Diego Simeone Says He Has Had No Arsenal Contact over Replacing Arsene Wenger

Christopher Simpson@@CJSimpsonBRFeatured ColumnistApril 26, 2018

Atletico Madrid's Argentinian coach Diego Simeone speaks during a press conference at the Emirates Stadium in London on April 25, 2018 on the eve of their UEFA Europa League first leg semi-final football match against Arsenal. (Photo by Ben STANSALL / AFP)        (Photo credit should read BEN STANSALL/AFP/Getty Images)

Atletico Madrid boss Diego Simeone has confirmed there has been no contact between himself and Arsenal amid rumours he could replace Arsene Wenger at the club. 

Simeone and Wenger will pit their wits against one another in the first leg of the UEFA Europa League semi-final on Thursday, and the Argentinian was asked if the Gunners had been in touch about taking over from the Frenchman when he leaves at the end of the season.

Per the Mirror's James Whaling, he said: "No, I haven't spoken with anyone at Arsenal."

"The first thing that comes to mind is admiration [Wenger]," he added. "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."

As Kieran Canning of Agence France-Presse noted, the 48-year-old was respectful of his counterpart:

Kieran Canning @KieranCanning

Simeone never referred to Wenger by name only "the mister" - a sign of respect. Also pretty glowing on Ozil: "his speed of thought dictates the game."

Simeone extended his stay with Los Rojiblancos to 2020 in September, but as one of Europe's top coaches, it's of little surprise he has been linked with Arsenal's impending vacancy.

He arrived in the Spanish capital in 2011 and has won La Liga, the Europa League and the Copa del Rey in the years since, as well as twice reaching the UEFA Champions League final, in which his side would lose on both occasions to bitter rivals Real Madrid.

Football writer Aaron West believes he could do an excellent job at the Emirates Stadium, though he is doubtful the Argentinian will join:

A West @ayyy_west

Who would I want to replace Arsene Wenger? My dream, although I don't think it's realistic, is Diego Simeone. I'd love for him to come in, grab some throats, get them sorted tactically & rebuild the entire club. Do I think it'll happen? Helll nawwwwwww

One of the hallmarks of his management of Atleti has been the defensive solidity and organisation he has brought to the team.

Atletico have conceded just 18 times in 34 La Liga matches this season—the same tally they shipped in the entirety of the 2015-16 campaign—and the most they have conceded in any of his five full seasons in charge is 31 league goals.

By contrast, Arsenal have conceded 46 in the Premier League this term, and their fragility has repeatedly been a source of frustration in recent years, particularly in the Champions League. The Gunners' 10-2 aggregate defeat to Bayern Munich in the last 16 of the 2016-17 campaign is just one of many examples that spring to mind.

Simeone's intensity would mark a significant departure from Wenger, and while that would perhaps not be the smoothest transition, the shake-up could benefit the club given the new manager will need to arrest a decline 10 years in the making.

He appears to be content in Madrid, though, with a side who have often competed in the latter stages of the Champions League during his time there. Landing him would be an enormous coup, but it does not seem likely.


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