Former Arsenal great Patrick Vieira broke into the coaching ranks a few seasons ago with New York City Football Club of MLS, but the Frenchman says he is now ready to take the next step. In an interview with The Times, Vieira said that he is now ready to coach “any side in Europe.”
Vieira was linked to the soon-to-be vacant Arsenal post as soon as Arsene Wenger announced that this would be his final season at the Emirates last week. The former player said that he has not heard from anybody at the club regarding the job, however, and that it would be difficult for him to leave his current job at NYCFC.
Vieira said, “It’s an honour to be mentioned with Arsenal. It was somewhere I spent nine years and I love the club. I played my best football there and made my name in the game. I am always going to have a deeper relationship with Arsenal. That [alone] is not enough to coach that team, but I’m ready to coach any side in Europe.”
While Vieira would undoubtedly be ecstatic to be offered such a prestigious position, most expect Arsenal to replace Wenger with someone with more managerial experience. Former Barcelona boss Luis Enrique has been listed as the betting favorite to succeed Wenger, with other names like Thomas Tuchel, Massimiliano Allegri and Leonardo Jardim having also been mentioned as candidates. Most books list Vieira’s odds at getting the call around 12-1. If you’re new to betting, those odds aren’t particularly favorable for the France international.
Arsenal’s brass is expected to begin meeting with candidates this week.
Wenger obviously has no say in who comes in to replace him, but he has said that it would be “great” if the club were to hire one of its former players to run the operation. Wenger has also specifically singled out Vieira as a man that would make for a great Arsenal coach someday.
While Vieira clearly has interest in moving to Europe, he said that it would also be incredibly hard for him to leave NYCFC in the middle of the season. Vieira currently has NYCFC on top of the Eastern Conference with a record of 8-5-2 through 15 matches. The club’s 17 points are tied for the most in MLS along with Sporting Kansas City.
Vieira added, “If the call came, it would be really difficult. It would be difficult because we will be in the middle of the season. And, like every time I’ve been approached by any teams, I’m sitting with the guys from the [City Football Group] and will let them know. They will make the decision because I’m under contract.”
One of Vieira’s former Arsenal teammates, Sol Campbell, said recently that the Gunners should take the chance on Vieira to replace Wenger. He said, “I think they should see if they can promote from within. It could be someone who has played for the club and is managing now or has aspirations of managing Arsenal and would love to take that opportunity.”
Vieira scored 29 goals in 279 appearances for Arsenal between 1996 and 2005. He also played for Cannes, AC Milan, Juventus and Inter Milan before retiring after playing his final season with Manchester City in 2010-11. Vieira was named Arsenal captain in 2002 after the retirement of Tony Adams.