Atletico Madrid manager Diego Simeone insists he hasn’t spoken to anyone at Arsenal about replacing Arsene Wenger, and admits he has a massive amount of respect for the departing coach.
Arsenal play Atletico on Thursday night, less than a week after Wenger announced he’s stepping down at the end of the season. As one of the managers linked to the job in the past, journalists of course asked Simeone about the vacancy.
“No, I haven’t spoken with anyone at Arsenal,” the 47-year-old responded simply. He then went on to talk about his thoughts and feelings on the boss.
“The first thing that comes to mind is admiration [Wenger]. He’s had to reinvent himself. I see myself as a young coach and I want to observe him and learn from him. The position he has occupied in football is wonderful.
“Given the love he [Wenger] has for Arsenal he will want his team to continue winning. It’s always great to take ideas from a coach like Wenger.”
Of course, it would’ve been a bit disrespectful of Arsenal to make Simeone an offer right before the tie between the two sides. They know his main focus is on beating the Gunners, and anything else is a distraction at the moment. I doubt the manager would respond well to any attempts to unsettle him right now.
They’ll only have to wait a week for the tie to be over, so there’s no real reason to approach the Argentinian now.
Why Arsenal would want to bring in the manager in the first place?
Simeone has a fantastic record with Atletico Madrid, especially for such a young manager. He won La Liga with the club over Barcelona and Real Madrid in 2013-14.
The former defensive midfielder took them to two Champions League finals, and won the Europa League. He also lifted the Copa del Rey, the Supercopa de Espana and the UEFA Super Cup.
This season, he’s led his team to second place in La Liga, with the best defensive record in the competition. He’s also in the semi-finals of the Europa League, of course. Arsenal could certainly use strengthening at the back, but we’ll see if they decide Simeone is the right man to provide it.