Arsene Wenger making transfer plans for next season as he vows to turn Arsenal's campaign around

James Benge
Arsenal FC via Getty Images

Arsene Wenger has revealed he is already making transfer plans for next season because he is convinced he is the man to drag Arsenal out of their rut.

In the latest indication that Wenger wants to stay beyond the end of his current contract he revealed that he is already considering the positions Arsenal need to strengthen after another disappointing campaign in which their title challenge fell apart some time before the season reached its denouement.

Wenger certainly had the funds to push on from last season’s second-placed finish behind Leicester and spent nearly £90million on Granit Xhaka, Shkodran Mustafi and Lucas Perez. However Arsenal seem as far as they have been from their first league title since 2004 and now face a battle to secure their annual berth in the top four.

Whilst Wenger insisted he was not in “transfer mode” ahead of a crucial clash against Manchester City that will go some way to dictating Arsenal’s hopes of Champions League qualification he said that he is already considering what his must do to bridge the gap to league leaders Chelsea next season, even though his contract expires in a few months.

“Of course I am [planning for next season],” Wenger said. “That’s why I said if I stay for two months or two years I’ll do my job exactly the same.

“We analyse what we need to strengthen but we are not, at the moment, in negotiations with players.”

Wenger admitted that those transfer plans, which include Middlesbrough defender Ben Gibson, are not aided by doubts over his own future as he continues to evade questions over whether he will sign the two year contract extension on offer.

The instability in the dugout is similarly not aiding the club’s attempts to tie down Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil to new contracts, with the latter having made clear that the chance to work with Wenger convinced him to move from Real Madrid in 2013.

However the Frenchman is in no doubt Arsenal can still attract Europe’s top talent with or without him.

“We are always honest when we speak with people. I think Arsenal is a world brand today who is respected all over the world.

“The Arsenal name is bigger than my name. Coming to Arsenal is more important than coming to Arsene Wenger.”

Whether the value of the Arsenal brand will be as strong if they fail to qualify for the Champions League remains to be seen, though Chelsea manager Antonio Conte may well tell Wenger that transfer business becomes significantly more challenging during a season outside Europe’s elite.

But that is a very real prospect for Arsenal next season. Though winning their two games in hand would take them level with Liverpool in the fourth and final Champions League spot the Gunners are unquestionably the top six’s weakest link.

The 3-1 defeat at West Brom before the international break was the sort of result that could be terminal for a manager at a more impatient club but Wenger is convinced that he has the experience and knowhow to drag Arsenal out of their rut.

“I’m in a place I don’t want to be, we’ve lost a big game and I will play another one we absolutely have to win,” Wenger admitted.

“But I’m focused and I know what to do. I have managed enough games to know that sometimes in football you have to go through tricky periods.

“Every difficult period is a good opportunity to show what you’re about and for the team to show what we’re about.”

The coming weeks will provide Arsenal players with exactly that.