Mikel Arteta has made no secret of his desire to have Arsene Wenger back at Arsenal in some capacity.
Since his departure at the end of the 2017/18 season, the legendary Frenchman has not once returned to the Emirates Stadium – not even to watch a game of football – instead taking up a role as FIFA’s chief of global football development in November 2019.
But in recent weeks, the current Arsenal boss has been vocal about the return of the club’s most successful manager.
“Well there has been communication, and I saw him and talked to him when we went to see the film,” the Spaniard admitted in his pre-Newcastle United press conference. “It was incredibly pleasant to see him and chat to him – and hopefully we can bring him close.
“Because I think he will have a great time just seeing the environment that he can create around him (and) around this place.
“Because of the respect and admiration that everybody at the club has for what he’s done – and as well for what he represents as a person in this club.
“I cannot tell you now, but what I can say is that I would like him to be much closer personally to me. Because I think it would be a great help – and 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 is from my side and I can talk I think on behalf of everybody that we would be delighted to have him much closer.”
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Whilst Arteta is clearly excited about the prospect of Wenger returning to Arsenal, the obvious question to ask is ‘would the Frenchman even be interested’?
Well, based on previous interviews since leaving the Gunners, it would appear that his stance has changed somewhat down the years, thus making the idea of him working alongside his former captain a real possibility.
Firstly, when speaking on beIN Sports in 2020, Wenger claimed he would never return to Arsenal.
“Would I return to the Emirates Stadium? I always said to myself that I would be leaving Arsenal completely,” he said. “That’s the decision I made.”
However, at the beginning of 2021, Wenger admitted that he would consider returning to Arsenal – but only on the condition that he is asked to do so.
“I wish nothing,” he said in an interview with Men in Blazers. “If I’m needed, I will help them. But I don’t expect that, no.”
Those comments coupled with Arteta’s clear wish for Wenger to return may just mean that a surprise reunion could very well be on the cards in the next few weeks or months.