Arsenal: Why Arsene Wenger might stay for one more year

LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 28: Arsene Wenger, Manager of Arsenal looks on prior to the Premier League match between Crystal Palace and Arsenal at Selhurst Park on December 28, 2017 in London, England. (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 28: Arsene Wenger, Manager of Arsenal looks on prior to the Premier League match between Crystal Palace and Arsenal at Selhurst Park on December 28, 2017 in London, England. (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images) /

There is growing speculation that Arsenal are ready to move on from Arsene Wenger this summer. However, here are some reasons why he might just end up staying one more year.

Arsene Wenger may be about to leave Arsenal this summer. That is, at least, the prevailing the wisdom at this current time. Rumours fly regarding Thomas Tuchel, the Ivan Gazidis ‘catalyst for change’, the growing weary of an out-of-date Wenger, and, for many, such developments have been enough to deem the near-22-year tenure all but over.

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But is there a chance that Wenger might not quite be finished yet? Are there comments, reasons, excuses, even, that have been made, or could be made, that may just see Wenger stay for one more year? Well, yes. Actually, there’s quite a lot, so much so that the thinking of Wenger being set to leave at the end of the year has a great many questions to answer, questions that, currently, are somewhat troubling.

The context of all this comes here: Wenger will get to decide when he is to leave. I should not quite be so certain in stating that. It has been only been reported here, for instance. But it is the opinion of Arsenal player Alex Scott. It is the opinion of Ray Parlour. It is the opinion of Harry Redknapp.

Also, read this answer that he gave to journalists back in 2012 when answering questions of when he will leave:

"” I will assess my own performances and then make a decision, at the moment we are not there <…> I have to consider that at my age, you always have to assess if you have the fitness, the desire, the commitment that this job demands. Then, of course, you have to make your decisions. I hope I will be lucid enough and intelligent enough to assess my performance well. I am an Arsenal man. I think I have always shown that. I have to consider if I do well or not. If I don’t do well, I have to consider my future.”"

There’s a lot of Is in there.

None of these actually confirms that Wenger is the one who chooses when he leaves. But there are reasons to think that it could be the case. It would certainly be naive to believe that Wenger will not have a substantial say at the very least.

From that standpoint, then, consider these comments from Wenger about his personal future just a year ago:

"“No matter what happens, I will manage next season, whether it’s here or somewhere else. That’s absolutely for sure.”"

They are not the words of someone who is waiting to retire. He is still as fired as up for management ever. That sentiment is something that Steve Bould would agree with. Wenger’s assistant was asked about his boss’ desire to win this week. His response was eye-opening, to say the least:

"“He is remarkable. Behind closed doors, I’ve never known someone who’s as hungry and determined to win football games. It’s as big as I’ve ever seen, for sure.”"

This is a man who is as hungry to win as anyone that Bould, a professional player and coach who has been involved in the game since his debut in September 1981 for Stoke City, nearly 37 years ago, has seen. It doesn’t seem to me that Wenger is willing to walk away from the game at the end of this season, whether he is forced to or not.

Finally, consider these comments, again from Wenger, in February of this year:

"“I have always respected my contracts. I would like to remind you I said no to all the biggest clubs in the world to respect my contract so that’s always what I try to do.”"

Wenger has always held his contract in a special prestige. He has, as he says, always respected it. I have little doubt that he will want to do exactly the same here.

So, it’s fairly clear that Wenger doesn’t want to leave and has little intention of retiring. So the only way that he leaves this summer is if Arsenal actively fire him. Given that he will certainly play a part in that decision, that seems in-the-balance at best. Moreover, consider the recent construction of the squad, a construction that, unlike in previous years, was not necessarily masterminded by Wenger alone.

Arsenal, in the last two transfer windows, have acquired five players. Of those five players, four came as what could be considered as ready-made additions: Sead Kolasinac, Alexandre Lacazette, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Henrikh Mkhitaryan. That is a very un-Arsenal approach to the transfer window. It seems to me that they are gearing up for one last run at the Premier League title, one last swansong for Wenger, one roll of the dice.

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Clearly, none of this means that Wenger is definitely going to stay. The reports of the search for possible successors are not wholly unfounded. They have come from somewhere. But there are questions that must be answered. Wenger’s drive to win. Wenger’s respect for his contract. Wenger’s influence on the decision. The building of the squad. Like it or not, but it could well be the case that we are in for one more year of Arsene Wenger.