As things stand, Arsene Wenger will be free to walk away from his position at Arsenal come the end of the season. With The Gunners flying high at the top of the Premier League, the Arsenal board are understandably keen to avoid that happening.
According to John Cross of the Mirror, the club are hopeful that Wenger, having guided his team through to the knockout stages of the Champions League, could now be ready to put pen to paper:
Arsenal will step up their attempts to get Arsene Wenger to sign a new three-year contract after their progression in the Champions League.
Negotiations have been going on since the summer and Mirror Sport revealed in October that a £24million offer is on the table.
But the Gunners' boss insisted he wanted to delay signing until after they had reached the Champions League's last 16.
Wenger is well-known for his tendency to allow his contract at Arsenal to run into its final year. However, even by his own relaxed standards, he is leaving it particularly late to sign.
His previous deal was inked in August of 2010. Prior to that, he signed a three-year contract in September 2007. Wenger usually has the paperwork signed and sealed before the end of November. The latest he has ever left it was in 2001, when the new deal was officially announced on 6 December.
Publicly, Wenger is calm about the situation. When asked by Press Association Sport whether the negotiations would be finished by Christmas, Wenger said the following, via Jim Van Wijk of The Independent:
I said many times, that people don't need to question my commitment to this club.
I can just reiterate what I said at the start of the season - I want to feel that I do well, and focus on that.
I am relaxed about the situation. What is important is that the players have the support, to focus on the target which is to do well in every single game.
It seems to be that “focus” that is delaying Wenger’s extension.
With Arsenal doing well on both the domestic and European fronts, the announcement of a new contract could prove an unnecessary distraction. It's telling that the last time he delayed signing a deal this long, back in 2001, Arsenal were also in the midst of a title challenge.
Arsenal are functioning superbly at the moment, and Wenger is understandably wary of doing anything that might upset their serene applecart.
Perhaps Wenger’s players are even given an extra ounce of motivation by the prospect that this could be his last season at the helm.
Wenger’s position at Arsenal is suitably secure that he can afford to wait. The board are unlikely to renege on their desire to renew his contract.
Perhaps the announcement of a new deal could even be used as a timely fillip for the Arsenal squad as the title race approaches its climax.
The only worry for Arsenal fans will be that Wenger might be considering whether he wants to continue at all. Another Arsenal collapse could see an exhausted Wenger throw in the towel. Alternatively, he might view a potential title win as the perfect way to go out.
However, the signs are that Wenger wants to continue. The fire has returned to his belly. A new contract is surely on the way. The only question is when.
James McNicholas is Bleacher Report's lead Arsenal correspondent and will be following the club from a London base throughout the 2013/14 season. Follow him on Twitter here.