It’s fair to say Arsenal have missed Patrick Vieira since he left the club 13 years ago. In all that time, Arsene Wenger still hasn’t managed to find a decent holding midfielder to replace the indomitable Frenchman. He hasn’t won a league title either.
So perhaps it’s time for Wenger to pass the baton to Vieira to see if he can find a replacement for himself. Perhaps it’s time for Vieira to become the Arsenal manager.
It might sound like a wacky idea, but the possibility is being strongly considered by the Gunners board according to today’s Mail, which claims the Highbury legend is being “lined up” as Wenger’s successor.
The north Londoners are “looking for candidates” to replace the 68-year-old after yet another difficult season at the Emirates and Vieira is reportedly a “serious contender” to return to the club.
But don’t get too excited Gunners fans, because the Mail says in its next breath that Wenger will not be sacked this summer “even if he fails in the Europa League”.
That means Vieira, or any other prospective new gaffer, would have to wait for Wenger to leave of his own accord, which he hasn’t been inclined to do in any of his previous 22 seasons in charge.
The Telegraph has a completely different version of events, however. It says this will be Wenger’s last season as manager “even if Arsenal win the Europa League” and that the leading candidates to replace him are Luis Enrique, Julian Nagelsmann, Domenico Tedesco, Leonardo Jardim, Brendan goddamn Rodgers and a different former Gunners captain – Mikel Arteta.
No mention of Vieira. Could it be that the Daily Mail is printing codswallop? Surely not.
Chelsea choose Sarri as Conte successor
Some of those same names have been linked with Antonio Conte’s Chelsea job in recent weeks, but it appears the Blues have now narrowed down their search to one man: Maurizio Sarri.
The Mail (yes, them again) says the Italian has emerged as the “No 1 target” to replace Conte after he indicated his desire to leave Napoli at the end of this season.
Roman Abramovich is keen is appoint someone soon because his primary transfer targets are apparently refusing to commit to the club until they know who will be in charge next season. Ah, that old excuse.
One of those targets would appear to be Layvin Kurzawa, the Paris Saint-Germain left-back. The Mirror claims Chelsea are involved in a “tug-of-war” with Tottenham and Manchester United for the 25-year-old Frenchman who sounds Japanese but isn’t.
Meanwhile, Spurs are also interested in Leicester City’s Demarai Gray, who they tried and failed to sign last summer, according to some “sources close to the London club” who have spoken to ESPN.
Elsewhere, newly promoted Wolves have put Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere on their shopping list and want to make him the “statement signing” for their Premier League return (Mirror), Crystal Palace will try to sell Christian Benteke this summer because Roy Hodgson has “grown frustrated” with the £32m striker (Mail) and Everton are favourites to sign 16-year-old Nantes wonderkid Kamal Bafounta, who has been dubbed “the new Paul Pogba” (Goal). There goes his chance of a move to Man Utd.