Interview

‘They understand our values’

In a unique move, we combined contract signings for the managers of both the men’s and women’s teams on the same day, and chief executive officer Vinai Venkatesham believes it was an important moment for the club.

Mikel Arteta, who took over as manager in late 2019, has signed a new deal taking him to 2024/25.

Meanwhile Jonas Eidevall, who is coming to the end of his first season in charge, has committed his future until the end of the 2023/24 campaign.

Speaking after both men signed the deals, Vinai explained the thinking behind the club’s decision to extend their stays.

Here’s what he said...

On the double contract announcement…
Well, today is a really important day for the club and for our fans, we have Mikel and Jonas recommitting to Arsenal. Two men that have done so much for us over the last few years, so we're delighted to be making this announcement today. Both our men's and our women's teams have taken a step forward this season, of course, supported by the major investments that we made on the men's and women's side this summer, supported and sanctioned by our ownership, but also the fabulous support that we've enjoyed home and away this season. And with Jonas with the women's team heading into the final weekend of the season, already qualified for the Champions League and absolutely fighting to win the WSL. On the men's side with Mikel, we've got a few more weeks left to go but we have already qualified for Europe next season and are right in the mix and right in that fight for the top four places to get back into the Champions League. But of course at Arsenal, it's not just what you do, it's also how you do it. With Mikel and Jonas, we've got two individuals that want to play the style of football that Arsenal fans want to see, two individuals that aren't afraid to give young players a chance, but also two people that really understand this club, they understand the histories, the values, the traditions, understand what it means to be in those chairs at Arsenal Football Club and represent us as ambassadors the right way on the pitch and also off the pitch.

On the process behind the decisions…
Well, ultimately, why are we here? The ambition of the club is to compete for the biggest trophies in the game. In England and in Europe, both on the men's side and the women's side, that's where we want to get to. And this season, we feel like we've made positive progress against the ultimate ambition. Are we there yet? Absolutely not. Is there more work to do? For sure. And is it going to be hard work? Absolutely. But that's where we're trying to go. And that's where we're trying to get to. And all of the key stakeholders here led by the board and our owners are convinced that, in Mikel and Jonas, we've got the two individuals that can help us achieve that ambition. I guess a fair question would be why now? And why are we announcing this today? Well, for us, we want to go into the summer with certainty and clarity for everybody. For our players, for the types of players we might want to attract, for our staff and our fans that they know that Mikel and Jonas are committed to us for the long term as we continue on that journey to fulfil that ambition.

On similarities between Jonas and Mikel…
Yeah, I do see similarities between them both. They're both incredibly hard working. They both give it absolutely everything, every single day and I see that focus and that diligence from them. They're both dynamic. They both work well with people around the club. So I see lots of similarities between them.

On the scale of work Mikel as achieved…
Absolutely. Even in the two and a half years Mikel and his staff have had a lot of things to deal with. Just three or three and a half months into Mikel's time back here as our head coach at the time he had Covid to deal with. Suddenly, football stopped, then the challenges around how do we train our players with all the restrictions that were in, then finally back to playing football, but then without the critical ingredient, no fans in the stadium to cheer us on. All these types of challenges. And then of course, more recently the significant reshaping of the squad that we have done over the summer. You've seen Mikel this season, not afraid to play young players and give them their chances. So there has been a lot to deal with and Mikel has dealt with all of those things, hugely positively with that boundless enthusiasm to drive us and to drive us forward.

On Jonas’s first year in England…
Well, you're right, Jonas has just been here a year, for pretty much the season. I think he's settled into the WSL brilliantly, as I said earlier, we're qualified for the women's Champions League and right in that race and that fight this coming weekend to try and win the WSL. It's such an exciting time for women's football. We're seeing the growth in terms of attendances, in terms of commercial interest, in terms of the great broadcast coverage, a great broadcast viewing numbers that are coming in the women's game. The game is really, really growing. Arsenal has always been at the forefront with the women's game and we'd want that to continue. And we know that can continue under Jonas and all of the investments that we are making, have made, and will continue to make in women's football

On the club’s aims now…
Well, the ambition of this football club is simple and it comes from the owners down. This football club needs to be competing for the biggest trophies in the game, in Europe and in England on the men's side and on the women's side. That's where we want to get to, we know we're not there yet, but we're moving towards that goal. I'm hoping everyone can see the progress that we're starting to make against that goal. Today's a really, really important day because Mikel and Jonas are recommitting here to us, to Arsenal, to the project and to the journey. There's a long way to go and a lot of hard work ahead, but with Mikel and Jonas, we're convinced we have the right people surrounded by the teams around them that can help us get there.

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