Arsene Wenger seems likely to extend his stay at the Emirates Stadium, but has he already decided on his replacement?
Wenger, now 64, has delayed contract talks until after the Gunners have navigated their way through the Champions League group stage, as he didn't want speculation over his future to overshadow Arsenal's incredible start to the season. The Arsenal board are reportedly confident that Wenger will choose to stay in North London, but the delay has them sweating somewhat – particularly with persistent interest from Paris Saint-Germain.
The Frenchman hasn't managed in his homeland since he was sacked by Monaco in 1994, but has been regularly linked with a move to PSG ever since they were funded by the Qatar Sports Investment in 2011. The allure of money, support and being based in one of the finest cities in the world has yet to affect Wenger, whilst rumours suggested that PSG only offered manager Laurent Blanc a one year deal last summer so that they could target Wenger in 2014.
It does, however, seem that Wenger – much like Sir Alex Ferguson did when Manchester United appointed David Moyes – will have a large input on who will succeed him. Despite Borussia Dortmund's Jurgen Klopp currently marked as the bookies favourite to replace Wenger, it appears the Frenchman has earmarked one of his former Nagoya Grampus Eight players as the man to take the reins.
Dragan Stojkovic, the current manager of Nagoya Grampus in Japan, has received much praise from Wenger, even going as far as to say that he would like to see Stojkovic in the dugout at the Emirates Stadium.
"I would love Stojkovic to be my successor, there are a hundred reasons for that," Wenger said in 2011, ''Our ideas are the same and we both strive for perfect football. I knew he was going to have teams playing attacking football with many passes. He has done that, showing he will be a great coach. I told him that if he could transmit his football imagination to his players he would fly high."
Wenger also declared that he and Stojkovic still spend time with each other, with the Serbian travelling to meet his master regularly.
"Dragan comes to London at least once a year," said Wenger. "We meet up, chat and try to outsmart each other. It's a great achievement for him to have won a championship. I was a coach in Japan for two years and didn't manage it even though I had Stojkovic, who was the best player in the league, in my team."
The 48 year old may not be a household name in Britain, but having won the Manager of the Year award after guiding Nagoya Grampus to the J-League title in 2010, Stojkovic is highly regarded in Asia. However, with Arsenal now harbouring title ambitions, would the appointment of a manager with no experience outside of Japan appease the fans who have been starved of trophies in recent years?
With Wenger likely to sign his new deal, any decision over his replacement is a long way off, but having vocally supported Stojkovic, would the Arsenal board ignore his recommendation when the time comes for Wenger to leave?
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