Arsene Wenger is heading into another rough summer of trying to hold on to his best player, this time Robin van Persie. But maybe he’ll have a bit more of a financial aid this time, as Arsenal chiefs are planning on restructuring the wage bill in order to allow keeping and bringing in top talent.
A club like Arsenal can’t be a feeder club, everyone knows that. They aren’t European giants, but it seemed that during the previous decade and generally, ever since Arsene Wenger set foot in the club, they were going in that direction. Albeit slowly and carefully, but that was the general idea.
Roman Abramovich changed all that. Arsenal haven’t won a league title since 2004, and have looked like an outsider when it has come to title races ever since – finishing well behind or stumbling across the finish line, coming in a bit too late.
Last summer and the beginning of the 2011-2012 season was probably the lowest point of Arsene Wenger’s tenure in London. Cesc Fabregas couldn’t have been held back much longer. He wanted to return to Barcelona, and a big bundle of cash plus a unhappy star made Wenger accept the deal. He probably waited too long to allow it, leaving him without Fabregas and very soon Samir Nasri to kick off the season.
Things did improve. Not through signings. Only Mikel Arteta looked like a solid and successful buy during Wenger’s panic period, bringing in anything he could get his hands on without paying too much of a price. Robin van Persie was the main reason, although Wenger does deserve credit from stabilizing the ship.
In order that another summer doesn’t repeat itself; In order to ensure that Arsenal are title challengers next season, a new way of thinking has to be implemented, and executed. We’ve been hearing about how this is a ‘young’ team for five years now. Except for compliments on style and patience, nothing really has come out of Wenger’s building. He has a star he needs to hold on to, but also add to.
Van Persie is currently in negotiations for an extended, improved contract. He makes £70,000 a week, with quite a few clubs capable of offering him double that amount, and more. He has dropped hints, heading into the Euro with the Netherlands, that he’s thinking about others. Not saying it clearly, merely implying.
But in order for Wenger to get the funds needed to keep Van Persie and bring in above average talent, he needs cash. And Arsenal isn’t a club too eager to spend, despite being one of the more profitable in Europe. Getting rid of excess baggage is neccesary first and foremost.
Like Manuel Almunia and Marouane Chamakh who earn almost £60,000 a week. Arsenal want to bring in more than just Lukas Podolski. The plan is to clear £23 million off the wage bill in order to create room and wage flexibility for incoming, premier talent.
Ivan Gazidis, the club’s chief executive, explains – Our wage structure has been based around a flatter salary structure – that is part of a team ethos the manager develops, it’s about interaction between players – not superstars. But we have looked at this carefully and we have to make adjustments for top talent. They are earning a lot of money and I don’t think that will slow down. We have to adjust our model.