Arsenal set to seal deal worth €29m with Wenger
Long-serving manager confirms intention to add ‘two or three players’ this summer
A delighted Arsene Wenger after his Arsenal side ended a nine-year trophy drought against Hull with an extra-time victory in the FA Cup. Photograph: Shaun Botterill/Getty Images
Arsenal expect Arsene Wenger to sign a three-year deal worth £24m this week to finally end the saga that has tracked their season. Even by the club’s recent standards, the manager’s contractual stand-off has been protracted and at no point has Wenger explained why he has allowed the situation to run beyond the final match.
His current deal is due to expire next month but the club are now preparing to make the announcement that Wenger has committed for another cycle which stands to take him beyond 20 years at Arsenal. He joined as ‘Arsene Who?’ from Nagoya Grampus Eight in September 1996.
Watched by the majority shareholder, Stan Kroenke, Wenger led the team to a 3-2 extra-time victory over Hull City in Saturday’s FA Cup final at Wembley to secure the club’s first trophy in nine years. Coupled with the fourth-placed Premier League finish that has brought them the chance of a 17th consecutive Champions League campaign - they next contest a two-leg qualifying-round match in early summer - Wenger believes that he has had a positive and progressive campaign and there are grounds for optimism.
He spoke after the Cup final triumph of the need to add “two or three players” in the summer transfer window and he hopes to complete the signing of the Queens Park Rangers striker Loic Remy, whose contract has an GBP8m buy-out clause. But he will most likely have to replace the defender Bacary Sagna and the reserve goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski. There are also doubts over the striker Lukas Podolski’s future at the club.
Sagna, who becomes a free agent next month and has been unable to agree to fresh terms at the Emirates Stadium, is considering the offer of a three-year deal from Manchester City which would significantly increase his current wage of GBP50,000-a-week. Several other clubs have monitored the 31-year-old’s situation. Wenger is so keen to retain Sagna that he has broken from Arsenal’s general policy of one-year contract extensions for players who are over 30 to offer him three years.
Sagna beat his chest and waved to Arsenal supporters at Wembley and he had tears in his eyes as he left the stadium. “I don’t know whether it was my last match for Arsenal,” he said. “As everybody knows, I am at the end of my contract and we haven’t found an agreement [with the club]. I am happy to lift a trophy. On a personal level, this final was a revenge after losing the 2011 Carling Cup to Birmingham City. There was a lot of emotion.”
Fabianski is also at the end of his contract and he practically confirmed that the final, in which he started ahead of Wenger’s regular No1, Wojciech Szczesny, would be his last appearance for Arsenal. He has been linked with a Bosman move to the Bundesliga.
“Probably that was my final game for Arsenal football club and I am really proud of that final game,” Fabianski said. “I’m really proud that probably my career [at the club]ends up with a trophy. We will see. In the next few weeks, I will know more.
“It’s difficult [to leave], for sure. But I think my decision is made purely on playing regularly each week. That’s the main case for me. This club has been fantastic with me. I really love this club. It’s just purely a sporting decision.”
Podolski has not always been a first-choice selection for Wenger, much to his frustration, and he was asked whether he would remain at the club next season. “I’m here today,” Podolski replied. “I’m happy at this club. I played [in the final]so all things are good.”
Wenger said that he would first need to see what Sagna and Fabianski do. “Afterwards we have to bring in two or three players to strengthen the squad, that’s for sure,” he continued. “Unfortunately, everywhere we go, there are many teams on the market at the moment.”
Wenger reported that Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, together with Jack Wilshere, will travel to Portugal with the England squad today for the World Cup training camp. Oxlade-Chamberlain has had a groin injury and was not a part of Arsenal’s Cup final squad.
“Alex was desperate to play,” Wenger said. “Pain-wise he could have played but I judged him to be short, physically. We wanted to play players who were completely fit. Certainly he could have played 20-30 minutes, but you can’t programme it like that. We left him out. But he’s on the way up and he needs more fitness work now. He and Jack go to Portugal.”
Wilshere, an extra-time substitute who has only recently returned from a fractured foot, said: “I have been training for three weeks. I feel fresh and a good week of training in Portugal will do me good. Chambo is all right. He was a bit upset not be involved [in the final]but he’s only trained for two days. Again, a week of training in Portugal will do him well.”