By Wayne Veysey | Chief Correspondent
Arsene Wenger wants to bring David Dein back to Arsenal as he prepares to open preliminary contract talks with the club, Goal.com can reveal.
Arsenal still retain complete faith in Wenger and are willing to offer him an extension to his current deal that could extend his reign to the 20-year mark.
The Frenchman has indicated that he is keen to stay at Emirates Stadium but has told the club of his desire to be re-united with close friend and former ally Dein so they can work together on signing new players this summer.
The former Arsenal vice-chairman was ousted from the board in April 2007 for acting unilaterally in trying to attract new investment to the club but he retains a deep affinity for the club, watches home matches from his own box at Emirates Stadium and is still very close to Wenger.
A series of boardroom obstacles would need to be overcome for Dein to return but the 69-year-old has never criticised the club publically since his acrimonious departure and is still held in high esteem by supporters for his role in the 1998-2005 trophy-laden years.
Goal.com understands that Wenger is prepared to push strongly for Dein to take charge of negotiating player transfers this summer as Arsenal prepare to make use of what is expected to be the biggest kitty in the club’s history.
The Arsenal board remain committed to Wenger despite a sizeable portion of fans calling for him to resign after they were dumped out of the FA Cup by Blackburn Rovers at the weekend as his 16-and-a-half year tenure plumbed new depths.
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Wenger's big name signings
Fee: £10.5 million (1999-00)
Fee: £3.5 million (1996-97)
|Jose Antonio Reyes
Fee: £13 million (2003-04)
Fee: £500,000 (1996-97)
Fee: £7 million (1996-97)
As revealed by Goal.com in December, Wenger had rebuffed an informal approach from the club to arrange a time to open discussions over a new deal, insisting that he would assess his future at the end of the season.
The 63-year-old’s contract expires in June 2014 and there had been a growing sense within the club that he would not sign another deal, and could even leave this summer if Arsenal fail to attain a Champions League place.
However, the Arsenal board, led by majority owner Stan Kroenke and chief executive Ivan Gazidis, do not want to lose Wenger and the club have approached him once again in recent weeks about extending his reign.
In turn, the Frenchman has indicated that he is ready to sit down and hold formal talks with the club about a new deal.
Wenger’s public stance is that he always honours his contracts and that no firm decision has been taken over his future beyond 2014. Indeed, ahead of Tuesday's Champions League clash against Bayern Munich the 63-year-old angrily denied reports that the club were set to offer him a new two-year deal saying "That is the wrong information. It only has one intention: to harm."
Nevertheless, there is a growing possibility that he could put pen to paper on a new contract before the start of next season to end speculation about the direction in which the club are heading.
The boardroom impetus comes at a time when Wenger's stock among a large section of the Arsenal support is perhaps at the lowest ebb of his long reign.
The club have been knocked out of the two domestic competitions by lower-league opposition this season and lie fifth in the Premier League table, four points behind fourth-placed Tottenham.
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However, senior Arsenal officials want 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 last summer’s key signings Santi Cazorla and Lukas Podolski.
The new financial fair play rules have already squeezed the spending of Manchester City and Chelsea, and Arsenal believe the Frenchman can take advantage of this to build a squad genuinely capable of challenging for trophies.
Although Arsenal’s sole remaining hope of ending a trophy-less run that dates back to 2005 lies in winning the Champions League, the board remain convinced in the abilities of Wenger and put far greater store in his record of top-four finishes and success in navigating the group stages of the Europe’s flagship competition year after year.
The club’s longest-serving manager is also appreciated by the board for maintaining the club's elite status either side of the move from Highbury while having a transfer budget that was dwarfed by the club's rivals.
The north Londoners' high command are also convinced that new commercial deals, such as the recently-announced £150million Emirates contract that comes into effect from 2014, leave Arsenal even better positioned in the medium and long term than they are now.