In a week’s time, the Premier League will have an Arsene Wenger-shaped hole in its life. The Arsenal manager has been asked to stand down after 22 years in charge of the Gunners, winning three Premier League titles and seven FA Cups.
At the age of 68 and after such a long spell in charge, the longest in Premier League history, you would forgive Wenger for walking away from management, but the Frenchman is keen to continue his career:
“What is for sure, I will be active. My brain demands work and is active. I have a huge experience of management and subtilty in people management. So overall, I will work. What I will do, I don’t know yet.”
So, what’s next for Wenger? RealSport looks where Arsene Wenger, the only manager to lead a team through a season unbeaten, could end up.
A World Cup takes place this summer, and you can imagine that a whole host of international vacancies will become available. Wenger has expressed interest of managing the England national team one day, but The FA at the start of a long-term project with Gareth Southgate.
A move to his home nation of France seems much more likely. Current French boss Didier Deschamps has been in charge of Les Bleus for six years, and it would make sense for him to move back into club management. His talented side narrowly missed out on European Championship glory in 2016, and whether Deschamps could put himself through another four-year World Cup cycle is in doubt.
Wenger doesn’t have plenty of time left in his career, but four years with France makes perfect sense. The 68-year-old would have to deal with the day-to-day stresses of club management and give him plenty of time to scout and nurture young talent.
Arsene Wenger led Monaco to Ligue 1 and Coupe De France success before moving to Arsenal, so a move back could be on the cards. This would hang on the future of current manager Leonardo Jardim, who has been in charge for four years now. Jardim could search a new challenge, especially after winning the league title last season and losing a bunch of talent in the transfer window.
Wenger may not be a long-term solution, but if they are looking for stability for a couple of seasons and aiming to maintain their Champions League position, he would be a safe choice.
Somehow, staying in the Premier League doesn’t seem likely for Wenger, but if a club were to move to him, it would probably be Everton. The Toffees have had a tempestuous season, and although Sam Allardyce guided the club away from the relegation zone, there have been serious question marks over their style of play.
Allardyce’s future is in question as a result, and if you want attractive football, Wenger is your man. Some recruitment may be needed to improve the squad’s overall quality on the ball, but a reunion with Theo Walcott would be a selling point for the current Arsenal manager.
Silverware is missing at Goodison Park, and they love to give youth a chance, something that Wenger could deliver given his record in the FA Cup and developing younger players. He would want to still manage a club in European contention, but Everton still hold great pedigree having never been relegated from the Premier League.
Paris Saint-Germain have already shown manager Unai Emery the door, despite winning four domestic trophies this season. The PSG board crave European success, and although this is an area where Arsene Wenger has struggled, few available managers can boast a Champions League title.
The front runner is former Borussia Dortmund manager Thomas Tuchel, who only has one German Cup to shout about, making Wenger a much more decorative choice. The Ligue 1 title is almost a given due to PSG’s stacked squad and transfer budget, so you can see why the job would be appealing to Wenger, who hasn’t tasted league success in 14 years.
Recruitment hasn’t been Wenger’s strongpoint however, for he can say he brought in Patrick Vieira, Thierry Henry, Dennis Bergkamp and Robin Van Persie, but ever since there has been a struggle for consistent success from new signings at the Emirates.
Wenger does have the option of hanging up his manager’s tie at the end of the season, and with no obvious destination at the minute, you could see it happening. Whether he leaves football completely does seem unlikely.
According to former Arsenal assistant manager Pat Rice, seven-time FA Cup winner Wenger has a great reputation with both FIFA and UEFA, and a move into the more business side of football could be a possibility.
Sir Alex Ferguson was appointed as UEFA’s coaching ambassador in 2014 following his retirement, and you could certainly imagine Wenger holding a similar position.
Wherever Wenger goes, or whatever he chooses to do he should be remembered for his fantastic successes, not the farcical moments that were often seen during the second half of his tenure. He is one of the greatest managers to grace the Premier League, and English football will be worse off without him.