Patrick Vieira Plays Down Rumours of Becoming Arsene Wenger's Successor

James Dudko@@JamesDudkoFeatured ColumnistApril 21, 2018

NEW YORK, NY - JULY 19: Patrick Vieira head coach / manager of New York City during MLS fixture between Toronto FC and New York City FC at Yankee Stadium on July 19, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images)
Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images

Patrick Vieira has distanced himself from rumours he could succeed Arsene Wenger as Arsenal manager this summer, after the latter announced his intention to step down at the end of the season on Friday.

Vieira, who won three Premier League titles and four FA Cups as a player under Wenger, said he remains content at MLS side New York City FC during an interview with radio station WNYE (h/t Sky Sports):

"I spent nine years at Arsenal, which makes the club really special for me. But that is not enough to coach the team. I am always flattered to hear my name linked with different football clubs. That is good for your ego but at the same time, I am happy here."

"We will see what will happen in the next couple of years."

Before he confirmed his decision to end his 22-year Arsenal tenure, Wenger had identified his former skipper as a worthy candidate to replace him, per ESPN FC's Mattias Karen.

Wenger believes Vieira is capable of succeeding him in the Arsenal dugout.
Wenger believes Vieira is capable of succeeding him in the Arsenal dugout.Phil Cole/Getty Images

The idea Vieira could succeed Wenger is intriguing. It would be a major step up for the 41-year-old, despite his smart, steady progress along the coaching ranks in recent years.

Vieira performed fine work with Manchester City's academy and is enjoying a third season in charge in New York. Like his onetime manager, Vieira has established a reputation for favouring expansive, attractive football and giving young players a chance.

Those qualities would uphold the values Wenger imprinted on Arsenal since he gave a 20-year-old Vieira his chance back in 1996. The decision was perhaps Wenger's best, as Vieira became the Gunners' combative, thoughtful fulcrum, a player equally adept at protecting the defence and launching attacks with classy distribution.

He was the captain of the double winners in 2002 and scored the winning goal to beat Leicester City 2-1 in 2004 and confirm Arsenal as champions, having not lost a single game all season.

It's no surprise Vieira, like many, paid tribute to his former boss on social media:

Vieira is also one of three former players, along with City assistant Mikel Arteta, who won two FA Cups with Wenger in 2014 and '15, as well as Arsenal's all-time leading goalscorer, Thierry Henry, who have been linked with the job, per BBC Sport's David Ornstein.

The idea of notable ex-players taking on big jobs at marquee clubs has been enhanced by Zinedine Zidane's success at Real Madrid. Zidane has won two UEFA Champions League trophies and one La Liga title.

Whether Vieira could achieve similar success is debatable, but the Frenchman is making the right call in preaching caution regarding the rumours linking him with an Arsenal return, even if he's left the door open to one day fill Wenger's shoes.

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