Arsene Wenger chose his 60th birthday to declare that the rip-roaring Gunners will win a trophy this season, claims the Daily Mail.
Playing catch-up with our own Vic Crescit’s brilliant report from yesterday’s AGM, this morning’s paper says Wenger retains the total faith of the board and fans for his glittering achievements during more than 13 years as the club’s longest-serving manager and the way his teams play – despite it being four years since Arsenal won any silverware.
He said: ‘When I say that, it is not to please you, it is because I am really convinced of it. I believe that and the fans know we will go for it.
‘We are only in October and I know it will be very tight. It will come down to how resilient, consistent, intelligent and united we are until the end of the season. There will be periods when it will be difficult, but we have to show the strengths that have always made this club special.
‘We have developed the team over the last five years with a tremendous amount of training. It is easier to do that if the majority of players have grown up inside the club from 16 or even younger. They learn to love the club and what it represents.
‘And this season we are ready to go for it in the Premier League, the Champions League and the cups.’ Wenger refused to say whether the domestic league or conquering Europe was his priority, answering: ‘I want to win both.’
Still in the Mail, Charlie Sale’s column suggests a new cold war between Russian Alisher Usmanov and American Stan Kroenke is set to break out over the ownership of Arsenal, with both billionaires in the market for more shares.
Arsenal board member Kroenke would make no comment at the AGM about his full ownership ambitions but chairman Peter Hill-Wood gave the game away when he explained the American’s silence owes to the sensitivities of the regulatory Takeover Panel. Read more here.
Meanwhile, the Sun says AW is eyeing £20million-rated Inter Milan star Mario Balotelli.
The paper says Arsenal scouts watched the Italy hitman in Inter’s 5-0 win at Genoa last weekend, while Gunners boss Wenger is also keen on Ajax’s Gregory van der Wiel for £8m.
Balotelli, 19, is highly regarded by Inter boss Jose Mourinho but is behind Gabriel Milito, Samuel Eto’o and David Suazo in the San Siro pecking order.
Elsewhere, the Mirror reports that AW has made Belgian wonderkid Eden Hazard his number one transfer target.
The boss is said to be is sending scouts to watch 18-year-old Hazard in virtually every game that he plays for French club Lille.
Belgian international Hazard, who has already won six full caps, fits the Wenger mould perfectly as he is young, very skilful and is not yet an established star.
Hazard plays as an attacking midfielder and can also operate wide and it is understood Wenger is desperate to sign him as quickly as possible.