Arsenal fans beware. PSG still want Wenger
By Oliver Wilson
The long search has ended for Paris St German as the Ligue 1 champions announced that former World Cup winner Laurent Blanc would be taking control of the side next season as they try to defend their first league title in 19 years.
After seven of football management’s biggest names were linked to the role – Massimiliano Allegri (AC Milan), Fabio Capello (Russia), Guus Hiddink (Anzhi), Jose Mourinho(Chelsea), Frank Rijkaard (unemployed), Andre Villas-Boas (Tottenham) and Arsene Wenger (Wenger) – one of French football's most iconic heroes is proving to be a last ditch savior – as he was on so many occasions for the national side and for French football’s only outfit with a chance at winning a European Cup.
The move has and will have repercussions all around Europe, with Real Madrid able to confirm that former PSG coach Carlo Ancelotti will be stepping into their vacant seat in the Bernabéu dugout, while the futures of Marco Verratti, Wayne Rooney and others now hang in the balance as Carlo begins to work his magic in Madrid.
Back in Paris, it was confirmed that Blanc had been given a two year contract at one of the world’s richest clubs, but - and this is when Arsenal fan’s might want to take note - the club had placed an option on the second year of his deal, depending on results.
Some may see this as PSG just hedging their bets incase Blanc can’t stand the pressure of one of the most demanding football sides in Europe.
The option, however, appears to be a big indicator of the Parisian giant’s intentions to bring Arsene Wenger to Paris come the end of next season when his current deal at the North London club expires.
PSG were first linked with the Arsenal boss back in April this year as French news outlets reported that sources at the club were confident that the now 63-year-old manager could be lured back to his native land this summer. Wenger, though, could not be swayed and the farcical race to replace Carlo Ancelotti took off from there.
Arsenal have begun to table a contract extension for Arsene which will secure his services for at least another season, with the club’s chief executive Ivan Gazidis describing Wenger as, “the right person to take the club forward" but with a trophy cabinet that hasn’t been added to in over eight years, the pressure on Arsene to either deliver some silverware or move away from the Emirates Stadium is beginning to build.
PSG would be an ideal escape route for the Frenchman. Wenger has never expressed a desire to head back to France publicly but a chance to head home for the latter part of his managerial career can only be seen as a positive in the eyes of many. Paris is, to almost anyone, an attractive city and the football club’s near unrivalled wealth in the league would make Wenger a shoe in to lift a Ligue 1 title and end his silverware drought should he join the club. Wenger would bring a wealth of experience with young players as UEFA’s Financial Fair Play scheme begins to take effect across the continent, although PSG would still have the financial clout and the draw of almost guaranteed Champions League football, to entice stars to the club in August and January’s transfer windows.
The managerial role at PSG was always going to be, this summer, a difficult role to fill. The desire for Wenger to lead the revolution that Ancelotti began is a well known fact across Europe and few managers want to be given the unofficial – or in Rafa Bentiez’s case at Chelsea, official – title of interim manager. The nine-month touchline ban of Ancelotti’s right-hand man, Leonardo, has placed a spanner in the works, with the Brazillian initially seen as an ideal stop gap to fill the managerial void at the club before operation ‘bring Arsene to Paris’ takes place in 12-months time.
Blanc’s spell at PSG is, almost undoubtedly, likely to be linked to whether Wenger signs a one year contract extension with Arsenal. If he does, Blanc is likely to be given the second year of his deal but not before the proverbial carrot is dangled out in front of Arsene’s nose.
The message from Paris is clear. Arsene, we are waiting.