Patrick Vieira tipped to replace Wenger if he quits Arsenal
Gunners boss will be handed a £100m transfer kitty if he stays, but will France lure him away?
IT'S a refrain that Arsenal fans have heard before, but this summer Arsene Wenger will be given a massive transfer budget to help bring success back to the Emirates... if he is still in charge of the Gunners.
While the Daily Telegraph reports that Arsenal owner Stan Kroenke is steadfast in his belief that Wenger is the man to take Arsenal forward and will give him a £100m kitty at the end of the season, others believe that the Frenchman may be preparing to jump ship.
Wenger, whose contract expires at the end of the current campaign, has so far declined to sign an extension, preferring to wait until the summer to agree a new deal. That has led to speculation that if the Gunners fail to end their nine-year trophy drought by winning the FA Cup and drop out of the top four of the Premier League he will walk away, possibly to take over as manager of France.
According to Caughtoffside, whose story does not appear to be an April Fools' joke, Wenger "is set to finally call it quits in the capital this summer".
The website adds that former midfielder Patrick Vieira heads up a three-man shortlist of candidates to replace him, along with Jurgen Klopp of Borussia Dortmund and Everton boss Roberto Martinez.
The Sunday People has also identified Vieira as a possible replacement for Wenger. It says that the French enforcer "is proving a big hit as coach of Manchester City’s under-21 side and his name is being mentioned as part of a management team that could eventually succeed Wenger".
The paper believes that the lure of managing France at Euro 2016 may be too great for Wenger to resist. "The French would ideally want Wenger in the job as soon as this summer’s World Cup is over to give him time to shape their Euro 2016 campaign," says the paper.
However, the Telegraph insists that the view from the Arsenal boardroom and dressing room is that Wenger will stay on.
"Kroenke, the majority owner, is convinced that the club have made very definite progress this season and is sympathetic to how Wenger has been forced to navigate this past month without as many as five of his usual starting team," writes Jeremy Wilson, who says that when Wenger does sign a new deal he will be presented with £100m "for key signings, notably a striker and holding midfielder".
"Kroenke also remains relaxed about Wenger's own future and, although some contingency thinking has been done, every plan is being made on the basis that Wenger will extend a contract that expires at the end of the season," he adds.