(Reuters) - Former Arsenal midfielder Patrick Vieira says he is ready to manage in Europe as speculation continues to link him with the job of replacing Arsene Wenger at the end of the season.
Frenchman Vieira has been manager of New York City FC since 2016 and said that while he is in no rush to leave the Major League Soccer side a top job in Europe was something he would be open to.
“I don’t want this to be perceived that I want to go because I don’t want to leave. But, if the question is as simple as, ‘Are you ready to manage any teams in Europe?’ then I would say yes. I am ready,” Vieira told The Times.
“I think we’re all doing this job because one day we want to coach the biggest teams in Europe.”
Wenger won three league titles and seven FA Cups in his almost 22-year reign at Arsenal, and Vieira, who played under him for nearly a decade, said it was hard to understand the criticism aimed at the 68-year-old in recent seasons.
“I think it is hard with the way he has been treated,” Vieira said. “... Fans live in the moment but that’s the world we are living in.
“Arsene has been there for 22 years but how many times did he have the opportunity to go to coach bigger names than Arsenal yet never did because his priority was Arsenal? Sometimes fans forget that.”
Arsenal host Atletico Madrid in the first leg of their Europa League semi-final later on Thursday.
Reporting by Aditi Prakash in Bengaluru; Editing by Peter Rutherford