Patrick Vieira is “ready to manage Arsenal,” according to former teammate Robert Pires.
Arsene Wenger took charge of his last game at Huddersfield on Sunday as the curtain came down on a 22-year spell at the helm, and two former club captains in Vieira, the coach of New York City FC in MLS, and Manchester City assistant Mikel Arteta are among the favourites for the role.
Massimiliano Allegri of Juventus and former Chelsea boss Carlo Ancelotti both continue to also be linked with the vacancy, but Pires, who enjoyed a successful six-year spell with Arsenal has no doubt who he would like to see succeed Wenger.
“I have seen the shortlist: Allegri, Carlo Ancelotti, Mikel Arteta — why not? I think all of them could manage Arsenal,” Pires said in an interview with BT Sport. “There’s maybe a small advantage for Allegri and Ancelotti as they both have a lot of experience in Italy, Germany and England.
“With Vieira — and this is only my opinion — yes. Not just because he’s my friend. Forget this. He is doing very well with New York City, and he told me the job is very hard and difficult.
“However, he has a very good profile to replace Arsene Wenger, because he knows football, he knows the Premier League and of course, he knows Arsenal.
“So that’s why I say — yes, Patrick Vieira is ready to manage Arsenal.”
Vieira is also a firm favourite with Gunners’ fans, having helped drive Wenger’s “Invincibles” team through their unbeaten league season of 2003-04.
Sky Sports reported on Tuesday that Vieira had spoken with Arsenal about the position, but had been “left disappointed” by the “token gesture.”
Arteta has emerged as the front-runner and is reportedly the preferred choice of Arsenal chief executive Ivan Gazidis. The 36-year-old, however, holds no direct managerial experience, having served under Pep Guardiola at Manchester City since his retirement at the end of the 2015-16 campaign.
Another name touted as a potential successor has been Hoffenheim head coach Julian Nagelsmann, although the Bundesliga side insisted on Tuesday that the 30-year-old will be going nowhere.
Sources confirmed on Tuesday that Arsenal have let a number of key backroom staff members go as they continue their biggest restructuring in two decades following Wenger’s departure.
It also remains unclear what Wenger’s next move will be. The 68-year-old revealed last week he has some work to do in France early this week before returning to Arsenal’s London Colney training centre to clear his desk.
Speaking to the Arsenal website, in quotes published on Tuesday, Wenger said: “It will be very difficult for me [without Arsenal].
“At the moment if I want to continue to work, I think I have to move out of the country, because my gut feeling at the moment is that I would feel I would betray my club by staying in England. People might feel that I’ve betrayed what I’ve built here.
“That is the problem I face at the moment. My club is here, my heart is here and will be forever. As I said in my speech on the pitch after the Burnley [home] game, I’m a fan above all.”