Arsene Wenger believes former Arsenal favourite Patrick Vieira has the potential to manage the club in the future.
Reports yesterday claimed the 41-year-old New York City boss has been lined up to replace Wenger should he depart the Emirates Stadium this summer.
Vieira enjoyed a glittering nine-year stint at Arsenal during the peak of his career, lifting three Premier League titles and four FA Cups, as well as captaining Wenger’s side throughout their unbeaten ‘Invincibles’ season of 2003/04.
He returned to England after a successful spell in Serie A to see out his playing days at Manchester City, before taking a youth-team coaching role with the club.
That led in 2016 to him being appointed as manager of another of City Football Group’s clubs, Major League Soccer franchise New York City.
Wenger’s position has come under scrutiny again this season with a mediocre league campaign and a third-round FA Cup exit — and the Frenchman admitted his compatriot could be a good choice to lead Arsenal at some point.
“He’s a guy who has the potential one day, yes,” he said of Vieira’s credentials.
“He works in the moment in New York and he works for Man City. I’ve followed his managerial career. I think he does very well. But overall, after that, this Premier League is special, you know.
“You have to come in. There are plenty of former players who played here who have potential and the intelligence and the knowledge to do it. So there’s plenty of choice, don’t worry about that.”
Wenger was more evasive about his own future, instead insisting he wants to focus on ending the season with Europa League success ahead of next week’s semi-final first leg at home to Atletico Madrid.
“For us it’s absolutely vital to beat them (Atletico) and to have a chance to go into the final and win the competition,” he said.
“We have a big obstacle, a big hurdle in the semi-final. I would even say that Atletico Madrid are seen as the favourites to win the competition, but I believe that at our best, we can beat them.”
Meanwhile Wenger has revealed Arsenal have offered a “long-term” contract to Jack Wilshere and that his future will be decided before the World Cup. “I cannot give you any news because I don’t really know what is in his mind,” the Frenchman said when asked for an update on Wilshere’s contract wrangle.
“He has an offer that is on a long-term contract basically, and I hope that at some stage he will sign it.
“I think he will make his decision before the end of the season. he will not want to go to the World Cup and not have settled his situation because that would not be reasonable as well I think. He has the freedom to make that decision, he knows I want him to stay.”
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