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Arsenal say manager Wenger to stay at club

Arsenal's manager Arsene Wenger reacts during their English Premier League soccer match against Manchester United at the Emirates Stadium in
Arsenal's manager Arsene Wenger reacts during their English Premier League soccer match against Manchester United at the Emirates Stadium in

By Keith Weir

LONDON (Reuters) - Manager Arsene Wenger is set to sign a new contract to extend his 18-year stay with the English Premier League leaders, the club's chief executive said on Monday.

Wenger will have more money to spend on players this summer after the club signed a new kit supply deal with German company Puma that begins on July 1.

Chief Executive Ivan Gazidis gave the clearest indication yet that Frenchman Wenger would remain at Arsenal, indicating that finalizing a new contract was just a matter of time.

"We've always supported Arsene, the board has always been completely behind him as has (owner) Stan Kroenke," Gazidis told a news conference when asked about the future of the manager whose contract runs out at the end of the season.

"We are comfortable in the position, relaxed about it. As I've said before, Arsene will be extending with us and at the right time we'll make that announcement," he added.

Wenger has been Arsenal manager since 1996 and has led the club to three Premier League titles and four FA Cups.

However, the trophies have dried up since 2005 although Arsenal have continued to qualify for the Champions League.

The Puma deal, worth around 30 million pounds a season, will help Arsenal to compete with the top clubs in Europe in the transfer market.

"One of our long-term goals has to been to increase our commercial revenues and there is a football reason for that, it's to be able to invest that in our squad," Gazidis said.

"So this is a very important step in terms of our progression on the pitch and as we look from this summer onwards, that money will be available to the manager," he added.

Puma has ousted Nike as the kit supplier to Arsenal in a deal that starts on July 1.

Helped by an enhanced sponsorship deal with airline Emirates, the north London club spent a club record 42.5 million pounds on German Mesut Ozil at the start of this season.

($1 = 0.6060 British pounds)

(Writing by Keith Weir; editing by Justin Palmer)

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