Arsenal play Atletico Madrid tonight at the Emirates, in the first leg of the Europa League semi-final. Since Arsene Wenger announced his departure from the club this summer, Atletico manager Diego Simeone has been on the media-drawn list of possible successors to the Frenchman.
The clash of the two teams is probably the best possible excuse to spark up a conversation on the subject, and Simeone spoke, very clearly:
“I have not spoken with anyone at Arsenal. I love it here at Atletico.”
As Wenger is set to conduct the team just six or seven times more (depending on whether Arsenal reach the Europa League final), Simeone spoke awhile about his adversary in this two-leg fixture.
He says that the first thing that comes to his mind about Arsene Wenger is admiration. The Argentine claims that to survive for such a long time – 22 years – as the manager of a big club like Arsenal, Wenger has had to reinvent numerous times in order to stay competitive in the ever-changing surroundings. Considering himself a young manager still, Simeone wants to observe and learn from Wenger.
The 47-year-old stresses that it’s very difficult to stay at the top level for so long in football because of the constant pressure of competing. When a manager is doing well, the public expects always more and that is not always possible, claims the Atletico boss.
In the end, he added that the position Wenger occupies in football is “wonderful”.
At the weekend, Simeone said former Chelsea striker Diego Costa wouldn’t play against Arsenal because of a hamstring injury, but the Brazil-born Spaniard could still feature.
If Arsenal beat the Madrid side over two legs and eventually win the Europa League, it would be a nice way to say goodbye to the man who has brought three Premier League titles to the club and make the job of signing good players this summer a little bit easier for the man that ends up in his place, as it would mean a place in the Champions League for the Gunners.
Arsenal can now be backed at 3/1 to win the Europa League.