LONDON: Arsene Wenger has agreed a new three-year deal to remain as Arsenal manager until 2017.
Wenger, 64, has led Arsenal to seven major trophies since joining them in September 1996, most recently the FA Cup Final victory over Hull City which ended a nine-year trophy drought.
Under Wenger the Gunners have qualified for 17 successive seasons for the Champions League.
Wenger indicated after the Cup Final that he was close to signing to stay. Asked within minutes of the final whistle, he responded to a question about whether he was ready to sign, by saying: “Normally it should happen, yes . . . and we are in very normal circumstances.”
Wenger may look back and reflect how the final against Hull – and perhaps his managership – was saved by a goal-line clearance from Kieran Gibb in the 12th minute. Without that intervention Arsenal would have been 3-0 down and perhaps beyond redemption. They hit back to win 3-2.
The Frenchman has come in for heavy criticism in recent seasons over his transfer strategy and team selections, both being considered symptoms of the lack of silverware ever since Arsenal left Highbury in 2006.
The record £40m signing of Mesut Ozil was welcomed last august as a sign that Wenger and Arsenal were losing their spending inhibitions.
This strategy switch needs to be maintained.
Rightback Bacary Sagna will leave on a free transfer to Manchester City so Arsenal need defensive reinforcements plus a quality centre-forward to replace Giroud. His 16 goals placed him eighth in the Premier scoring charts. Both Manchester City and Liverpool had two players who scored more goals.
Wenger said: “In England the Premier League is very tough. Look at the top four without Manchester United or Everton or Tottenham – who have invested a huge amount of money – while the club who won have invested an incredible amount of money. It’s difficult to beat them but we will try.”