Wenger wants Dein back at Arsenal as crunch contract talks set to commence

The Gunners boss has indicated he wants to open discussions on an extension but is keen for the club’s former director to work with him on signing new players this summer

EXCLUSIVE
By Wayne Veysey | Chief Correspondent

Arsene Wenger wants to bring David Dein back to Arsenal as he prepares to open preliminary contract talks with the club, Goal.com can reveal.

Arsenal still retain complete faith in Wenger and are willing to offer him an extension to his current deal that could extend his reign to the 20-year mark.

The Frenchman has indicated that he is keen to stay at Emirates Stadium but has told the club of his desire to be re-united with close friend and former ally Dein so they can work together on signing new players this summer.

The former Arsenal vice-chairman was ousted from the board in April 2007 for acting unilaterally in trying to attract new investment to the club but he retains a deep affinity for the club, watches home matches from his own box at Emirates Stadium and is still very close to Wenger.

A series of boardroom obstacles would need to be overcome for Dein to return but the 69-year-old has never criticised the club publically since his acrimonious departure and is still held in high esteem by supporters for his role in the 1998-2005 trophy-laden years.

Goal.com understands that Wenger is prepared to push strongly for Dein to take charge of negotiating player transfers this summer as Arsenal prepare to make use of what is expected to be the biggest kitty in the club’s history.

The Arsenal board remain committed to Wenger despite a sizeable portion of fans calling for him to resign after they were dumped out of the FA Cup by Blackburn Rovers at the weekend as his 16-and-a-half year tenure plumbed new depths.

As revealed by Goal.com in December, Wenger had rebuffed an informal approach from the club to arrange a time to open discussions over a new deal, insisting that he would assess his future at the end of the season.

The 63-year-old’s contract expires in June 2014 and there had been a growing sense within the club that he would not sign another deal, and could even leave this summer if Arsenal fail to attain a Champions League place.

However, the Arsenal board, led by majority owner Stan Kroenke and chief executive Ivan Gazidis, do not want to lose Wenger and the club have approached him once again in recent weeks about extending his reign.

In turn, the Frenchman has indicated that he is ready to sit down and hold formal talks with the club about a new deal.

Wenger’s public stance is that he always honours his contracts and that no firm decision has been taken over his future beyond 2014.

Nevertheless, there is a growing possibility that he could put pen to paper on a new contract before the start of next season to end speculation about the direction in which the club are heading.

The boardroom impetus comes at a time when Wenger’s stock among a large section of the Arsenal support is perhaps at the lowest ebb of his long reign.

The club have been knocked out of the two domestic competitions by lower-league opposition this season and lie fifth in the Premier League table, four points behind fourth-placed Tottenham.

However, senior Arsenal officials want Wenger to stay and develop a team around a British core of Jack Wilshere, Theo Walcott, Aaron Ramsey and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain supplemented by proven foreign stars in the mould of last summer’s key signings Santi Cazorla and Lukas Podolski.

The new financial fair play rules have already squeezed the spending of Manchester City and Chelsea, and Arsenal believe the Frenchman can take advantage of this to build a squad genuinely capable of challenging for trophies.

Although Arsenal’s sole remaining hope of ending a trophy-less run that dates back to 2005 lies in winning the Champions League, the board remain convinced in the abilities of Wenger and put far greater store in his record of top-four finishes and success in navigating the group stages of the Europe’s flagship competition year after year.

The club’s longest-serving manager is also appreciated by the board for maintaining the club’s elite status either side of the move from Highbury while having a transfer budget that was dwarfed by the club’s rivals.

The north Londoners’ high command are also convinced that new commercial deals, such as the recently-announced £150million Emirates contract that comes into effect from 2014, leave Arsenal even better positioned in the medium and long term than they are now.

Bayern have no plans to sign for Lewandowski – Rummenigge

The Bavarians’ CEO has moved to deny reports that his side are close to signing the Borussia Dortmund striker, much to the relief of BVB chief Hans-Joachim Watzke

Bayern Munich CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge has moved to deny reports that his side are close to securing the services of Borussia Dortmund star Robert Lewandowski.

The Polish striker’s current deal at Signal Iduna Park expires in June 2014, and he has been widely linked with a move to the Allianz Arena, or to Manchester United.

“I’m totally relaxed about the Lewandowski rumours,” he told Bild.

“Bayern are not planning to hold negotiations with Borussia Dortmund over the transfer of Lewandowski.”

Upon hearing what the former West Germany international had said, BVB chief Hans-Joachim Watzke admitted that he was relieved.

“It’s great,” he noted. “We also don’t want to hear nothing from Bayern.”

The German champions’ sporting director Michel Zorc admitted on Saturday that he was unsure whether the 24-year-old would elect to sign a new deal.

Mihajlovic: 'Suffering' Jovetic will leave at the end of the season

The former Lazio defender feels the Serbia starlet will move on this summer if he is not made to feel important enough at Stadio Artemio Franchi

Fiorentina attacker Stevan Jovetic is “suffering” and could leave the club at the end of the season, according to Serbia coach Sinisa Mihajlovic.

Jovetic has been linked with the likes of Manchester City and Juventus throughout the current campaign, and the increasing speculation over his future has come as he suffers a dip in form.

Former defender Mihajlovic, who was sacked as la Viola coach last season, believes the 23-year-old may need to change clubs in order to return to the top of his game.

“I consider Jovetic to be one of the best players in Serie A, but right now he is not playing at his level,” he told La Gazzetta dello Sport. “I am no longer in Florence, so I cannot say for sure what the problem is. It’s evident he is suffering because of something and if things don’t change I think he’ll leave at the end of the season.

“Jovetic is a sensitive guy and it’s fundamental you know how to deal with him. As with all great champions, he needs to feel important. It means giving him responsibility, but also communicating [to him] that he is one of the best.

“Maybe the problem is that he doesn’t feel as highly considered as he’d like.”

Fiorentina take on Inter at Stadio Artemio Franchi on Sunday, and Mihajlovic is delighted at the prospect of seeing fellow Slavic players Mateo Kovacic, Adem Ljajic and Zdravko Kuzmanovic take to the field.

“I am pleased to see so many Slavic players in two of the best Serie A teams, regardless of whether they are Serb, Croat, Slovenian or Montenegrin,” he continued.

“When I arrived in Italy there were many of us, then we rather lost our way, but I am glad to see we are back in fashion. After all, these countries have always had many football talents.

“I saw Kovacic play against Cluj and was impressed. He has great character, is a battler with good technique and excellent vision. I understand why Inter paid over €10 million for him, even though he is only 18.”

Rodgers expects bids for Suarez and Co

The Uruguay international has scored 22 goals already this season and his manager expects his outstanding form to trigger a summer of transfer speculation

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers admits the form of Luis Suarez is likely to lead to a lengthy summer transfer saga.

The Uruguay international’s future is already the subject of intense speculation as a result of the controversial striker’s scintillating form for his club this season.

With Liverpool ninth and 12 points off a Champions League qualification berth, rumours have intensified in recent weeks, particularly given their 2-0 loss against Zenit St Petersburg in the first leg of a Europa League tie on Thursday.

Rodgers acknowledges that holding on to their ‘outstanding’ players is a priority as the end of the season rapidly approaches, but maintains Suarez is content on Merseyside despite the prospect of silverware being only a remote possibility.

“Even clubs that have won the league are faced with having to keep hold of their players. So there’s always going to be ­speculation about players here and we expect that to happen again,” he told the Daily Mirror.

“I am a realist. We’ve got some outstanding players here who other clubs will show interest in. But I can only speak from my experience of working with the players here and I think they are all happy.”

The 40-year-old manager has also spoken of his desire to strengthen the squad in the forthcoming transfer window, as he cites its current lack of depth as the reason for Liverpool’s failure to compete for a Champions League spot.

“I talk to the owners on a weekly basis, we all know what improvements have to be made. The size of our squad has been a problem for us this season because we’ve had to compete on four fronts,” he continued.

“I believe we are making progress, even though I know I was always going to be judged on whether we finish in the top four. That now looks unlikely, but I have got to be realistic. With the group of players we had at the start of the season, qualifying for the ­Champions League was always going to be difficult.”

Manchester United step up Begovic chase

Sir Alex Ferguson is prepared to listen to offers for Anders Lindegaard after David De Gea’s improved displays prompted an Old Trafford re-think

By Wayne Veysey | Chief Correspondent

Manchester United are preparing to sell Anders Lindegaard in the summer as they make room for the arrival of top goalkeeper target Asmir Begovic, Goal.com understands.

United have been closely monitoring the Stoke No.1 since last summer due to doubts over Lindegaard and David De Gea.

The Spaniard has been short-listed by Barcelona as a replacement for Victor Valdes, who is set to leave Camp Nou in the summer following a breakdown in contract talks with the runaway La Liga leaders.

Goal.com understands that United could have been tempted into off-loading De Gea if they recouped the €21 million fee they paid to Atletico Madrid in the summer of 2011.

But De Gea’s improved displays either side of the new year, most notably in the 1-1 draw against Real Madrid last Wednesday, has prompted a major re-think at Old Trafford.

Lindegaard and De Gea were rotated in goal by Ferguson earlier in the season but the Dane has slipped down the pecking order and has made only one appearance in the FA Cup since conceding three goals at Reading on December 1.

The likelihood is that Lindegaard, who arrived at Old Trafford for €4m in January 2011, is likely to be moved on in the summer.

As revealed by Goal.com, Arsenal have also shown a strong interest in Begovic and had an enquiry rebuffed by Stoke on deadline day.

The Bosnian acknowledges that Stoke’s capture of Jack Butland from Birmingham City last month will prompt his departure from the Britannia Stadium at the end of the season.

“I believe that Stoke didn’t buy Butland to be a reserve so I think I’m going to be sold in the summer,” Begovic told Oslobodjenje earlier this month.

“I read in the papers that I said no to City and yes to United. But the truth is, I haven’t decided on anything.

“I didn’t say yes or no to anybody. I haven’t signed anything – no contract, no pre-contract. But I think I’m going to be sold in the summer.

“To whom? I can’t move to a smaller club and I also know that some top clubs are interested in me. They are also the only ones who can afford the fee.”

England reserve keeper Butland will link up with Stoke in the summer after he was loaned back to Birmingham for the rest of the season.

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