After Arsene Wenger announced his departure after 22 years at the club, the most intriguing question is, naturally, who his replacement will be. There have been plenty of speculations from reliable journalists and those less reliable alike, but the truth is – nobody knows. Nobody outside the club, that is.
As for those on the inside, former Manchester United defender Gary Neville believes they do. The Sky Sports pundit is adamant that the Arsenal board and the likes of Ivan Gazidis know exactly who will take the reins that steer the Arsenal team from Wenger.
Neville thinks the departure of Wenger had actually been agreed last summer, long before the news was released into the world. He doesn’t believe the club would allow themselves to get into a situation where the manager announces in April he would leave at the end of the season without having a replacement lined up. He adds that a period of several days will be granted to Wenger to get all the attention, to get the acknowledgement that his work indisputably deserves, before confirming the successor’s name to the public and turning their faces forward.
It’s Neville’s opinion that the two-year contract Wegner signed last summer was a shield, designed as a period for them to work out a plan for the transition that is about to happen.
Meanwhile, the media have been doing their usual guesswork and bandying names around. Diego Simeone, Luis Enrique, Brendan Rodgers, Massimiliano Allegri, Leonardo Jardim, they’ve all been mentioned, along with former Arsenal captain Patrick Vieira who has been named as an option by Wenger himself.
Vieira, however, refused to discuss the possibility of an Arsenal return at the moment. The World Cup winner is currently in charge of New York City, an American club with strong links with Manchester City, and following their defeat to Portland Timbers on Sunday, he was asked about the possibility of replacing Wenger, but he insisted he had no comments to make on that, and he only wanted to talk about the game.