Arsene Wenger appears set to prolong his time as manager of Arsenal, revealing he will likely spend the rest of his life in England.
Wenger currently has the Gunners sitting atop the Premier League table, but his contract expires this summer, per Kevin Palmer of ESPN FC.
Speaking to The Associated Press (via the New Zealand Herald), Wenger said:
I can see the rest of my life in England, why not?
I feel comfortable in this country because we share a common passion for football and as well I am very thankful for this country for having accepted me and giving me a chance. I am happy on the football pitch.
Wenger clearly has Arsenal blood running through his veins, having spent 17 years at the North London club.
He insists he loves nothing more than to make Arsenal supporters happy, commenting in the NZ Herald article:
I love to do well. I just feel I am happy if I can give some pleasure and happiness to people who love Arsenal. That is my main target. When I don't achieve that I am very disappointed.
Wenger is set to be offered a three-year contract by Arsenal, according to John Cross of Mirror Football.
The intention is to fend off potential interest from clubs in Wenger’s native France, most notably PSG which are becoming a financially backed European force.
Wenger has always preferred to delay contract negotiations until close to the end of a season, allowing him to maintain focus on football rather than behind-the-scenes talks.
However, his latest words will provide reassurance to the Arsenal board that he has little plan to leave the Premier League for Ligue 1.
Wenger, after an eight-year trophy drought, found himself in a precarious position at the start of the campaign following an opening-day loss to Aston Villa.
His team, though, have not lost since that embarrassment and—following the signing of Mesut Ozil—look genuine title contenders this season.
Wenger has won three Premier League titles and four FA Cups with Arsenal but has sacrificed his own reputation at times in order to aid the club’s financial future.
The move to the impressive Emirates Stadium inevitably dictated that Arsenal limit their outlay in order to meet regular repayments, and the way Wenger has handled the transition is viewed as a model for other English clubs to follow, per Bill Wilson of BBC News.
Ozil’s £42.4 million transfer smashed the previous record fee paid by the Gunners and potentially signals an intention to finally loosen the purse strings in the future.
Having overseen such a crucial era in Arsenal’s history, displaying such integrity in the face of criticism that has not always been warranted, it would be the perfect way for Wenger to complete his Arsenal reign if he could inspire another period of success.
His declaration that he will continue to live in England suggests the reported three-year deal is not far from being signed.