20 January 2014

Silent Stan's in London. Might there be more than one contract to sign?

It's being reported that majority owner Stan Kroenke is in London to finalize a new contract with manager Arsène Wenger, said to be a three-year deal worth £24m. As important as it is to secure Arsenal's near-future by keeping it in Arsène's hands, I can't help but hope that there are other machinations and agreements to be made.

On one hand, handing a new contract to Arsène is on its own reason enough for Kroenke to hop across the pond, but, on the other, it is January, and the transfer-window will only be open for a few more precious weeks. Could the two have more on their agenda than Arsène's deal? Please?

New rumors come and go with the frequency and constancy of a Miley Cyrus scandals, so it's hard to focus attention on any one of them at any given time. However, with talk around Draxler persisting, and now Juventus's Mirko Juvinic, among others, please don't blame me for getting my hopes up.

As I discussed in my previous post, I suspect that Arsène is looking beyond his time with the club, building a squad that can adjust to a new manager because of its own strength and cohesiveness. With that in mind, if I have any inklings or insights into the man's thinking, signing players like Vucinic, Berbatov, and even Jackson Martinez or Mario Mandzukic seem less and less likely to me because their ages reduce them to short-term stop-gaps at best.

At the risk of letting my optimism get the better of me, then, a three-year contract for Arsène keeps him at the club until the close of the 2016-2017 season, at which point a player like Julian Draxler would have matured, reaching the heights of that potent elixir of youth and experience as the rest of the squad, men currently in their early twenties, may well have coalesced into one of the most-dominant sides in the Prem. Yes, other players would be needed, especially on defense, but there is nothing to say that players like Koscielny or Mertesacker can't play another four or five years—after all, John Terry and Nemanja Vidic, while not the dominant players they once were, are still candidates in the debate for best center-backs.

While it's far more likely that Kroenke has come to London to put ink to Arsène's contract, and that we may have to wait until summer to see significant signings, I daresay that confirming Arsène's presence at the club could go a long way towards convincing certain players to commit to a club about whose fture they might otherwise have concerns about. Look down the table at other clubs that are under new management, and it's easy to see why players might want to know who'll be in charge of Arsenal before they commit. It's not just stability or continuity that Kroenke and Arsène would be signing off on; players would know for certain that they'd play under a manager renowned for taking talented, young players and turning them into superstars, even legends.

The contract Arsène is apparently about to sign (or has signed already) would bring him to his 67th birthday, and it might then be the last time for young players to play under one of this generation's best managers, one singularly capable of putting polish to diamonds in the rough to bring out their brilliance in a way few other managers, if any, can. Knowing that Arsène will be at the helm for another three years might be just enough to convince Draxler or Costa or Pogba to more seriously consider a mid-season switch in order to maximize their time with Arsène.

It's not as far-fetched as it may sound (at least, that's what I keep telling myself). Let's hope that Stan and Arsène agree to terms quickly and then can turn the discussion to which player or players should and could be brought in to strengthen our title-chase. I could think of no better send-off for Arsène than to win a few pieces of silverware, this year and in years to come.