Wenger's £50m transfer dilemma
Arsene Wenger is facing a £50m dilemma over how he uses his transfer budget between now and the end of the season to help reverse Arsenal's recent on-field decline.
Although the club's annual accounts show funds of £160.2m in the bank, it is believed the actual figure available to Wenger to spend on transfer fees or new player contracts is currently around £50m.
The key decision now facing Wenger, however, is to what extent he channels his available money into wages in an attempt to keep star players.
Robin van Persie, Thomas Vermaelen and Theo Walcott will all be out of contract in 2013, meaning their contracts must be renewed this season to avoid a potential repeat of the situation that occurred with Samir Nasri last summer.
At £124.4m, Arsenal's annual wage bill is already the fourth highest in the Premier League, but there is still pressure to divert further resources into significantly higher offers to star players.
Until the UEDA 'financial fair-play' rules are fully implemented, it is clear that Arsenal cannot compete with clubs who are being largely funded by a billionaire benefactor, but there is an argument that they would have a better chance of keeping their best players by widening the wage boundaries within the squad.
The rationale would be to make Arsenal more competitive in keeping players like Nasri or Van Persie, but also more flexible in offloading well-paid players who have become peripheral, such as Manuel Almunia, Nicklas Bendtner and Denilson.
Manchester United, for example, have a comparable annual wage bill of around £150m, but were able to make an exception and extend themselves to £160,000-a-week over five years for Wayne Rooney.
Van Persie is currently on around £80,000-a-week, but will be well aware that he could possibly join Nasri in doubling his money at Manchester City.
Arsenal are certain to offer Van Persie a pay rise and, even though he is 28, a four-year extension is expected to be put on the table.
They are also likely to try to make at least one major signing in January, with French-based midfielders Yoan Gourcuff, Yann M'Villa, Eden Hazard and Marvin Martin still being monitored, as well as Borussia Dortmund's Mario Gotze. (© Daily Telegraph, London)