COMMENT by Harry Sykes
Ahead of the January transfer window, all Arsenal talk is centred around contract talks with stars Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil.
The pair are hugely important to the club, not just because they’re world-class players, but because Arsenal can’t afford to be seen as a selling club any longer.
However, there is one man whose signature is even more important to the club – Arsene Wenger.
Wenger has been Arsenal’s manager since 1996, and has brought the club three Premier League titles and six FA Cups.
He’s been criticised in the past couple of years for not delivering enough silverware to the Emirates, and the last Premier League title came in the 2003/04 season.
The closest he came to winning the Champions League was back in 2005/06 when Arsenal were unlucky to lose 2-1 to Barcelona in the final. They had Jens Lehmann sent off early on but still took the lead through Sol Campbell, only to lose to two late goals.
What he has delivered though is financial stability and unbelievable consistency. Arsenal have qualified for the Champions League every year for the past 17 years – something that none of his rivals can claim.
They’re still in the competition this season after impressively topping their group and got unlucky to draw Bayern Munich in the round of 16.
Wenger’s contract runs out at the end of the season and although some fans might think his time at the club has come to the end, it’s vital that he signs an extension as soon as possible.
Other big clubs have proved that it’s tough to replace a long-standing manager. You’ve only got to look at Manchester United to see the proof.
Wenger has just announced that Arsenal can now compete with the financial big hitters in the Premier League like Manchester City.
The first bit of proof came in the form of the new long-term contract signed by Hector Bellerin, despite interest from some of the world’s biggest clubs.
With that in mind it’s time for Wenger to move into his end game and cement his legacy by committing to the club for at least another two seasons.
He should break Arsenal’s wage structure to sign Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil, show Manchester City that they’re not a selling club by doing the same with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, and plot at least one more world class signing next summer.
With one or two more players of the calibre of Sanchez, Arsenal would have a squad that could finally deliver Wenger the Premier League title he so desperately wants before retiring.
However, it all has to start with his signature. And, with time running out on his contract, this should be seen as a priority.
If the #WengerOut campaign finally gets its wish, the team as fans know it at the moment could be a thing of the past.