Arsenal set to break bank in bid to lure stars

Feb 28, 2013

Theo Walcott may find his £90,000 a week is chicken feed compared to new deals

ARSENAL are set to raise their wage ceiling to lure more expensive stars to the Emirates. But what star forward Theo Walcott will make of the news is anyone's guess.

Top players such as Robin Van Persie, Samir Nasri and Cesc Fabregas have left the London club for lucrative deals with rival clubs in recent seasons. Now it is reported that the Emirates wage structure is to be relaxed and salaries of up to £150,000 a week could be offered to big-name stars.

That is double what Arsenal offered to pay Walcott last summer. He agreed to extend his contract only after the club made him their highest-paid player at around £90,000 a week, following months of hard-nosed negotiations. He and Lukas Podolski are now said to be the highest earners at the club, but their deals could soon be eclipsed.

The Daily Telegraph claims that the Gunners were prepared to offer Van Persie £140,000 a week in a desperate bid to persuade him to stay last summer but he still chose to join Manchester United, where he rakes in around £200,000 a week.

This summer Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has a transfer kitty of some £70m, but if he wants to lure players like Stevan Jovetich and Mario Gotze he will have to offer them big money.

Despite the club's reputation for thriftiness its wage bill has long been the source of debate. It is believed to pay its stars £143m a year, some £50m more than Spurs and only £17m less than league leaders Manchester United.

However Arsenal could free up funds by offloading many fringe players who are paid huge sums yet rarely pull on the shirt. "The club will save £7.5m per year on wages when Andrey Arshavin and Sebastien Squillaci's contracts expire at the end of the season," reports the Daily Mail.

It adds that if Arsenal sold Bacary Sagna, Nicklas Bendtner, Andre Santos, Johan Djourou, Ju-young Park, Marouane Chamakh, Emmanuel Frimpong and Denilson it would save a further £24m a year.

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