Plaudits for longest-serving Gunners boss Wenger

FORMER Arsenal chief executive David Dein, director Ken Friar, legendary Gunners striker Thierry Henry and Hull manager Phil Brown were among those to pay tribute to Arsene Wenger yesterday.

The Frenchman, who has managed Arsenal since 1996, became Arsenal’s longest-serving manager yesterday when he surpassed George Allison’s 4,748-day record set 60 years ago.

Dein, who played a central role in Wenger’s appointment, yesterday paid tribute to the man who has lead Arsenal to three league and four FA Cup triumphs during his hugely successful spell in north London.

Dein said: “His legacy will be that he has transformed Arsenal.

“He has taken it to a completely new level but the style of football has been so entertaining.’’

Long-serving Arsenal director Ken Friar suggested Wenger has a job for life at the club.

“We will all be very, very sad when the day comes when Arsene decides he’s had enough,” he said.

“We will never have enough of him and he will be welcome here with his lovely wife and daughter forever.

“They are now part of the club’s history. Arsene has engraved himself on the club forever and that I think is the greatest tribute to anybody. The fact that, no matter how many years go by, Arsene will always be remembered. That cannot be said about many people.” Henry said Wenger has transformed Arsenal during his time at the club, changing them from a boring side into an attractive team to watch.

The striker said he could never imagine the club being without their French manager.

“Arsene has been tremendous for Arsenal football club,” he said. “He’s done tremendously well.

“I’ll never forget the club or him. He’s been at Arsenal for 13 years. I don’t see Arsenal without Arsene Wenger.’’

Wenger added: “Arsenal was well known for being a boring team and he’s changed that as soon as he arrived with the style of play and trophies we won.

“He’s the type of guy that makes you realise that you can do anything you want. Whenever a player comes to play for Arsenal they suddenly become better. I don’t know why or how?

“He’s a great human being on top of everything.”

Henry is being tipped to return to Arsenal in the future but, while he concedes he would love to return to the club, he currently cannot envisage in what capacity.

“I’m trying to finish what I started 15 years ago,” he said.

“I’ve always said you go back to where you belong. I’ve never stopped saying that I love Arsenal and I’ll one day go back there. How? I don’t know, maybe a waterboy.’’

Hull manager Phil Brown said: “The one thing you can take from Arsene Wenger is a long-term plan, a bigger picture and I think it is marvellous the way he has come out and made £38 million profit and decided not to spend it and will only spend it when he decides to.

“Mr Wenger has done a marvellous job and he deserves full credit.’’

Meanwhile, Barcelona midfielder Xavi has risked infuriating Arsenal by expressing his ambition to play with Cesc Fabregas at the Nou Camp and claiming his Spain team-mate has “Barca DNA”.

Fabregas started his career at the Catalan giants before Arsene Wenger recruited him as 2003 as a 16-year-old – but he has consistently been linked with a return to La Liga since establishing himself in the Premier League.

“I’d like to play with him,” Xavi told Spanish newspaper El Mundo Deportivo. “I’ve always said that in the national team I link up with Cesc very well, despite the fact that many say we can’t play together.

“We demonstrated in the final of the European Championship that isn’t true.

“I especially hope that Cesc comes. He is a football player with Barca DNA and he is showing at Arsenal that he is on another level.

“I would love him to sign and that we could play together at Barca. Clearly, a lot of his career is ahead of him and I think that in the future will be at Barca.”

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