Arsene Wenger is not considering seriously a job proposal from Real Madrid presidential candidate Florentino Perez, but the Arsenal manager is understood to be disillusioned at the prospect of another cut-price summer transfer budget. Despite claims by senior figures at the club in the past that Wenger could spend "£30m" on a single player, that is not understood to reflect the current situation.
Comments made by Wenger in an interview on French television that appeared on Sunday – in which he said that Perez's new Real Madrid project was "interesting" – renewed doubts over his future at Arsenal. However, Wenger has no intention of walking out on his contract at Arsenal that lasts until 2011, but that does not mean that he is entirely content with the situation at the club.
In August last year, Danny Fiszman, historically the most influential figure at the club and now an ally of the club's biggest shareholder Stan Kroenke, said Wenger would be permitted to spend £30m on a player if he saw fit. Despite that, it would appear Wenger, as he has said in the past, is still obliged to sell players before they can embark on a spending spree this summer.
In the previous two seasons, Wenger has said that the club must sell a player every year to help service the annual £24m payments on the Emirates Stadium. He has sold Thierry Henry and Alexander Hleb – both to Barcelona – over the last two seasons and the evidence suggests that a further sale will be in order this year if he is to continue financing the club.
That should be relatively simple with Emmanuel Adebayor's departure more than likely after his growing disenchantment and poor performances. However, it seems that Wenger, who spent £15m on Andrei Arshavin in January, will once again have to come up with a cut-price alternative to the Togo striker. The slightly cryptic interview given in France over the weekend may just have been the Arsenal manager hinting at his unhappiness.
Wenger also had to endure a rough ride from Arsenal supporters at last week's shareholders' forum. It is understood the Arsenal board has always sought to keep to the line that there is money available to spend on players because it is concerned that disillusionment among fans would strengthen the hand of Alisher Usmanov, the Uzbek billionaire who owns 25 per cent of the club and has promised large investment in the past.
Kroenke, who owns sport franchises in America including the NBA's Denver Nuggets, owns 28.3 per cent of the club having bought shares from Fiszman and the Carr family, the latter last month. He endorses Fiszman's view that the club can survive without a major benefactor and Wenger himself has rallied against what he perceives as "financial doping".
However, the Arsenal manager is now facing his most severe financial restraints. The midfielder Samir Nasri, signed last summer by Wenger, said yesterday that there was "no question" of his manager leaving. Nasri said: "I know that he still has a project for two years and he is counting on allowing Arsenal to rediscover its glorious past."
Those among Wenger's targets for next season are understood to include Ajax's Belgium international Thomas Vermaelen who would not fall into the category of Europe's most-expensive players.
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