By Camilla Hallam
It has been a somewhat surreal feeling in North London these past few weeks since the announcement of Arsene Wenger’s departure from the Gunners. The suave, sophisticated Frenchman has been something of an institution at Arsenal and helped bring the club into the 21st century both on and off the pitch. Wenger himself admitted after his final league game in charge that it will be a huge wrench to leave the club after committing much of his professional life to the team. At the age of 68, many would suggest it might be time for Wenger to put his feet up and enjoy his retirement. However, that doesn’t appear to be the case in Wenger’s mind, who insists he is still keen to remain in management.
Perhaps reassuringly, Wenger has admitted that he is unlikely to take on “another crazy challenge,” suggesting a big rebuilding job at a new club is nearly off the table. Wenger was one of several prospective candidates mooted to replace Zinedine Zidane at Spanish giants Real Madrid however it seems Real have now appointed Julen Lopetegui who was immediately dismissed as the Spain manager for the world cup.
It has also been reported that Wenger rejected the idea of replacing his replacement, Unai Emery, in the Paris Saint-Germain hot seat. The proud Frenchman may well have one eye on the France national team job, depending on how well his countrymen fare in the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia. Although we’re not clever enough to predict every outcome of the tournament to win the much-talked-about 100 Million Challenge, it’s hard to see France failing to reach the latter stages of the tournament based on the strength in depth of their squad.
Given Wenger’s association with Arsenal, it is highly unlikely that he would consider a managerial role elsewhere in the Premier League. In any case, there aren’t any vacancies expected to arise within top-six clubs this summer. If Wenger decides he does want one final challenge before grabbing the pipe and slippers, the Real job could tick all the right boxes. In many ways, Wenger has always been more suited to club management than international management. He thrives on the day-to-day rhythm of management and working with players. He’s one of the game’s great thinkers and the ability to work with a squad that’s as easy on the eye as the Arsenal XI would be an idealistic option for Wenger.
It would also be interesting to see how Wenger works with a certain Portuguese forward that Wenger tried — and failed — to lure to Arsenal years ago. Furthermore, Wenger would have a realistic shot at getting his hands on the one piece of silverware that has eluded him in his managerial career, the Champions League. Adding a Champions League trophy to his CV would be the cherry on top of a magnifique career.
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