With October drawing to a close, football’s ‘sacking season’ is well under-way, with a quarter of the season gone and chairmen across Europe’s top leagues ready to relieve under-performing managers of their duties.
Inevitably, that also means that the rumour mill is rife with links between struggling clubs and big name coaches who are currently unemployed.
At the moment, there is no such name bigger than Arsene Wenger.
Wenger has been out of work since his 22-year-reign at Arsenal came to an end in the summer but has publicly stated in recent weeks that he feels re-energised and ready to return to football in January. As a consequence, the 68-year-old is currently being linked with the manager’s roles at Real Madrid and Bayern Munich – both of whom have suffered nightmarish starts to their 2018-19 campaigns – as well as jobs in Japan (where he has previously managed) and a number of international roles.
There’s a good chance however that Wenger’s return to the game in the New Year will come in an entirely different role, with Paris St Germain ready to offer him a position in the boardroom. PSG have set a new French league record by winning all ten of their Ligue 1 matches so far this season and manager Thomas Tuchel’s job is as safe as the Bank of England (Brexit outcome notwithstanding) but director of football Antero Henrique is under some serious pressure.
Henrique reportedly has a tempestuous relationship with Tuchel and has also been lambasted by fans and a number of PSG players for a perceived failure in recruitment, despite splashing out on Neymar, Kylian Mbappe, Dani Alves and Gianluigi Buffon last season in his first year in the job. Expectations on Wenger would be exceedingly high therefore, though the Frenchman was once renowned for his ability to identify prodigious young talent, which is perhaps the reason why PSG have earmarked him for the position.
Meanwhile, Wenger’s link to PSG in the gossip columns has resulted in some peculiar activity in the betting markets, with some bookmakers having him as short as 6/1 with Coral to take over from Tuchel as manager, even though the German’s job is as safe as… yeah you get the picture.
You can get the best bookies offers on Wenger to be the next Paris St Germain manager priced at 18/1 for the job with 888sport, behind Arsene taking to the touchline at Bayern Munich at 13/2 with Betfred.
If Wenger is named PSG director of football however, then when you should have put your money is on Wenger to manage ‘no club or country by 1st August 2019’, currently being offered at 6/1 by SkyBet.
In addition to his aptitude for talent-spotting, Wenger has always shown an ability to nurture young players with potential, which he would get the opportunity to do at Parc des Princes with French Superstar Kylian Mbappé.
The 19-year-old is already a World Cup winner and one of the deadliest attacking players on world football, but so was Thierry Henry when he linked up with Wenger as a 21-year-old at Arsenal before really hitting his stride and becoming a force. Working alongside Tuchel, Wenger might be able to do the same with Mbappé, which – given where the teenager is at already – is a scary prospect.