LONDON (AFP) – Arsenal chief executive Ivan Gazidis said on Thursday that he believes manager Arsene Wenger is committed to the club for “the long term”, despite media reports linking him with a switch to Paris Saint-Germain.
Wenger, 63, will embark upon the last season of his current contract in August and with Arsenal’s trophy drought now stretching to eight years, there has been speculation he could be tempted to leave north London for pastures new.
However, with Arsenal having booked a Champions League berth for a 16th consecutive season, Gazidis believes Wenger remains the right man to take the club forward.
“We think we have got a fantastic manager. We hope that he wants to do what he is doing for the long term. I believe he does,” Gazidis said.
“I think he is still ambitious, still driven and sees the potential of the club as he looks forward and I think he is very excited by that. We have a great relationship and he has a great relationship with the board as well.
“So, quietly and at the right time, I think we will make an announcement on that (Wenger’s future) when things are all put in place.”
Despite the prospect of another Champions League campaign to look forward to next season, providing Arsenal successfully navigate the play-off round, Gazidis accepts that the club must aim their sights higher.
“We want to be competing at the top of the game and in order to do that you have to be in the Champions League, so we are pleased to be qualified, or at least, for the qualification games,” Gazidis said.
“But it is not ultimately where we want to be with moving the club forward. We want to be a club that is competing at the very top end of the game and that means competing to win the Premier League and competing to win the Champions League.”
Gazidis also expressed hope that Arsenal’s prudent financial management and reluctance to build up debts in pursuit of success would pay dividends in the years to come, as UEFA’s Financial Fair Play rules come into force.
He said: “The critical thing now as we look ahead over the next season and the season after is our developing financial capability, which will give us a lot more options than in recent years.”