Gazidis: Arsenal target top-class talent
Arsenal chief executive Ivan Gazidis has insisted that Arsene Wenger will spend money - but only on top-class talent.
Arsenal endured another campaign of toil, extending their trophyless run to eight seasons, and Wenger came under fire for failing to bring in the players needed to challenge at the top of the Premier League.
Supporters have seen the likes of Robin van Persie, Cesc Fabregas and Gael Clichy sold, and have been frustrated by the standard of players brought in to the Emirates after such key departures.
In the early weeks of the summer, the Gunners have been linked with names including Wayne Rooney, Gonzalo Higuain and the possible return of Fabregas.
But Arsenal fans have seen this in previous years, and at a meeting of the club's supporters' group and shareholders, Gazidis was questioned about summer transfer plans.
The chief executive, who recently insisted the club could afford to make a move for Manchester United striker Rooney, said: "Arsene is not scared to spend money, but he has to believe they are top-class players who will add to the squad. Can I guarantee he will spend all of the money available to him? That depends on the talent.
"Arsene has done an outstanding job to make sure Arsenal stay in the mix with the top teams - not where we want to be, but in the mix - on a relatively limited budget."
Arsenal secured a place in the top four on the final day of last season, and Gazidis has made it clear that was not good enough. He added: "We have been consistent, in that we haven't slid backwards or gone forwards. Now we need to go forwards. It is not enough to watch a video of a last-minute scramble to get over the line and into fourth place."
Gazidis also stuck up for the club's majority shareholder Stan Kroenke, whose public reticence on club matters has been a source of frustration for Gunners fans.
“What Stan Kroenke has not done is put debt on the club, taken any dividends or management fees out of the club," he said.
“We are fortunate in that he has not treated the club as his own personal fiefdom, as a reflection of his ego and as a personal playground. We haven’t seen a lot of the negatives that come with much of the ownership around the world. We feel our ownership situation is healthy and sustainable.”
The Arsenal Supporters' Trust has produced a report which recommends that changes be made at board level, and Gazidis acknowledged that a renewing of the hierarchy was necessary.
“We know the suggestions around governance,” he said when asked if he had read the report.
“It is not a secret that we have an ageing board that will need refreshing. The board acknowledges and understands that, and board succession is something we are looking and thinking about.
“It will be done the same way as Arsene Wenger’s contract — quietly and, at the right time, we will make announcements.”