Arsene Wenger has revealed that he has stayed away from the club since his mutual departure in 2018 because he feared his ‘presence there could have been a problem’ for his successors, despite admitting that his ‘my life is definitely linked to Arsenal’ as he backed them to challenge for the Premier League title this season.
The legendary Gunners boss spent 20 years in charge of the north London side, winning 17 trophies during his time with the club and coaching a host of star names, including the famous Invincible side who went through an entire season unbeaten, something that has not been achieved since.
However, his final years were marred with toxicity, with fans seeing themselves being left behind by their former rivals as they fought for fourth place time and time again.
And, speaking at his former Chairman David Dein’s book release, he admitted that he is yet to go back to the stadium he oversaw the move to, keen to give the new powers in charge space to work.
“I haven’t been there since 2018. After 22 years as manager, maybe I arrived at the end of the road and people wanted a change.”, the Frenchman explained.
“The club had chosen a different direction and I can understand that completely. Sometimes you need to have a completely new staff and my presence there could have been a problem.
“So I stayed away completely to give the club the chance to rebuild a new connection with a new manager. That’s why I never talked about Arsenal and never came back to the Emirates because I didn’t want to be a presence that is maybe not good for the club.
“But I still feel that my life is definitely linked with Arsenal so now I support them from my TV and I am also very busy travelling the world for Fifa.”
This, of course, is in stark contrast to former rivals Manchester United, where Wenger’s nemesis Sir Alex Ferguson has been heavily involved in the years since his retirement in 2013, even picking his successor and being used on multiple occasions to lure players to Old Trafford.
Current Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta has previously spoken of his desire to bring Wenger closer to the club than he was under Unai Emery, explaining that: “What I can say is that I’d like him to be much closer personally to me, because he’d be a great help and a great help for the club.”
“Things take time, he has to dictate those timings. What I can say is that from my side and I can say on behalf of everybody [here] that we’d be delighted to have him much closer here.”
At present, however, Wenger appears happy with his role within FIFA.
Arsenal dark horses for the title?
Quizzed further on his former club, Wenger was full of praise for the Gunners, who currently sit atop the Premier League table, even refusing to rule them out for a title charge against Manchester City and Liverpool, who have dominated in recent seasons.
“I would say they are moving in the right direction. I honestly think there is no weak position in the team... they are young, promising players and they have bought well this year”, he said.
“There is no completely dominating team this season and Arsenal has a chance with the potential that is there. We used to be in the top four and why not again? You cannot even rule out the fact that they can fight for the title and hopefully they can do it.”