Saturday 23 September 2017

Wenger set to stay and launch Arsenal clear-out

Arsene Wenger. Photo: Nick Potts/PA Wire
Arsene Wenger. Photo: Nick Potts/PA Wire

Jeremy Wilson

Arsene Wenger is preparing for a summer overhaul of his failing Arsenal squad in a defiant attempt to end his historic tenure at the club on a high.

Despite growing opposition among fans to him signing another contract, Wenger wants to stay and, although the club are continuing to stress that any final decision must be mutual, plans are being made with the Frenchman for major on-field changes this summer.

Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil have become increasingly likely to leave amid their ongoing contract stand-offs and while Wenger has publicly suggested that Arsenal would make them stay if they did not recommit, the club have been scouting potential replacements.

There is firm interest in Sanchez from Paris St-Germain and Juventus but a buyer for Ozil is less obvious and, despite joining up with the Germany squad after missing Saturday's 3-1 Premier League defeat away to West Bromwich Albion, he remains the more likely to accept an extension on around £200,000 (€230,000) a week.

Arsenal, though, are planning for the potential loss of their two stars and retain interest in three players Wenger previously wanted to buy.

Failed

He failed last summer with bids for Alexandre Lacazette at Lyon and Monaco's Kylian Mbappe and, while the value of both players has increased, so would Arsenal's spending power if Sanchez or Ozil were sold.

Sanchez would be valued in excess of £50 million (€58 million) and Arsenal would hope to recoup most of the £42 million (€48 million) they paid for midfielder Ozil.

Wenger has frequently compared the 18-year-old Mbappe to a young Thierry Henry while Lacazette, 25, has scored 29 goals this season.

The futures of goalkeeper David Ospina and full-backs Nacho Monreal and Kieran Gibbs are also in doubt.

Ospina has been frustrated by a lack of playing time while Wenger has long been planning to overhaul the left-back position and, having gambled on Cohen Bramall from non-League side Hednesford Town in January, has been looking to add another player in that position. Celtic's Kieran Tierney is among those being regularly watched.

Midfield is another area where change is likely, with no contract offers currently for Jack Wilshere or Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.

Arsenal are monitoring Ross Barkley's situation at Everton as he approaches the final year of his contract. His versatility in central midfield or in Ozil's No 10 role would be of interest.

Wenger's new contract has also not yet been signed off and the final decision will rest jointly with the 67-year-old and majority owner Stan Kroenke.

Wenger says he has made up his mind about but no announcement is imminent and the club remain sensitive to the mood among their supporters. (©The Daily Telegraph)

Telegraph.co.uk

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