The long-serving manager is in talks with the club about signing a two-year extension to his current £7.5 million-a-year deal, which expires at the season's endBy Wayne Veysey
Arsene Wenger is close to agreeing a two-year contract extension with Arsenal.
The Frenchman has been in talks with the club about a renewal for months and a deal could be signed imminently.
Wenger, whose current £7.5 million-a-year agreement expires next summer, is expected to pen an extension that runs until 2016.
The new contract would extend the reign of Arsenal’s longest-serving manager to a remarkable 20 years if it is honoured, by which time he will be 66.
The Gunners hierarchy and Wenger have nearly reached agreement on the terms of the deal, which will be supplemented by bonuses but is not expected to include a basic salary increase.
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Wenger wants to stay for personal as well as professional reasons. His family are settled in London, with his teenage daughter hoping to compete her secondary education in the capital, while he has complete autonomy over signings and the technical direction of the club.
As revealed by Goal in April, when Arsenal’s top-four hopes were on a knife-edge, Wenger still retained the complete faith of American owner Stan Kroenke and the rest of the board.
Preliminary talks on a new contract were held over the summer and sources are confident that a deal is now close to being struck.
Wenger gave a clear indication at the end of September that he wants to sign a new deal which will take him into his third decade at the club, after Kroenke gave his full endorsement to the Frenchman remaining in charge for “the long term”.
The manager, who turns 64 later in October, said: “The good thing with me, if I have one quality, you don’t need a lot of talks to extend the contract I have. [I will sign] when we find time. I don’t think that’s the most important problem at the moment.
“I would love to be here forever because that would mean I would be immortal. What I would like to do as long as I’m here is to give my best for this club because I love the club, of course.
“I am very honoured to have the support of Stan Kroenke. That he thinks I can help the club is a huge confidence vote. I don’t believe that anybody can question my commitment to this club. I want to feel that I do well and then the question of me staying will be secondary after that."
Asked if that meant the talks would be straightforward, Wenger said: “That’s straightforward and I don’t think there’s anything more to add to that.”
Kroenke had earlier given a ringing endorsement of Wenger on the eve of the Frenchman’s 17th anniversary at Arsenal.
“There is no one I feel more strongly about and I think he is doing a great job,” explained the Denver-based owner. “We have been very supportive, we have never wavered, we are proud of him, proud of the club, the way the club is run and how it holds itself out to the world.”
Kroenke explained that the club’s most successful manager is central to his “long-term” Arsenal vision. “Arsene knows exactly how we feel, what our philosophy is, what we want to do and I feel like we are totally aligned. I think he wants to do it exactly the same way as we do,” he added.
Although Arsenal have not won a trophy since 2005, the board place far greater importance on his record of top-four finishes and success in navigating the group stages of the Champions League year after year.
The Gunners hierarchy are keen for Wenger to stay and develop a team around a British core of Jack Wilshere, Theo Walcott, Aaron Ramsey and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, supplemented by proven foreign stars in the mould of £40m record signing Mesut Ozil and the 2012 principal signings Santi Cazorla, Olivier Giroud and Lukas Podolski.
The north Londoners' high command are also convinced that new commercial deals, including the £150m Emirates contract that was front-loaded to come into effect this summer, leave Arsenal even better positioned in the medium and long term than they are now.
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