Arsene Wenger torn over his Arsenal future as club deny approaching Dortmund head coach Thomas Tuchel

james olley
Evening Standard

Arsene Wenger remains torn over his future as Arsenal manager.

The 67-year-old said after Saturday’s 3-1 defeat at West Brom that he had a made a decision as to whether he will continue beyond the end of the season but Standard Sport understands that was merely an emotional reaction to another damaging result.

Wenger has publicly stated his preference to stay at Arsenal but fan opposition towards the Frenchman has reached unprecedented levels following a run of six defeats in nine games across three competitions.

Two planes were flown over The Hawthorns - one protesting at the board’s offer of a two-year deal and the other demanding he is shown greater respect - summing up the civil war which has broken out among fans.

Caught in a storm: Wenger as Arsenal lose at The Hawthorns Photo: Lindsey Parnaby/AFP/Getty Images
Caught in a storm: Wenger as Arsenal lose at The Hawthorns Photo: Lindsey Parnaby/AFP/Getty Images

Wenger is acutely aware of the deep divide but it is believed he is still desperate to lead the team to Premier League and Champions League success.

Majority shareholder Stan Kroenke and chief executive Ivan Gazidis have not put Wenger under any pressure to make his intentions public despite the team falling to sixth in the table, six points behind the top four.

But it is understood Wenger will use the international break to mull over the situation amid a recognition the speculation has become an unwelcome sideshow accompanying the team’s underperformance.

Wenger, Gazidis and Kroenke all hope the environment will soon exist in which a new contract can be accepted by the majority of fans but that is only even theoretically possible if their form improves immediately. Arsenal face a huge test of their resolve against Manchester City when the top flight resumes in just under two weeks.

Arsenal moved swiftly this morning to deny a report from German newspaper Bild that the club had approached Borussia Dortmund head coach Thomas Tuchel. Although several names have been discussed internally, no contact has yet been made with anyone as Kroenke hopes Wenger will stay, even if the club finish outside the top four.

The club have begun to take steps to plan for Wenger’s succession regardless of whether he departs when his deal expires in the summer. Arsenal’s chief transfer negotiator, Dick Law, will step down from his role as part of a restructuring of the club’s hierarchy.

Law’s relationship with Gazidis is believed to have deteriorated over recent months but there has also been an acceptance that a director of football needs to be appointed to oversee the transition into the post-Wenger era.

No preferred candidate has yet been identified but the role will encompass taking control of transfer policy, contract negotiations and co-ordinating scouting - all aspects of business that Wenger has the greatest influence on.

It is also understood that Wenger has discussed possible summer transfer targets with senior players, thereby dropping a further hint over his desire to extend his 21-year stay.

Another aspect of such discussions has been to convince players locked in a contract stalemate that the club are ready to match their ambition by conducting significant business when the transfer market reopens.

Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez are yet to commit their futures to Arsenal despite having less than 15 months to run on their contracts.

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