Soccer-Arsenal talk up financial firepower, want to keep Wenger

LONDON, June 7 Fri Jun 7, 2013 5:43am EDT

LONDON, June 7 (Reuters) - Arsenal want manager Arsene Wenger to stay beyond the end of his contract next year and will offer him the funds to compete with Europe's top clubs for players, chief executive Ivan Gazidis told British newspapers.

Wenger, 63, is now the longest-serving Premier League manager after Alex Ferguson retired from his post at Manchester United.

He has steered Arsenal into the Champions League for 16 consecutive seasons. However, the north London club is without a trophy since 2005 and disgruntled fans have criticised the club for a perceived lack of ambition.

"We hope that Arsene wants to do what he is doing for the long term - I believe he does," the Daily Telegraph quoted Gazidis as saying.

Arsenal, majority owned by American businessman Stan Kroenke, believe that new sponsorship deals will allow them to compete in the transfer market with the likes of European champions Bayern Munich.

"This year we are beginning to see something we have been planning for some time, which is the escalation of our financial firepower," Gazidis added.

"We should be able to compete at a level like a club such as Bayern Munich."

Arsenal fans, who pay the highest ticket prices in the Premier League, are demanding quality reinforcements this summer to allow the club to mount a challenge for the title.

Arsenal have been linked in the media with Real Madrid Gonzalo Higuain and Manchester United's Wayne Rooney to lead their attack next season.

Gazidis did not discuss specific targets but said the club was in a position to pay a transfer fee of 25 million pounds ($38.81 million) and wages of 200,000 pounds a week if necessary.

Arsenal have recently renewed their sponsorship with airlines Emirates in a 150 million pound deal and are reported to be set to sign a new kit supply agreement with German sportswear company Puma.

They have trimmed their wage bill by allowing Russian forward Andrei Arshavin, Brazilian midfielder Denilson and French defender Sebastien Squillaci to leave the club.

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