Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta has revealed that he has spoken to Arsene Wenger about the possibility of returning to the club in some capacity in the near future. Wenger is widely considered to be among the greatest managers of all time, with the legacy of his successful 22-year spell in charge of the Gunners between 1996 and 2018 still clearly felt in north London.
He led Arsenal to three Premier League titles and oversaw the club’s record-breaking ‘invincible’ season in which they avoided defeat for an entire league campaign.
The Frenchman stayed in charge until the summer of 2018, when he finally called time on his spell at the club after his relationship with supporters was tested during the latter stages.
Wenger officially ended his reign by mutual consent, but has since declared that the manner of his departure was not his decision.
The 72-year-old, who now serves as FIFA’s chief of global football development, has failed to return to the Emirates Stadium to watch a single match in the years since.
However, Arteta told reporters on Thursday that he has reached out to Wenger to discuss a possible return to Arsenal, admitting that he would be eager to benefit from a close working relationship with his former boss.
“Well, we have been in communication,” said Arteta, who recently met Wenger at the premiere of his new film, Arsene Wenger: Invincible.
“I saw him and I talked to him when we went to see the film and it was incredibly pleasant to see him and chat to him and hopefully we can bring him close.
“I think he would have a great time, just seeing the environment he can create around him when he is around this place because of the respect, admiration and the love that everybody at the club has for what he has done and as well for what he represents as a person in this club.”
When quizzed by ESPN on the specific role that Wenger could be given, Arteta replied: “I cannot tell you now. But what I can say is I would like him to be much closer personally to me.
“I think it would be a great help, it would be a great help for the club. Things take time and I think he has to dictate those timings.
“What I can say from my side and I think on behalf of everybody, that we would be delighted to have him much closer.”
It remains to be seen whether or not Wenger can be convinced to rejoin Arsenal, who currently occupy fifth place in the Premier League table.
The Gunners have only lost once in the league since the end of September, with their most recent defeat coming at the hands of Liverpool on Saturday.
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They will be looking for an immediate return to form this weekend when Newcastle United, who are yet to win a single match this season, make the long trip to north London.
Arteta went on to insist that it will be a difficult task for his Arsenal side to claim all three points against the Magpies in spite of their respective positions at opposite ends of the Premier League table.
“For what I’ve seen of them in the last few games as well, there were crucial moments in games where the game could have gone in a completely different way,” explained Arteta.
“We know the attacking threat that they have, they have players that can hurt you in the last 30 metres of the pitch and we’re gonna have to be really conscious of that and play as well as we can.”