From the moment Arsene Wenger put his signature on a new contract with Arsenal, we knew there'd be debate and discussion about the choice of continuing with the French manager. But, at the same time, I can tell you nothing will be as before at Arsenal...
At the age of almost 68, Wenger has been on the Gunners bench since 1996, when he came to North London from Nagoya, Japan. He has managed Arsenal for 21 seasons, with the cherry on the cake the last FA Cup won on May 27 against Chelsea at Wembley.
This victory could have been the right ending of a story between he and Arsenal; instead it has been the sparkle that has convinced the ownership of the club to bet again on their ruler. The management and the supporters were afraid that Wenger could have lost his motivation, after so many years with the same club and after the shock of failing to qualify for the next Champions League.
BIG CHANGES WILL HAPPEN
Those who write that "Arsene Wenger signs new Arsenal contract, but will anything change?" have not understood the situation.
If Wenger has accepted to get involved again with Arsenal it's because he is sure that he can do well, better than the season just ended: people don't remember the past, supporters think about the present and the future and his reputation, the good things he has done along the years at Arsenal could vanish from their sight if he produces a bad season.
He knows this attitude, he knows how football works: he put on the gambling table his career and his reputation when he signed that two-year contract.
SHOPPING IN FRANCE
"We can move up to the next level", Wenger says. This will be a new Arsenal, an Arsenal in which the hand of the French manager will be more evident. Arsene has more than £150 million to spend in this summer's transfer window: my insiders revealed to me that a lot of changes are expected by the board.
The trip made by Ivan Gazidis and Wenger to Nice shows clearly their new ambitions: Kylian Mbappé of Monaco and Nice's Jean Seri were the targets they went to talk about. Other names on Wenger's list are the same old Alexandre Lacazette (Lyon), the midfielder Thomas Lemar from Monaco and Emil Forsberg from RB Leipzig.
But many of the developments of the club's strategies will depend on the future of Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez. Today Wenger has been direct about the Chilean: he wants him to stay at Arsenal.
Mbappé could decide, together with the club owners, to stay at Monaco another season. There have been some enquiries for the goalkeeper Bernd Leno from Bayer Leverkusen and for Hakan Calhanoglu, a player that they've been looking at for many months.
On the other side, many players will be sold.
Jack Wilshere, Kieran Gibbs, Nacho Monreal, Francis Coquelin, Carl Jenkinson, David Ospina, Wojciech Szczesny, Lucas Perez and Olivier Giroud could all leave the Gunners. So there will be a big revolution.
Lyon contacted Arsenal about Coquelin last week: it was just an enquiry, but there may be a bid coming.
Alex Oxlade Chamberlain verbally agreed a £100k per week deal today. Some details on length and bonuses have to be arranged, but it should be announced this week.