Mikel Arteta has invited Arsene Wenger to make a sensational Arsenal return as he claimed the Gunners “would be delighted to have him much closer”.
Wenger was appointed Arsenal manager in 1996, leading the Gunners to three Premier League titles and seven FA Cup triumphs before his departure in 2018.
The Frenchman currently works as FIFA’s chief of global football development, acting as a figurehead for world football’s governing body.
Arteta played under Wenger for five years before retiring in 2016 and taking a coaching role with Manchester City, prior to accepting his first managerial job at Arsenal in December 2019.
After meeting the 72-year-old at the recent premiere of his film ‘Arsene Wenger: Invincible’, Arteta indicated he would welcome his former manager Wenger back to the club immediately.
“There has been communication, I saw him and talked to him when we went to see his film. It was incredibly pleasant to see him, to chat to him, and hopefully we can bring him close,” Arteta told a news conference when asked about Wenger on Thursday.
“I think he would have a great time seeing the environment he could create around him.
“It is great when he comes around this place because of the respect and admiration everyone at the club has what for he has done and what he represents as a person for us.”
Pressed for clarity on a potential role for Wenger, Arteta said: “I cannot tell you now, but what I can say is I would like him to be much closer, personally to me because he would be a great help for me and the club.
“But things take time, and he has to dictate those timings. What I can say, on behalf of everybody, is we would be delighted to have him much closer.”
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Arsenal are preparing to face strugglers Newcastle United on Saturday, having won 16 of their last 17 Premier League meetings with Eddie Howe’s new side.
The Gunners have also never lost a game against the side starting the day bottom of the top-flight table, but Arteta has warned that Newcastle pose a different threat under Howe.
A 4-0 defeat to Liverpool last weekend has set back the progress that Arsenal appeared to be making.
“We must play as good as we can, we will learn [from the Liverpool loss] and compete throughout the game,” Arteta said.
“Let’s keep going, it’s a new game. There are some changes [at Newcastle]. You can see the momentum is building; it’s different even in the last game they played.
“New manager, the new coaching staff – we need to be prepared. I admire Eddie and his style of play, Newcastle are not as poor as the table suggests.
“Their last few games could have all gone entirely different ways. With the attacking threats they have got in the final third, we are going to have to be really cautious and play as well as we can.”