Arsenal chief executive Ivan Gazidis has defended the club’s decision to retain Arsene Wenger and assured fans they are only “looking for top-quality players” this summer.
Wenger was handed a new two-year deal after leading the club to victory in the FA Cup final, but the fans were split on the Frenchman’s future at the club.
The Gunners finished outside the top four for the first time in 21 years and that was enough for many fans to call for Wenger’s 21-year reign to come to an end.
Gazidis though believes Wenger’s new £8million a year contract was in the best interests of the club.
“It wasn’t a sentimental decision,” Gazidis told fans at Q&A. “It was a mutual one.”
“We spent an unprecedented amount. Over £110m during that summer,” he said. “We signed one of the players in the Bundesliga team of the season.
“We’re looking for top-quality players. We’ve got three times as many scouts as we had four years ago. I believe that to be a world-class football club you’ve got to be world class off the pitch.
“I care about the club and those values. I want the club to be successful.”
The Gunners spent £30million-plus on Granit Xhaka and Shkodran Mustafi last summer and Gazidis is confident they will invest in the team this season too.
While Gazidis also praised Arsenal majority owner Stan Kroenke, who has been accused of prioritising profit over trophies.
“He hasn’t put debt on the football club,” added Gazidis. “He’s been nothing but supportive. If you think it’s all about money, there are far more easier ways than owning sports teams.
“I think we do need a better connection with our fanbase. I was telling someone recently I hadn’t had an hour of my time since the end of the season which wasn’t about club business.
“The goal is to win things for this football club and do it in a way which is consistent with our club values.”