Sunday 20 August 2017

D Day for Arsene Wenger at Arsenal while Ozil and Sanchez to get record contract offers

Wenger has told the board that he thinks he can win the Premier League if this group stay together and are supplemented by no more than two or three key additions. Photo credit: Nick Potts/PA Wire.
Wenger has told the board that he thinks he can win the Premier League if this group stay together and are supplemented by no more than two or three key additions. Photo credit: Nick Potts/PA Wire.

Jeremy Wilson

Arsenal are preparing fresh contract offers to make Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil the highest paid players in their history, following Saturday's FA Cup final victory against Chelsea.

Although today's board meeting will be shaped by agreeing the future of manager Arsene Wenger and the club's wider structure, the other big issue is how to approach negotiations with a large group of players who are entering either the last 12 months or two years of their contracts.

Wenger has told the board that he thinks he can win the Premier League if this group stay together and are supplemented by no more than two or three key additions. Ozil is understood to have been offered more than £250,000 a week already, and the club are ready to go to around £280,000 for both him and Sanchez.

There has been some frustration that the Ozil deal was not completed last year. Both Ozil and Sanchez then appeared particularly badly affected by the Champions League exit against Bayern Munich, and have only latterly rediscovered their best form.

Ozil's agent, Dr Erkut Sogut, complained in February that the player had been a scapegoat for Arsenal's failings this season. There has been more outside interest in Sanchez, who ended the season with 30 goals, and his situation is being monitored by Manchester City, Bayern Munich, Paris Saint-Germain, Juventus and Chelsea.

Sanchez likes living in London, and Arsenal hope that he might be willing to commit to an extension of two years until 2020.

That would give the 28-year-old the option of moving at a stage in his career when he is still likely to interest the elite of Europe.

Despite Wenger's claim that Arsenal do not have to sell this summer, they are unlikely to turn down a big offer - even from one of their Premier League rivals - if either player did not extend his contract and so could leave for nothing next year.

The clear expectation today is that Wenger will agree a two-year contract and press forward with his summer transfer plans, but there will be potentially tense discussions over the sporting structure at the club.

Scouting

Chief executive Ivan Gazidis has been looking at candidates for a new sporting director/operations role to coordinate and streamline the work around Wenger on issues ranging from scouting and medicine to youth development and analytics.

Wenger has been told that his core powers - coaching, selecting the team and directing transfer strategy - will not be affected, but is sensitive and may feel emboldened in his approach to talks following his seventh FA Cup.

Another red line for Wenger relates to his coaching staff, and he does not want anyone leaving against their will. Majority owner Stan Kroenke is certain that he wants Wenger to continue as manager and, while the euphoria of Saturday should make reaching an agreement easier, other board members believe that the club must not gloss over the spectacular dip during February and March, and should still drive forward with changes this summer in how they work.

The new TV deal will help Arsenal fund improved contract extensions this summer, as would the potential departures of David Ospina, Kieran Gibbs, Joel Campbell, Mathieu Debuchy, Carl Jenkinson and Jack Wilshere.

They have already signed Schalke's Sead Kolasinac and, should Ozil or Sanchez leave, they will want more creative players. Arsenal have had long-term interest in France striker Alexandre Lacazette - whose desire for Champions League football could be an obstacle - as well as Leicester City's Riyad Mahrez.

Borussia Dortmund's Marco Reus is another player who has been regularly monitored - but he has suffered a knee ligament injury, while Monaco's Kylian Mbappe, whom Wenger attempted to sign last summer, has become the most sought-after young striker in world football. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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