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'great help' Arteta opens talks with Arsene Wenger about a return to Arsenal

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Then Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger salutes the fans after his final home game as manager in 2018. Mikel Arteta is hopeful of bringing former Arsenal boss back to the Emirates Stadium in some capacity after revealing initial talks have taken place. Photo: Nick Potts/PA Wire

Then Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger salutes the fans after his final home game as manager in 2018. Mikel Arteta is hopeful of bringing former Arsenal boss back to the Emirates Stadium in some capacity after revealing initial talks have taken place. Photo: Nick Potts/PA Wire

Then Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger salutes the fans after his final home game as manager in 2018. Mikel Arteta is hopeful of bringing former Arsenal boss back to the Emirates Stadium in some capacity after revealing initial talks have taken place. Photo: Nick Potts/PA Wire

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta has spoken with Arsene Wenger about a possible return to the club, with the Spaniard hoping to bring his former coach “much closer” to his old team.

Wenger has not returned to the Emirates Stadium since the end of his 22-year spell as manager in 2018, and has previously indicated he would not be keen on going back to north London.

Arteta has been in contact with Wenger in recent weeks, though, and declared yesterday that he believes the 72-year-old could be a “great help” on a personal level as he continues the rebuilding process at the club.

Wenger, who is FIFA’s chief of global football development, spoke with Arteta at the recent premiere of Arsene Wenger: Invincible, a documentary about the Frenchman’s career.

“Well, there has been communication,” Arteta said when asked whether a formal offer had been made to Wenger.

“I saw him and I talked to him when we went to see the film. It was incredibly pleasant to see him and chat to him, and hopefully we can bring him close.

“Because I think he will have a great time just seeing the environment that he can create around him and around this place. Because of the respect and admiration that everybody at the club has for what he has done, and as well for what he represents as a person.”

Asked about what sort of role Wenger could take at the club, Arteta said: “I cannot tell you now, but what I can say is that I would like him to be much closer personally to me.

“Because I think it would be a great help – and it would be a great help for the club. Things take time, and I think he has to dictate those timings.

“What I can say is from my side, and I can talk, I think, on behalf of everybody, is that we would be delighted to have him much closer.”

It was Wenger who signed Arteta for Arsenal as a player in 2011 and later appointed the Spaniard as club captain.

Arteta has previously credited Wenger with starting “the fire” that made him want to become a manager after his playing career had come to an end.

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Wenger’s experience in football could be valuable for Arsenal’s executive leaders as well as for Arteta and his players.

There is a lack of experience at the top of the club, with technical director Edu (a former Arsenal player) in his first major off-field role with a European side and Per Mertesacker (another former Arsenal player) learning on the job in the academy.

Chief executive Vinai Venkatesham is also new to his position, having been promoted from within in the past few years during a time of considerable turmoil behind the scenes.

Although the nature of any potential role for Wenger is yet to be defined, it would be unlikely to have a direct influence on issues such as tactics and team selection.

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