Arsenal chief executive Ivan Gazidis has reiterated the need for change this summer regardless of whether Arsene Wenger remains manager.
In a question and answer session this morning with fans, Gazidis underlined how the club are planning for significant change this summer both on and off the pitch in an attempt to finally challenge again for the Premier League.
Wenger wants to go on and has told the club that he is ready to “reinvent” himself and Arsenal do believe that the 67-year-old is capable of becoming what Gazidis has called a “catalyst for change”.
However, there is also an appreciation of the fan mood around the club and Gazidis again stressed that the final decision must be “mutual”.
Although Wenger’s desire to stay on is clear, there is no clarity on when that decision will be made. Arsenal will never make a kneejerk call after one result but, equally, they clearly accept that agreement on extending Wenger’s contract cannot be reached amid both the current environment and recent run of results.
It all effectively leave Wenger’s 21-year tenure at the club resting on results over the next two months. A top-four finish and what would be an all-time record seventh FA Cup remain theoretically positive but, on current form, Arsenal are facing a fight to finish even in the top six. Since the end of January, their only wins have been against Burnley, Sutton and Lincoln.
Wenger is continuing to plan for the long-term and has been making plans to overhaul the squad if he stays.
Arsenal have also begun exploring candidates for a potential sporting director role. Dick Law has liaised closely with Wenger on player negotiations and contracts since 2009 and, while he would initially work with any appointment, it is understood that he is ready to step away from his current position in the longer-term.
The idea would also be to create a wider football operations role, with possible responsibilities stretching to shaping and fine-tuning the structures around sports science, medicine, scouting and recruitment, the academy and logistics.
It all further points to Arsenal planning for the changes that will follow the eventual departure of Wenger, although sources have stressed that this process is about the long-term and not specifically linked to whether the Frenchman stays beyond this summer.