ARSENE Wenger believes Hector Bellerin’s new deal shows Arsenal now have the financial muscle to match Manchester City.
And the manager hopes the Gunners’ cash reserves mean they can tie up the futures of Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez and keep the duo at the Emirates Stadium.
Bellerin, 21, put pen to paper on a new, six-year deal despite strong interest from City and Barcelona.
Wenger has been forced to stand by and watch as a steady stream of his players were lured to the Etihad Stadium in recent years, including Gael Clichy, Bacary Sagna, Samir Nasri, Emmanuel Adebayor and Kolo Toure.
But the manager is convinced Bellerin’s decision to stay shows Arsenal can now compete on an equal footing.
And with City eyeing Sanchez, as the Chile striker seeks to negotiate a mega-money new deal worth around £250,000 per week to stay put, the Gunners boss hopes he can continue to fend off the loaded north west club.
Wenger said: “We can keep our players. We are financially much more competitive than we were before.
“We were always competitive but we had to sell our players, that is the big difference. Today we can make the decision.
“Today I feel we can give financial satisfaction and support ambitions and values that can make the players happy at this club.
“Before, perhaps the financial gap was too big a difference to keep our players – we could not compete, we had to sell players.
“Bellerin signing is what has changed. It is no secret in football that if you want to achieve on the pitch you need good players. There is no magician.”
Ozil and Sanchez are both entering the final 18 months of their current contracts while the futures of Olivier Giroud and Francis Coquelin have also to be resolved.
Sanchez said: “It depends on Arsenal. It doesn’t depend on me – if they want to show confidence in me.
“I’m very happy at the club. I love all the staff. I’m very grateful for everybody here.”
Wenger, whose own deal expires at the end of this season, admits this is a crucial moment for the future of the club.
He added: “Yes it is an important season. No matter what happens we have to make sure the club is progressing.
“We have good young players, a good maturity in the team. Looking at the future, it should be a bright future for the club.”