New deal for Wenger
LONDON. – Arsenal will reopen contract talks with boss Arsene Wenger. And Wenger has £40million to spend in the January transfer window that could go on a top-class striker. Having smashed the club’s transfer record to sign Mesut Ozil for £42.4m last week, Arsenal’s priority is to now secure the future of Wenger.
The Frenchman’s deal expires at the end of this season and talks over a new contract were shelved while the Ozil signing was secured.
Arsenal fan groups had released statements calling for 63-year-old Wenger’s contract to be put on the back burner after the opening-day defeat against Aston Villa.
But owner Stan Kroenke and chief executive Ivan Gazidis have taken the Ozil signing as further proof that Wenger deserves a new deal.
Ozil made it clear that Wenger, and the phone call between the pair, was the principle reason that he opted to leave Real Madrid for Arsenal.
Jack Wilshere has also recently claimed that he could reassess his Arsenal future if Wenger left.
Arsenal chiefs have taken Wenger’s determination to personally push through the Ozil transfer as encouragement that the Frenchman is not thinking of leaving and are hopeful of clinching an agreement.
Having only spent half his transfer budget for this season, Wenger still has £40m at his disposal that he can spend in January if he so wishes.
Wenger failed with bids for Luis Suarez and Wayne Rooney this summer, and saw Chelsea pull the plug on his bid to take Demba Ba on loan.
Arsenal will keep an eye on several strikers until January in readiness to make a move.
Meanwhile, an intense scouting drive by Arsenal has pinpointed three of the Bundesliga’s top stars as Wenger attempts to add to the club’s growing German contingent.
Wenger has requested detailed dossiers on Borussia Dortmund pair Marco Reus and Ilkay Gundogan and Bayer Leverkusen midfielder Lars Bender.
The Arsenal manager is also keeping tabs on Dortmund’s Poland right back Lukasz Piszczek, as the Gunners seek a replacement for Bacary Sagna, who could leave on a free transfer at the end of the season.
With Wenger under intense pressure to improve his squad, after eight years without Arsenal winning a trophy, all the club’s scouts were asked to recommend two names for every position at the start of the summer in preparation for the opening of the transfer window.
The German trio featured heavily in the list of prospective targets and Wenger has asked to be kept regularly updated on the progress of Gundogan, Reus and Bender. Hard-working midfielder Bender appears to be held in the highest regard by Wenger.
Indeed, the Gunners saw an £18.5million bid for the Germany player rejected by Leverkusen in the summer.
Dortmund manager Jurgen Klopp has made it clear he has no intention of allowing pacy forward Reus or midfielder Gundogan leave, but the pair remain firmly on Wenger’s radar.
When Ozil dramatically signed for £42.5million from Real Madrid on transfer-deadline day he joined an already healthy number of Germany’s top stars in Arsenal’s first-team squad.
Per Mertesacker, Lukas Podolski and Serge Gnabry have arrived from Werder Bremen, Cologne and Stuttgart respectively in recent seasons.
Even 16-year-old hot prospect Gedion Zelalem is also a German national.
And attacking midfielder Thomas Eisfeld, 20, who is expected to feature in Arsenal’s Capital One Cup campaign this season, was also signed from Borussia Dortmund.
This influx of German talent at the Emirates is a deliberate ploy by Wenger and his trusted chief scout Steve Rowley. As revealed by Sportsmail on Tuesday, the first scouting reports conducted by Arsenal on Ozil date back to 2007, when the talented playmaker first broke into Schalke’s first team.
Since then, Rowley, at Wenger’s request, has extensively expanded Arsenal’s scouting network in Germany as the club look to exploit the country’s burgeoning talent pool.
And the strategy to enhance their scouting presence seems to be paying off.
In addition to Reus, Gundogan and Bender, Arsenal showed a solid interest in Schalke’s wonderkid Julian Draxler over the summer, but the club were not prepared to meet the 19-year-old’s £40million release clause.
In the previous transfer window, in January, Wenger had also tried to sign Bayern Munich pair Manuel Neuer and Mario Gotze — then still playing at Dortmund — among others.
Rowley, who has ensured that even German academy games are attended by Gunners scouts, spent long periods of last season based in the country as he looked to gain as much knowledge as possible on the nation’s best up-and-coming players.
And Wenger’s trusted confidant is expected to spend more time in Germany again this season ahead of further spending splurges in January and next summer. In the past Arsenal have, with varying degrees of success, initiated similar scouting strategies in France and Spain during Wenger’s lengthy reign at the club. – The Mirror.