Wenger extends Arsenal reign as club unveils Puma kit deal
Manager will sign new Emirates contract says Gazidis and will have Puma cash to spend
ARSENAL have been given a double boost ahead of tonight's trip to Southampton in the Premier League. Not only did the Gunners announce a record £150m kit deal, chief executive Ivan Gazidis also confirmed that manager Arsene Wenger will be extending his stay at the Emirates.
Wenger arrived in north London in 1996 and, following the retirement of Alex Ferguson last year, is the longest-serving manager in the Premier League by some distance; Newcastle boss Alan Pardew is next on the list having kept his job for just over three years.
Though sections of Arsenal fans have called for the Frenchman's head in recent seasons, citing both a lack of trophies and big-name signings, Wenger has silenced his critics this season. First there was the record £42.5m signing of Mesut Ozil on the last day of August's transfer window, and then there's the form of the Gunners. Currently riding high in the Premier League, Arsenal are in the fifth round of the FA Cup and face Bayern Munich next month in the Last 16 of the Champions League having come through the Group of Death in the autumn.
Wenger's reward, it seems, will be a new contract with Arsenal chief executive Ivan Gazidis making no bones about the fact he sees the 64-year-old as the man to steer the club forward. Speaking on Monday during the unveiling of a lucrative kit deal with Puma, Gazadis said: "We've always supported Arsene and Arsene has always been committed to this football club. Arsene will be extending with us and at the right time we will make that announcement."
Though Gazadis wouldn't be drawn on when that might be, he reiterated Wenger's commitment to the club, telling reporters: "It's the football club of his life so we're convinced at the right time we'll quietly make an announcement and he's the right person to see us forward."
Assuming Wenger does indeed commit himself to Arsenal, he'll have even more money to splash out on new players following the club's merchandising deal with Puma. Worth £30m a season for the next five years, the partnership ends the Gunners' 20-year association with Nike, whose current contract expires at the end of the season.
According to The Guardian, the £30m deal is up there with the best of them, superior to Barcelona's £27m-a-season contract with Nike and only just short of Real Madrid's £31m-a-year contract with Adidas.
"The money from this deal will be available to the club from this summer," explained a delighted Gazadis. "This represents another important step forward in Arsenal's progression on and off the pitch. It's a validation of the things we're doing right... We have a vision to be competing at the top of the world's game. We're not where we want to be yet but we want to be competing with the best clubs in the world. We're doing it our way, without relying on any single individual."