Kroenke, who has a 29 per cent stake, is just ten shares away from a full takeover and has the current board’s backing.
KEEPING captain Cesc Fabregas, a target for Barcelona.
ENSURING the club’s medical care is in good hands after Russian midfielder Andrey Arshavin yesterday questioned the set-up.
But generally, the Arsenal hierarchy believe the club is on the right road after a season in which they have made major progress on last year despite going a fifth year without a trophy.
Wenger believes his team is just two or three additions away from being able to sustain a title challenge until the end of the season.
They have upset the odds this time as many pundits had written off Arsenal’s title chances and believed they would struggle to maintain their Champions League place.
But Wenger’s first addition will be Moroccan striker Chamakh, 26, who has already agreed a pre-contract on a five-year deal worth £50,000-a-week as his deal at Bordeaux expires this summer.
There will be a shake up in defence. Arsenal want to keep Gallas but are reluctant to break their policy of only offering 30-somethings one-year extensions.
Arsenal are confident Gallas will sign after offering him a one year deal with a one year extension which will be automatically triggered if he plays a set number of games next season.
But Mikael Silvestre, 32, will leave having been frustrated at a lack of first team opportunities. Veteran Sol Campbell, 35, who proved he can still play at the highest level in the north London derby at Tottenham, may be offered a one-year contract, especially if Gallas leaves.
They will then look for a new centre half as Hamburg’s centre half Boateng - also a £12m target for Manchester City - is on their radar as they want a young defender to compliment Thomas Vermaelen and Gallas.
Wenger himself believes the club is going in the right direction and, with the right backing and assurances about being in complete control, will carry on.
That was backed up yesterday when Arsenal chairman Peter Hill-Wood said: “We want him to stay for as long as he wants to stay, and we hope that will be for some considerable time yet.”
But the board are aware that some shareholders and fans are getting restless at Wenger’s lack of trophies and also reluctance to spend big in the transfer market.
With the current ownership still up in the air, they know they must keep shareholders onside and Wenger will be offered cash to strengthen and also keep players happy with new deals.
The issue of lucrative and ambitious foreign pre-season tours has been raised and discussed with Kroenke believed to want a US trip to help crack that market.
But Wenger has always been reluctant to steer away from a low-key training camp in Austria which he believes is the best possible preparation.
The club’s future direction will be discussed at the board meeting next week but it is clear that Kroenke is the preferred option and Uzbeki tycoon Alisher Usmanov is no longer looking for a takeover and is happy with his 26 per cent stake.
But central to Arsenal’s long term stability and strength is keeping their star players and Wenger is desperate for Fabregas to stay and for him to resist any summer overtures with Barcelona desperate to sign him. Manchester City would also be keen but have little chance of getting him.
Wenger has already held talks with Fabregas and has pleaded with him to stay and give him another two years, although Hill-Wood’s latest remarks have not helped.
Russian forward Arshavin, out with a calf problem, has also upset the applecart with a thinly veiled attack on the medical staff after so many injuries this season.
But the concern is that there have been so many strains and pulls with Vermaelen now out for up to three weeks with a calf strain which may mean the end of the campaign.
Arshavin, 28, said: “Let’s say for me it was always easier to be treated by Zenit St Petersburg doctors. I cannot claim I really know the reasons behind so many injuries at Arsenal.”