According to The Sun (subscription only), Arsenal chief executive Ivan Gazidis has reopened talks with Wenger over a two-year extension to his current deal, which would be worth around £15 million.
Even a few days ago, such a story seemed improbable.
In the weeks prior to deadline day, Wenger was under fire from the fans and the media. After a summer of speculation, his failure to land a big-name signing was creating frustration and fury.
The atmosphere at the Emirates Stadium was volatile, as evidenced by the expletive-laden chants urging Arsene Wenger to spend some money.
The signing of Mesut Ozil, coinciding with a crucial derby victory over Tottenham, has created a renewed sense of optimism around the club.
Arsenal have joined the big spenders and in doing so recruited a player of undoubted quality. Arsenal have not made a signing of this calibre since Dennis Bergkamp joined the club in 1995. Gunners fans are rejoicing at the arrival of one of European football’s most talented stars.
It’s clear that Wenger’s role in convincing the player to join was enormous. According to The Telegraph, Wenger interrupted his preparations for the North London derby to make a pivotal phone call to Ozil.
Their conversations, conducted in fluent German, convinced the playmaker to swap the Bernabeu for the Emirates Stadium.
Ozil himself has made Wenger’s influence on his decision perfectly clear. He told the Arsenal official website:
I am thrilled to be joining a club of the stature of Arsenal and am looking forward to playing in the Premier League. It will be great for my own personal development as a player and I am particularly looking forward to working with Arsène Wenger.
The deal is a huge coup for the club, but also a personal coup for Wenger.
In one fell swoop, the French manager has reminded everyone of his enormous standing in world football and the associated pulling power that brings. Wenger has previously seemed reluctant to spend Arsenal’s vast reserves of cash. However, the Ozil deal suggests that few could spend it better.
Manchester United have spent the summer discovering that it can be hard to convince a player to sign if you do not have the right manager in place. David Moyes failed in highly-publicised moves for Cesc Fabregas, Thiago Alcantara and Cristiano Ronaldo.
Wenger, meanwhile, secured one of the world’s best players in a single phone call.
However, that alone is not justification for a new contract.
One swallow does not make a summer, and Wenger’s summer was far from perfect. Arsenal still ended the transfer window with gaping holes in their squad, particularly at centre-forward and centre-back.
Wenger went for cheap options in Mathieu Flamini and Yaya Sanogo when he could have invested more heavily in squad players.
Had Ozil not become surprisingly available on the last weekend of the window, Arsenal might have gone the entire summer without spending a penny.
Results on the pitch should ultimately be the deciding factor. The signing of Ozil has improved the mood around the club, but if Arsenal fall out of the top four it will have all been for nothing.
Big signings are not an end in themselves. The reason Arsenal fans have craved the addition of an established star is because they feel it will help them challenge for trophies again. Big names ought to bring big prizes.
Arsenal should hold off on contract negotiations until the end of this season, when the board can gauge whether or not Ozil’s arrival is helping Arsenal move towards competing for major silverware.
Wenger has proved he can lure big players. Now he has to prove he can still harness their talent to create a winning team.
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