It seems that Real Madrid may be close to signing another big name to add to its stable of superstars, as some media outlets are reporting that a deal to land Karim Benzema has been agreed to by Madrid and the striker’s current club, Olympique Lyonnais.
Once the deal is finalized, Benzema will join Kaka — introduced last night in front of a huge crowd at the Bernabeu — and Cristiano Ronaldo as the newest of “galacticos” at Madrid, and mean that Florentino Perez’ new reign as club president has begun with close to £200 million splashed out for summer signings.
But one target of Perez not heading to Madrid this off-season is Arsene Wenger, who has snubbed the superclub’s advances and will remain as manager at Arsenal for the foreseeable future.
Supposedly offered a £6million annual salary in addition to a seemingly limitless transfer war chest at Madrid, Wenger has revealed his reasons for rejecting the offer in articles published Wednesday in both The Telegraph and the Daily Mail.
Explaining one of the main reasons for his decision was that he simply does not agree with the Perez philosophy, Wenger said: “What Real want to do is produce what I would call a spectacle of football, a spectacular team.
“But I believe that when it comes to creating a team and a squad there is another dimension that exists, and that is my way of thinking,” continued the Arsenal manager. “I want to have success by building a team with a style, with a know-how, with a culture of play specific to the club and its fans and with young people.”
According to the Daily Mail’s Martin Lipton, Wenger came out of a long meeting with Arsenal chief executive Ivan Gazidis convinced that he should continue at Arsenal, receiving some reassurance of support from the club’s board regarding “his ideas of building a young squad and turning them into genuine challengers both domestically and in Europe, rather than simply trying to buy success.”
The Frenchman added that, “I am in a construction project with a young team, but my intention is to take that project to the ultimate end. For me, pleasure comes from watching those players showing the football I like to see played.”
Believing that the transfer amounts relating to Real Madrid “can appear shocking,” Wenger says, “it is necessary to disregard moral judgement and to simply ask whether the operation will be profitable. In my opinion, to recruit more than three players in a transfer window, as Real plan, is taking a technical risk.”
The Arsenal manager has added Thomas Vermaelen to his squad this summer but has stated his focus is on retaining the services of his current players, as a number of Gunner first-teamers have been lured by other clubs this off-season.
Captain Cesc Fabregas, linked with possible moves to Madrid and Barcelona, has made a number of statements committing himself to the Arsenal cause. Theo Walcott has signed a contract extension to remain at the Emirates, and Robin van Persie is reportedly close to his own renewed deal after publicly stating his preference to also stay as a Gunner.
One Gunner who some thought would be headed out this summer has even revealed his loyalty to remain with Wenger, as defender William has told Sky Sports on Tuesday that he has no intention of leaving Arsenal this off-season.
Replaced as Gunners captain after a difficult period early in the season and a rumored bust-up with defensive partner Kolo Toure, Gallas responded with strong and consistent performances during the second half of the campaign.
“I am at Arsenal, my contract is still valid for a year, so I am an Arsenal player,” said Gallas. “We have not talked about renewing the contract, but I am relaxed and looking forward to next season with Arsenal.”
A younger Gunner can also look forward to more seasons with Arsenal, as midfielder Aaron Ramsey has signed a new long-term contract extension with the club, according to a statement on Arsenal’s official web site.
The 18-year-old Welsh international joined the Gunners from Cardiff City last summer, making 22 appearances in all competitions during the campaign. Ramsey’s appearances included nine in the Premier League and six in the UEFA Champions League, where he scored his first Arsenal goal in a 5-2 victory at Fenerbahce in October.
In the announcement, manager Wenger said: “We’re delighted that Aaron has signed a new long term contract. He made a very good contribution in his first season and he showed that he is a very intelligent player with great quality.
“He is still only 18 and we’re really looking forward to seeing him develop with us in the forthcoming years,” added Wenger, who believes that his team — like Ramsey — will continue to grow and build on this past season, which saw Arsenal advance to two semifinals in both domestic and European Cup competitions.
“We just missed that final step, but I believe the team are getting that now as it becomes more mature,” Wenger told The Telegraph last week. “The team has matured tactically a lot over the season, and they are ready to challenge on all fronts next season.”