Arsène Wenger Discusses Arsenal, Mikel Arteta, Rejecting Real Madrid & More

Tom Gott
Arsene Wenger has opened up about his time at Arsenal
Arsene Wenger has opened up about his time at Arsenal / Etsuo Hara/Getty Images
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Few people have the same kind of significance to Arsenal as legendary manager Arsène Wenger, who spent 22 years in charge of the Gunners and helped revolutionise both the club and English football as a whole.

He was a part of some of the Premier League's most iconic memories and has thousands of stories to share, so he sat down with BBC Sport to spill the beans on everything from Mikel Arteta, to Zlatan Ibrahimović and what's going on with Mesut Özil.

Here are some of the best bits.


On His Love for Arsenal

Wenger remains committed to Arsenal
Wenger remains committed to Arsenal / IAN KINGTON/Getty Images

"The love of my life. I gave 22 years of my life to the club. I built the training centre and I built the Emirates Stadium. I gave a lot of sweat to get the stadium money paid back and to create an atmosphere and infrastructure to allow this club to do well and invest in the future. I think we are in a good way.

"I'm a little bit like a guy who's ended a relationship and has no contact with his children any more but he still loves them."


On Whether He Ever Came Close to Leaving

Real Madrid tried to sign Wenger twice
Real Madrid tried to sign Wenger twice / Jun Sato/Getty Images

"Certainly Real Madrid - because you do not know many people who turned them down twice. And it was to stay with a team which doesn't have the resources to win the championship. But I told myself if I was going to go for the challenge of managing Arsenal, I would go until the end.

"You have different types of managers. I was the longest-serving manager at Monaco and the longest-serving manager at Arsenal - so it's part of my personality."


On Whether He Regrets Only Inviting Ibrahimovic for a Trial

Ibrahimovic famously rejected Arsenal as a teenager
Ibrahimovic famously rejected Arsenal as a teenager / Alessandro Sabattini/Getty Images

"Not really, because he was a 17-year-old boy playing at Malmö in the second league in Sweden. And nobody knew him. We gave trials to many players at 17 - it was absolutely normal before you make a decision."


On Whether Arsenal Are in Good Hands Under Arteta

Arteta has steadied the ship at the Emirates
Arteta has steadied the ship at the Emirates / Clive Rose/Getty Images

"Yes. He has the ingredients to be a very good manager, a top manager, but many of my former players had these ingredients. We have to give them time, let them do their job in the way they want to do it.

"He's intelligent, he has big passion and a strong character. And I believe he's surrounding himself with the right people."


On Özil's Current Struggles

Ozil remains out in the cold
Ozil remains out in the cold / Harriet Lander/Copa/Getty Images

"I feel it is a waste for him.

"Firstly because he's in the years where a player of his talent can produce the most. And it's a waste for the club as well because he's a super talent, a creative talent that in the final third can create that killer pass.

"The way football is going at the moment it's quick counter-pressing, quick transitions and everybody plays the same. It's kicked out players like Özil. Although let's not forget who this guy is. A world champion who has played at Real Madrid.

"He's been the record player of assists, so you have to find a way to get him involved again."


On Criticism He Faced Towards the End

Many fans called for Wenger to walk away
Many fans called for Wenger to walk away / Catherine Ivill/Getty Images

"I don't believe you should rate highly what a fan says in the moment - a fan says something based on the moment, based on emotions. Today it seems the minority has a big dictatorship. They dictate what is talked about, therefore if you have 50 people on social media being negative it can somehow get more attention than 60,000 people in a stadium.

"It doesn't mean everybody has to do what they talk about. If you look at our last three years you will see in 2016 we finished second - OK, it was behind Leicester City but every other club finished behind Leicester too and they lost only three games. In 2017 that was the first time we were not in the Champions League since 1997.

"So, yes, I wish we had maintained that record but I think this year we have a good chance in order to be back in the top four."


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