‘I’d like him to be much closer’: Arteta keen for Wenger to return to Arsenal
- Manager hopes Wenger will return in some capacity
- ‘We would be delighted to have him much closer’
Mikel Arteta would like Arsène Wenger to return to Arsenal in some capacity, saying he is keen for the former manager to become “much closer” and that the club would benefit from his presence.
Wenger has not been back to the Emirates since his departure in 2018, which ended a 22-year tenure that brought Arsenal’s most successful spell of modern times, and has been Fifa’s chief of global football development since November 2019. He signed Arteta from Everton in 2011 and the midfielder became his captain before succeeding Unai Emery in the manager’s role two years ago; the pair have been in contact, notably when both attending a screening of a documentary film about Wenger this month, and Arteta intends to ensure they are in close proximity more often.
“There has been communication, and I saw him and talked to him when we went to see the film,” Arteta said. “It was incredibly pleasant to see him and chat to him. Hopefully we can bring him close, because I think he will have a great time just seeing the environment 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.”
Questioned on what a role for Wenger may entail, Arteta replied: “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.”
Another midfielder and former captain signed by Wenger, Granit Xhaka, is in line for an early return from the injury to his medial knee ligament sustained in September. Xhaka was expected to be out until January but, while Saturday’s top-flight meeting with Newcastle comes far too soon, Arteta said he could still play in 2021.
“I hope so, yes,” he said when asked whether Xhaka could come back before the end of the year. “Hopefully he will be a little bit sooner than expected, he is training and pushing himself and all the staff so hard like he always does. He is in a good place.”