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Wenger set to be offered new Arsenal contract

ESPN staff
September 13, 2012 « Moutinho: Villas-Boas is one of Europe's best | Chartbeat test »

Arsenal chief executive Ivan Gazidis has suggested the club are ready to offer Arsene Wenger a contract extension as he lauded the achievements of the 62-year-old manager.

Wenger joined the Gunners from J.League outfit Nagoya Grampus in 1996, and with his current deal due to expire at the end of next season, Gazidis says the Frenchman remains part of the club's long-term plans.

Gazidis insists the Gunners' faith in Wenger comes from a belief that he is the right manager to lead the club into the future, despite not winning a trophy in seven years.

"It's not a sense of sentimentalism, not a reward for services, it's a belief that we have an incredible manager who loves this club and is the best man to lead us forward," Gazidis told the Telegraph.

"We're really confident about the direction that the club is heading. I feel he can keep going for a long time. He's in fantastic shape and he's as driven as he's ever been and excited as ever.

"He played in some staff games recently. When you put him out on the football field, he is still fit, quick and a good footballer. It's fantastic to see his endless enthusiasm. I really have learnt from Arsene and the players learn from him as well.

"The values that Arsene has brought to the club together with the values that the club had before Arsene are what will inform us and give us the framework as to who might take over from him in the longer term. He is written into our DNA.

"As a club, we have to make sure that all of the things that Arsene has brought to the club are enshrined in our DNA to make sure that, when Arsene decides it's time, we are in a position to take his ideas and work forward.

"The values that Arsene has brought to the club together with the values that the club had before Arsene are what will inform us and give us the framework as to who might take over from him in the longer term. He is written into our DNA."

Arsenal have come in for some criticism after losing a host of key players in recent years, including Cesc Fabregas, Samir Nasri and Robin van Persie. But Gazidis praised Wenger's approach to these challenges, hailing the manager for his ability to put the long-term viability of the club above all other concerns.

"We're not dominated by fear," Gazidis said. "Arsene never succumbs. We try to do more than win, we try to win with style. I know we haven't won trophies in recent years. There's no one here that doesn't feel the pain of not being able to do that.

"We're very optimistic about this season. We're absolutely trying to win silverware and we're trying desperately hard to do it this year.

"We can get into extensive debate about individual decisions - and like all clubs we are not perfect - but the ultimate arbiter of whether you are spending your money efficiently is where did you finish in the Premier League versus your overall spending.

"When you look at what Arsene has done, within the overall constraints, he has outperformed our spending every single year he has been manager. It is extraordinary."

Meanwhile, Arsenal are also preparing for new financial deals in 2014, which Gazidis believes will see the club take its place alongside Real Madrid, Barcelona, Manchester United and Bayern Munich.

"In terms of the financial impact, it will be as significant a step forward as the (Emirates) stadium was in 2005," Gazidis said. "It does kick us into the top five clubs in the world with separation from the rest. The overall journey that the club embarked on was to make it one of the leading clubs in the world and to do it in a way that would be sustainable.

"We get accused of a lack of ambition or complacency because apparently the board are only interested in the top four. That is absolute rubbish. To me this is the most ambitious football club I know."

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