EXCLUSIVE: Wenger plans mass clearout to fund spending spree
21:30 GMT, 27 March 2012
Arsenal want to clear out fringe players currently costing the club 23million a year in wages as Arsene Wenger prepares for a summer spending splurge.
Wenger wants to add at least two big-name signings to his squad and reward a clutch of players – chiefly Robin van Persie – with improved contracts.
Key man: Arsenal are prepared to break the bank to keep Van Persie
The Gunners will embark on a summer cull designed to give Wenger as much leeway as possible with regards to offering competitive salaries.
And some of the club's biggest earners will be put up for sale as Arsenal look to utilise their wage budget more effectively.
Andrey Arshavin, who earns 75,000 per week, Marouane Chamakh, who gets 60,000 per week, and Sebastien Squillaci, Nicklas Bendtner, Denilson and Carlos Vela, who are paid 50,000 per week, can all leave.
Exit: Chamakh is one of the big earners set to leave in the summer
Goalkeeper Manuel Almunia, who is on 60,000 per week, will definitely go in the summer when his deal expires.
Recent club accounts have shown the wage bill has increased by 20m – despite the sales of Cesc Fabregas, Samir Nasri and Gael Clichy.
And freeing up the budget for wages is a top priority this summer, though the club may encounter difficulties in shifting the aforementioned players, given their hefty salaries.
Getting talisman Van Persie to sign a new long-term deal is top of the club's summer to-do list, with Arsenal willing to burst through their wage ceiling to offer the striker 120,000 per week.
End of the road: Arshavin, on loan at Zenit, has one year to run on his Arsenal deal
And Sportsmail can reveal Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is also in line for a new and improved contract, despite only joining from Southampton last summer.
Oxlade-Chamberlain, 18, earns in the region of 20,000 per week but Arsenal will look to reward him with a pay rise this summer following his promising first season.
New deal: Wenger is keen to reward Oxlade-Chamberlain
Sportsmail revealed on Tuesday that influential midfielder Alex Song is also in line for a pay hike that would take his earnings to around 75,000 per week, while talks over a new deal for England forward Theo Walcott are ongoing, despite uncertainty over his future.
In addition to tying down the club's existing stars, Wenger is eager to add new faces as he plots a title tilt next season.
Lille forward Eden Hazard, Rennes midfielder Yann M'Vila and Borussia Dortmund starlet Mario Gotze – who extended his contract to 2016 yesterday – are all targets.
Chelsea forward Daniel Sturridge and Blackburn midfielder Steven Nzonzi have also been mentioned by Wenger.
Trimming the club's wage bill will give Arsenal the best chance possible to put together competitive pay-packages and lure their top targets.