Arsene Wenger has verbally agreed a new two-year contract to remain Arsenal manager until at least 2019, extending his extraordinary tenure at the club into a 23rd year.
The deal has been offered by majority owner Stan Kroenke and, while subject to formal ratification at a board meeting on Tuesday lunchtime, Wenger’s continuation as manager is now regarded as a formality.
As revealed by Sources ahead of the final Premier League game of the season against Everton, Wenger paved the way for staying after being reassured that changes proposed to the sporting structure by chief executive Ivan Gazidis would not impact on his core decision making.
An official announcement will be made on Wednesday when Wenger and Kroenke are expected to outline their vision and determination to make Arsenal again challenge to win the Premier League.
Gazidis has been looking at candidates for a new sporting director/operations role to coordinate and streamline the work around Wenger on issues ranging from scouting and medicine to youth development and analytics.
Wenger has been told that his core powers – coaching, picking the team and directing the transfer strategy – will not be affected but has been sensitive about the parameters of change and also did not want any of his core staff to leave against his will.
Kroenke has spent time with Wenger since Saturday’s FA Cup final win and his backing for the Frenchman remains absolute. The Cup final was never going to be decisive in Kroenke’s decision and, while there is a desire now to address what went so wrong in February and March this year, the overall context of three FA Cup wins in four years and Premier League positions of fourth, fourth, second and fifth in that time were also taken into account.
Details of structural changes are unlikely to be announced tomorrow, with the club still looking at candidates for a new sporting operations role. A team of people that includes chief scout Steve Rowley, chief executive Ivan Gazidis and transfer negotiator Dick Law already also work on recruitment and there is no plan to withdraw Wenger’s final say on which players Arsenal sign.
Although there has clearly been some tension over the best way forward, Gazidis and Wenger have been working together closely in recent weeks and that partnership is set to continue. If Wenger does continue until the end of the 2018-19 season, he would go past Sir Alex Ferguson’s all-time record of Premier League games.