Arsene Wenger has reportedly asked the Dutch national team if he can replace Ronald Koeman, who is destined for Barcelona after the former Arsenal man turned down the chance to manage Barca himself.
Barcelona sacked Quique Setien after they were humiliated 8-2 by Bayern Munich in the Champions League. To be fair, that defeat was merely the poo cherry on their poo cake as the Catalan club had already spoken to Arsene Wenger about taking up the role after the Frenchman made it clear he was still open to a return to management.
Currently working at FIFA, where he is seen as number two to president Gianni Infantino, Wenger spoke recently about how much he misses the day-to-day of club coaching.
That being said, he stressed the job would have to be ‘perfect’ for him to consider returning to that sort of lifestyle given that he’s now 70.
Barcelona’s offer must have seemed like too big a job because, after talks with them about replacing the Quique Setien, Wenger politely declined.
I assume it was polite, but I cannot confirm it as it’s not mentioned in any report, but this is Arsene Wenger we’re talking about.
Setien was only appointed to the role in mid-January but the Bayern drubbing made sure an open door was held open for him to leave.
Le10Sport then reported that Barcelona were one of a few clubs to approach Wenger, which isn’t really a surprise. Nobody did a better job of demonstrating just how well Wenger did under tight restrictions than Unai Emery when he arrived to replace him at Arsenal and proceeded to make things much, much worse.
“I want to create at Fifa the most efficient analysis centre in the world,” Wenger recently told Europe1. “I know it’s very ambitious, but you will see that at the World Cup in 2022 we will produce match analysis which will be extremely effective.”
Arsenal ‘analytics guru’ Jaeson Rosenfeld of StatDNA left the club to join Wenger at FIFA, according to a report back in March.
As for Barcelona, Wenger met with them, heard what they had to say and then declined their offer to take over for next season.
On Tuesday 18 August, the Daily Mail reported that Wenger had make an approach to the Dutch Football Association (KNVB) to replace Ronald Koeman who is destined to return to the side he managed between 1998 and 2000. It is expected that Koeman will be announced as the new Barcelona manager later this week after the club held a three-hour board meeting.
A national team job would be much more sedate for Wenger and would allow him to continue his work with FIFA given how few games the Dutch team would play compared to a top-level European club side.
The Mail get their information from Fox Sports presenter Jan Joost van Gangelen who believes Wenger, if he was to get the job, would take the Netherlands through their Euro 2021 campaign instead of the former Everton manager.
What has Arsene Wenger said about international management?
Arsene Wenger has never been the biggest fan of international management but, at 70-years-old, might realise this is his best option to coach one last time.
In 2016 Wenger, couldn’t have been clearer with his view that “international coaching is not coaching“.
“I was already in France asked a few times to take the national team at that age, 37, 38,” Wenger told the Independent. “But I thought always: ‘I have time to do it,’ and I thought it so much but I have still not done it. The time is getting short now.
“If you want to be part of coaching, then I think of course it’s at a club,” he added.
“For me, international coaching is not coaching. It’s only really interesting during the big tournaments. In Europe now you have 53 countries, 24 qualifiers, you play two years of qualifiers, no-one knows why. Then you go to the European Championships and that is interesting.
“Now they will create a 48-team World Cup, so we’ll start the World Cup in January and finish in June. It’s a very pressured job for the England coach and every week you go to a game and think: ‘Has this guy the level, do I pick him or not?’ But you are a bit frustrated on a daily basis.”
Things change, I guess.
Personally, I’d be absolutely delighted to see Wenger back on the touchlines, especially with the Dutch national team which is one I think most non-Dutch nationals have a lot of affection for. Just imagine if he was to bring Dennis Bergamp alongside him as his number two…
- This post was originally published on 13 August and was updated on 15 August to reflect the changing situation at Barcelona with the Barca manager following their Champions League humiliation.
- This post was updated again on 18 August with the news that Arsene Wenger had approached the Dutch Football Association (KNVB) to replace Ronald Koeman.