The director of football role that has remained unoccupied at Arsenal since the abrupt departure of David Dein two years ago has now unofficially been filled in part by an American who once scouted for the club in South America.
Dick Law, who helped bring Gilberto Silva and Carlos Vela to Arsenal, has become the club's fixer on transfer deals and the re-negotiation of contracts for existing players. That was a key part of the job done by Dein before he was forced out by a boardroom putsch in April 2007 and Arsène Wenger has always been against bringing in a high-profile name to fill the role.
Under new chief executive Ivan Gazidis, Law, with Wenger's blessing, has become a more central figure at the club. He was previously Arsenal's scout in South America and, subsequently North America and helped to establish Wenger's network of scouts there. He is understood to be in London for two weeks per month and players seeking to open talks on new deals are being directed towards him.
The club are adamant that Law is not to be regarded as a director of football and that he is only a consultant to the club rather than a full-time employee. Law, a Fifa-licensed agent, has an office at the training ground and his main responsibilities are strategy, contract negotiations, administration and planning.
There is no question of Law influencing Wenger's transfer decisions or putting pressure on the Arsenal manager to buy certain players. The club are very eager that his role is not confused with the much more influential job Frank Arnesen did at Chelsea and Damien Comolli once performed at Tottenham.
Law is close to Wenger's chief scout Steve Rowley, who is a long-serving ally of the Arsenal manager and has played a key role in the transfer coups for players such as Theo Walcott and Aaron Ramsey. Another of Law's projects is understood to be the establishing of feeder clubs for Arsenal around the world that would allow them access to the best young players.
Law had connections with Dein before he became more involved in working with the club. Law's name came up when Arsenal were obliged to defend their conduct in the High Court in 2005 over Gilberto Silva's transfer from Atletico Mineiro three years previously. They were accused by the player's then-agent of bypassing him in the deal. Arsenal were cleared of any wrongdoing.
It is anticipated that Law will be given the job of taking care of contracts for all players from the academy to the senior team. The club hope that the addition of Law to oversee contracts will mean there is less chance of the young teams that Wenger has built over the last three years being picked off by other clubs. They announced that Eduardo da Silva had signed a new deal yesterday – understood to be four years, although for reasons known only to themselves Arsenal never disclose the lengths of player contracts.
The Croatian striker was still on the original contract that he signed in the summer of 2007 when he joined from Dynamo Zagreb. His long-term injury, sustained in February 2008, meant that he had not negotiated a new deal and both sides agreed to wait until his return. The latest contract should put him up with the £40,000-£50,000-a-week earners.
There had been suggestions in the last two weeks that Rafael Benitez was interested in making an offer for Eduardo in January although it would appear that the contract talks were well-advanced by then. Wenger said: "We have seen in his comeback from injury, Eduardo is a human being full of courage, bravery and commitment. His full recovery from this injury is a testament to his character."
There was some good news on the injury front for Wenger yesterday when it was discovered that Kieran Gibbs did not break his ankle playing for England Under-21s against Lithuania on Tuesday night. The 20-year-old was forced to come off in the 21st minute of the match and it was feared that he might be yet another casualty from international week after Robin van Persie ruptured his ankle ligaments playing for the Netherlands.
Gibbs will miss Saturday's game away at Sunderland. He will be fit to play against Standard Liège next week but given that Arsenal only need a single point from their two remaining Champions League games to qualify it is likely that he will be rested with a view to him being ready for the Chelsea match on 29 November. First-choice left-back Gaël Clichy is out until next month with a back problem.