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Arsene Wenger Talks 'Age Discrimination' Amid Thomas Tuchel to Arsenal Rumours

James Dudko@@JamesDudkoFeatured ColumnistMarch 25, 2018

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger waits for the beginning of the soccer Europa League group H match between FC Cologne and Arsenal in Cologne, Germany, Thursday, Nov. 23, 2017. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)
Martin Meissner/Associated Press

Arsene Wenger has hit out at what he views as "age discrimination" amid questions about his legacy as Arsenal manager, as well as rumours former Borussia Dortmund boss Thomas Tuchel is set to succeed him this summer.

During an interview with beIN Sports (h/t James Benge of the London Evening Standard), Wenger said: "You focus on doing well for your club and ignore all the rest. Overall the older you get, the more it becomes a little bit age discrimination."

Wenger was asked whether winning the UEFA Europa League would be an ideal way for his near-22-year tenure with the Gunners to end.

While the 68-year-old rejected the notion of being concerned with a fairytale finish, he did say he is prepared to take blame for poor results: "I can accept that if the results are not good enough. We are in a job where we have to deal with the consequences, but overall that perpetual thing of a link with how long you've been at the club, how old you are, I find that a bit difficult to take."

Wenger isn't interested in talk about his legacy as Arsenal target winning the Europa League.
Wenger isn't interested in talk about his legacy as Arsenal target winning the Europa League.Sergei Grits/Associated Press

Wenger also railed against the idea how he will be remembered is important: "I'm a little bit fed up with all that modern thing of completely taking care of your image. I've always worked my whole life with the idea it's more important who you are than how you look."

The idea Wenger's fate could be sealed by results is especially prominent during a campaign wherein Arsenal sit sixth in the Premier League. Wenger's men are 13 points adrift of fourth place and facing the prospect of missing out on the UEFA Champions League for a second season running.

Winning the Europa League would grant the Gunners admittance to Europe's top club tournament next term. Yet while Arsenal face CSKA Moscow in the last eight of the competition, the rest of the draw features daunting potential opponents such as RB Leipzig and La Liga giants Atletico Madrid.

Questioning Wenger about his legacy comes as reports from Germany gather pace Arsenal have already lined up the Frenchman's successor. A report from Sport Bild said Tuchel has turned down Bayern Munich because he's agreed to take another job, believed to be Arsenal (h/t Ben Snowball of Eurosport).

More than one German source believes ex-Dortmund chief Tuchel will succeed Wenger this summer.
More than one German source believes ex-Dortmund chief Tuchel will succeed Wenger this summer.Friso Gentsch/Associated Press

Snowball also relayed a separate report from Kicker that named the Gunners as Tuchel's next destination, with the 44-year-old likely to step in this summer.

Former Bayern and Germany star Lothar Matthaus lent weight to these claims by confirming Tuchel has been "in touch" with Arsenal, per Goal's Joe Wright.

However, the Daily Mirror's John Cross denied the Tuchel reports, saying: "Mirror Sport understands there has been no official contact with the former Borussia Dortmund manager."

Whatever the veracity of the latest rumours, Wenger doesn't sound like a man ready to walk away quietly from the job he's held since 1996.

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