Arsenal to pay big for stars in bid to reclaim title
Gunners will lift wage cap and clear out dead wood as they seek to recapture Premiership
EIGHT seasons and counting. As the wait for a trophy goes on, Arsenal fans could be forgiven for wondering if the club's trophy cabinet is destined to remain one of the long-term unemployed. Such was the delight among manager and players that greeted the Gunners' fourth-place Premier League finish, one could be forgiven for thinking that silverware has ceased to be important at the Emirates. It's all about qualifying for the UEFA Champions League – and the £25m guaranteed revenue that entails.
Not so, says Arsenal chief executive Ivan Gazidis, who claims Arsenal are on the brink of reasserting their dominance in English football thanks to the munificence of majority shareholder Stan Kroenke. "Mr Kroenke has made it clear that our ultimate objective is to win major trophies," said Gazidis. "We all share that ambition. Arsene [Wenger] and I have been planning what we need to do."
According to the Daily Mail, which carries the comments of Gazidis, Kroenke "has given the go-ahead for Arsenal to increase their wage bill to help the club become title contenders next season". Currently German international Lukas Podolski and England frontman Theo Walcott are the top earners, on around £100,000 a week, but the Mail says under the proposed restructuring the club would be prepared to offer £150,000 a week. That's still a good way short of what Arsenal's rivals pay their top players, but it should still help the Gunners attract some of the world's top talent over the summer.
The Daily Telegraph says manager Wenger has a £70m transfer kitty and intends to embark on an "adventurous" foray into the transfermarket, conscious that he will need to act quickly before the new managers at Chelsea and the two Manchester clubs join the hunt for new players. Top of Wenger's list is Real Madrid's Gonzalo Higuaín. The Telegraph says Arsenal are poised to pay £19m for the Argentine striker, which would be a club record transfer fee. In addition, the Telegraph says Arsenal are in the market for a goalkeeper, a holding midfielder and a right-back.
Meanwhile the Mail claims that Arsenal will free up space in the dressing-room for their new arrivals by clearing much of the dead wood that has cluttered up the Emirates in recent seasons. It's expected the Gunners will save £18m a season in salaries, as soon as they have got shot of Andrey Arshavin, Johan Djourou, Sebastien Squillaci, Nicklas Bendtner, Marouane Chamakh, Park Chu-young and Andre Santos. The paper claims that Arsenal "will also consider offers" for club captain Thomas Vermaelen and Ivory Coast flop Gervinho.
With so much upheaval, perhaps 2014 will be the year Arsenal's trophy cabinet finally gets back on the employment ladder.