WENGER HAS DE­CIDED

Arse­nal man­ager wants to stay as con­cerns grow over Ozil’s com­mit­ment

New Straits Times - - Sport -

ARSENE Wenger wants to stay at Arse­nal — but fresh con­cerns over Me­sut Ozil’s com­mit­ment to the club are emerg­ing.

Be­lea­guered boss Wenger has been con­tem­plat­ing leav­ing the Emi­rates Sta­dium in re­cent weeks but has de­cided he wants to stay be­yond the end of the sea­son de­spite watch­ing the club’s sea­son im­plode.

Wenger — acutely aware of grow­ing dis­con­tent from fans — is still not rul­ing out leav­ing when his con­tract ex­pires this sum­mer with the prospect of Arse­nal fin­ish­ing out­side the top four and miss­ing out on FA Cup glory weigh­ing heav­ily on his mind.

As re­ports of a move for Borus­sia Dort­mund man­ager Thomas Tuchel emerged in Ger­many, Wenger has told close al­lies it is now his in­ten­tion to stay.

But the long-term Gun­ners fu­ture of Ozil is look­ing far bleaker amid a mys­te­ri­ous ham­string in­jury that ruled the at­tacker out of the de­feat at West Brom on Satur­day.

Some play­ers be­lieved the Ger­man wouldn’t start against Tony Pulis’ side dur­ing Fri­day’s train­ing ses­sion, the last be­fore the game.

Ozil, though, did not fin­ish the ses­sion com­plain­ing of a ham­string strain, though the ex­tent of the in­jury is un­clear.

He re­ported for treat­ment over the week­end but is ex­pected to join up with Ger­many ahead of tomorrow’s clash against Eng­land in Dort­mund.

There was also some doubt over whether Ozil would start against Liver­pool ear­lier this month; but the for­mer Real Madrid missed train­ing ahead of the clash due to an ill­ness.

Like Ozil, there re­mains ma­jor un­cer­tainty over Wenger’s fu­ture.

De­spite their aw­ful run of six de­feats in nine; there re­mains a will­ing­ness from mem­bers of the Gun­ners hi­er­ar­chy — though not all — for Wenger to con­tinue next sea­son.

Sources claim the club’s cur­rent plight has only served to strengthen Wenger’s re­solve to sign a new con­tract.

Staff at the club’s Lon­don Col­ney HQ no­ticed a pos­i­tive change in Wenger’s mood last week, viewed as a in­di­ca­tion that the French­man has fi­nally made a de­ci­sion about his fu­ture.

Be­fore sign­ing his pre­vi­ous deal in 2014, staff no­ticed a sim­i­lar change in Wenger’s mood. Days later he be­gan telling staff that he’d de­cided to stay.

Wenger is yet to in­form at least the vast ma­jor­ity of his back­room team and play­ers about his plans but the grow­ing feel­ing is that Wenger is set to sign a new deal.

Wenger — who re­tains the sup­port of most play­ers — and the Arse­nal board have agreed a twoyear ex­ten­sion, but the French­man has not phys­i­cally signed the deal.

A po­ten­tial com­pro­mise of a 12month ex­ten­sion has been ex­plored, but such a sce­nario would be on a rolling con­tract ba­sis.

Wenger, though, will be urged to loosen his grip on the club’s foot­balling op­er­a­tion when he holds talks with the board over his fu­ture.

The Emi­rates hi­er­ar­chy are keen to in­tro­duce some in­fras­truc­tural changes as they pre­pare for life af­ter Wenger.

It was re­vealed on Feb 17 that the club are in­ter­ested in del­e­gat­ing some of Wenger’s cur­rent re­spon­si­bil­i­ties, with the ap­point­ment of a tech­ni­cal di­rec­tor on the agenda, par­tic­u­larly with the club’s chief ne­go­tia­tor Dick Law un­der­stood to be con­sid­er­ing leav­ing the club within the next 18 months.

Ad­di­tions to Wenger’s back­room staff — which has been ac­cused of be­ing stale in re­cent years — could also be dis­cussed.

Arsene Wenger wants to man­age Arse­nal be­yond this sea­son.

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