Football: Two-year extension for relieved Wenger

Arsene Wenger was widely pilloried over Arsenal's travails in the league, but the FA Cup win against Chelsea has brought him a two-year contract extension.
Arsene Wenger was widely pilloried over Arsenal's travails in the league, but the FA Cup win against Chelsea has brought him a two-year contract extension.PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

The Gunners are poised to make an official announcement on new contract later today

LONDON • Arsene Wenger has told Arsenal owner Stan Kroenke that he will accept the English Premier League football club's offer of a new two-year contract, according to reports yesterday.

Wenger met Arsenal's majority shareholder Kroenke and chief executive Ivan Gazidis on Monday to discuss his future before his contract expires next month.

The 67-year-old has been heavily criticised this season, with Arsenal fans calling for his resignation after their team failed to qualify for the Champions League for the first time in 20 years.

Suggestions that Arsenal may insist on hiring a director of football to work with Wenger had sparked claims he was considering ending his 21-year reign.

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But, after leading Arsenal to an impressive 2-1 FA Cup final victory over Premier League champions Chelsea with Kroenke watching from the stands on Saturday, Wenger had hinted that he was willing to stay.

And the Daily Mail and Daily Mirror reported that Wenger has informed American tycoon Kroenke, who remains a firm supporter of his manager, that he wants to remain in charge of the Gunners.

A formal announcement of Wenger's new contract is expected to come today.

"The club are planning to make an announcement on Wednesday afternoon," a spokesman said, after refusing to confirm the reports of Wenger's decision.

Wenger, who has won three Premier League titles and a record seven FA Cups with Arsenal, was expected to attend a club board meeting yesterday when the contract would be rubber-stamped.

The Frenchman was also likely to outline his plans for close-season signings and changes in his backroom.

Gazidis would still like to bring in a sporting director to coordinate issues ranging from scouting and medicine to youth development and analytics.

But Wenger has been told he will retain control of the key areas of team selection and transfers.

With his reign set to reach 23 years if he sees out the new deal, Wenger has a chance to salvage what was in danger of becoming a tarnished reputation.

First on his to-do list will be making improved contract offers to Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil.

The unsettled Arsenal stars are holding out for weekly wages of around £300,000 (S$534,000) a week with their present deals due to expire at the end of next season.

But, with no Champions League football to offer to potential new recruits, Wenger still faces a tough task to win the Premier League for the first time since 2004.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 31, 2017, with the headline 'Two-year deal for relieved Wenger'. Print Edition | Subscribe