Relief all round as Wenger commits

Arsenal fans can rest assured the future of their club is in very safe hands with Arsene Wenger set to remain in charge at Emirates Stadium.

Arsenal fans can rest assured the future of their club is in very safe hands with Arsene Wenger set to remain in charge at Emirates Stadium.

Although an official announcement is not expected until Friday morning, it is understood Wenger, 57, has now formally agreed a new deal with the Gunners.

The terms of the contract extension are said to be over three more years, worth around £4m a season to the highly-respected French coach.

The announcement will bring to an end the speculation linking Wenger with a move away from the club at which he has made such an impact over the past decade - securing three Premier League titles and four FA Cup triumphs as well as leading the north Londoners to the Champions League final in 2006.

With Wenger out of contract at the end of the season, there had been added uncertainty following the controversial departure of former vice-chairman David Dein in April and the summer sale of Thierry Henry to Barcelona.

That, though, has now proven unfounded as the Arsenal boss will continue his plans to build a new all-conquering squad.

Indeed, despite all of the uncertainty and predictions of another unimpressive campaign ahead, Arsenal have opened the new season in some style.

The Gunners beat Sparta Prague comfortably to qualify for the lucrative group stages of the Champions League and are currently second in the Barclays Premier League table, unbeaten in four matches.

Wenger believes the squad has grown in stature following the difficulties of the last few months.

He said: “Since the beginning of the season something has been happening in this team. They fight for each other, they have a great togetherness and love for the game.”

The Frenchman has also been keen to stress that continued speculation of a boardroom takeover would not distract him from the job of ensuring Arsenal challenge for the top honours again.

It remains to be seen just what will develop regarding the supposed interest of American billionaire Stan Kroenke, and whether Dein, a close personal friend of Wenger, returns to the club having recently linked up with billionaire Alisher Usmanov – to whom he also sold his shares – at the head of ’Red and White Holdings’.

Wenger said last month: “It is true that is a gamble I take, but when I take a gamble at some stage, it is with people who are in charge.

“They tell me certain things, and I believe or believe not, then I say ’listen, I want to sign only one year’.

“It is down to me if I want a longer contract or not and there is a takeover, because I know from the moment I sign that it can happen.”

Wenger, meanwhile, has long championed the less trodden route to success - through developing a side rather than simply going out and buying the best talent around.

The likes of Nicolas Anelka and more recently Cesc Fabregas have come from the youth ranks of other clubs and been turned into world-beaters, while Gael Clichy and Philippe Senderos are now first-team regulars following their climb through the Arsenal system.

Promising 16-year-old striker Gilles Sunu opted to join the Gunners academy this summer rather than head to Manchester United or Chelsea.

Wenger, however, knows the battle for potential stars of the future is just as intense as the top end of the transfer market.

“It’s a harder trick to pull off buying younger players,” he said Wenger. “But I am not too much worried about the competition because [the players] will always go where they think they get the chance.

“Not many clubs have the patience to give them a go. They will make them wait until they think they are good enough.

“Here, a player knows if he is good he will play and because we start them early here, they mature earlier.

“Players are integrated into our training sessions early so they know exactly what they have to do.”

One such young man now integral to the Gunners’ future is Fabregas.

The 20-year-old Spain midfielder has been in brilliant early form, already netting four goals – which was all he managed in total last season.

Fabregas had been linked with a move to Real Madrid over the summer, but is fully committed to the Arsenal cause.

“We shall see what happens in the future, but now I am going 100% with the decision which I have taken,” said the former Barcelona youth player.

“I decided to remain (at Arsenal), for my own reasons. In the future I do not know what is going to happen, but I am very happy with the decision I took.”

More in this section

Sport
Newsletter

Latest news from the world of sport, along with the best in opinion from our outstanding team of sports writers

Sign up
IE_logo_newsletters

Select your favourite newsletters and get the best of Irish Examiner delivered to your inbox