LONDON – Arsenal chief executive Ivan Gazidis said Monday he expected manager Arsene Wenger to sign a new contract when the Frenchman’s current deal expires at the end of this season.
The 64-year-old Wenger is currently the Premier League’s longest-serving manager, having joined north London side Arsenal in September 1996.
The Gunners are currently riding high at the top of the table and Wenger has repeatedly played down concerns over his future when asked about a new contract, although he gave a hint last month that he had made a decision.
Gazidis insisted there was no rush as far as the club’s hierarchy was concerned while speaking at the announcement of a new kit deal with Puma worth more than a reported £30 million ($49.5 million), which will commence in July.
“We have always been completely behind him,” said Gazidis. “We are comfortable in the position and relaxed about it.
“Arsene will be extending with us,” Gazidis added. “This football club is the football club of his life.
“We are very convinced, and at the right time we will quietly make an announcement that he is the right person to see us forward.”
Arsenal’s agreement with Puma, which will see the German sports manufacturer take over from Nike as Arsenal’s, was described in a joint statement as “the biggest deal” for both club and company.
The Gunners are understood to receive around £30 million a year from main sponsors Emirates Airlines, and while no financial details were given, reports have indicated the new deal will be for a similar amount when Puma replaces U.S.-based rival Nike, which has been the London club’s kit provider since 1994.
Arsenal smashed its transfer record with the signing of Germany playmaker Mesut Ozil for £42 million from Real Madrid in the last window.
And there have been reports it is keen to land Ozil’s fellow Germany international Julian Draxler from Schalke before the Jan. 31 deadline.
Gazidis said funds to sign new players were available, although Wenger would not have access to any of Puma’s cash until after the end of the season.
“The new partnership represents the biggest commercial deal in Puma’s and Arsenal’s history,” explained Gazidis.
“The money from this deal will be available to the club from this summer. It represents an important step in our progression on and off the pitch.
“One of our long-term goals has been to increase commercial revenues and there is a football reason for that — from the summer onward the money will be available for the manager to spend how he sees fit.”
Arsenal has not won a major trophy since 2005, but Gazidis said: “We have a vision to be competing at the top of the world’s game, but we don’t get there overnight.
“We are doing it our way, without relying on any single individual, on an independent path.
“When we achieve success it will mean so much to everyone that has been in this journey, so let’s get there as soon as possible.”