Arsene Wenger is after more work and less play after quitting Arsenal this summer

Football’s most sprightly pensioner cannot imagine life without his daily dose of training-ground tonic.

So even though he is being reluctantly ushered towards the Arsenal exit this week, he still refuses to contemplate retirement.

And while he has finally opened the door to an upstairs job, his clear preference for next season is to remain in management.

Wenger certainly has no intention to spend the next few months sunning himself by the side of an exotic swimming pool while sipping a cocktail.

He still recalls those infamous photos of him on a water slide and concedes: “I don’t look very good on the beach.”


But the subject of his next move is no laughing matter. And on the eve of his penultimate game as Arsenal boss at Leicester tonight, Wenger declared: “People look at your age and make such an issue of it that it becomes a bit of discrimination.

“They don’t really look at how you work and perform. They just say, ‘Oh, he is old’.


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“I can understand that attitude because I thought the same way when I was young.

“But I keep myself fit, I run every day and I still play football if I can.

“I don’t join in with the players because they are a bit too quick for me but I play in staff games.

“And if I was being really objective, then I would pick myself every week!”

The pencil-thin Frenchman still tips the scales at 75kg, exactly the same weight as when he first arrived at Arsenal in that ill-fitting suit all those years ago. He revealed: “You know, I didn’t miss a single training session in 22 years.

“I never stayed in my office. I am out there every day because I still enjoy that and I know it is something I will miss.”

It is an open secret that French billionaires Paris Saint-Germain are keen to make Wenger their new director of football.

And that is not the only job offer he has received to work behind the scenes. “General manager?” he asked. “That is what I have to decide.

“My spontaneous reaction is to remain in day-to-day management but maybe, with a bit of distance, I will think, ‘No, perhaps it’s time to change a little bit of direction’.

“I honestly can’t give you an answer at the moment because I don’t know.

“My relationship with PSG president Nasser Al-Khelaifi is more based on my work for his media company.

“When he started his job with beIN Sports when he was a young boy, I was his first contact, his first signing.

“That’s why we have a good relationship and I was always with beIN. But that doesn’t influence any decisions about my future.

“I will continue to work for as long as I want to but I don’t know how long that will be.

“I have always liked the English saying ‘you must live every day like it is your last’.

“Because one day you will be right.”

Wenger has been personally touched by the news that his old sparring partner Sir Alex Ferguson is currently recuperating from emergency brain surgery.

It is the fear of descending into old age and its subsequent health problems which continues to drive him forward rather than resting on his laurels.

And while clearly he has his views on who should replace him at the Emirates, he is keeping his thoughts very much to himself.

He insisted: “I know that all the names that have been mentioned are very competent but I don’t want to come out publicly for any of them.

“If I go for this or that one, it puts him under pressure straight away, so it’s better if I stay neutral. If the club wants my advice I’ll give it to them and I’d recommend that they keep some of the current coaching staff.

“But the people who come in will also want their own staff, so it’s a matter of finding the right adjustment.

“Personally, I always tried to have a local person like Pat Rice and Steve Bould, who know the culture, the habits and traditions of the club and make sure you don’t make mistakes.

“But that’s not my decision. So like all other Arsenal fans I will wait until they’ve made the decision and then support the guy in doing well.”

When Wenger does finally clear his desk at Arsenal’s training ground at London Colney on Saturday, he is not going to need a big lorry to help him move his belongings.

He admitted: “My office is quite empty. I gave most things away so I will not have a lot to take out.

“This has been a fantastic period for me but I always look forward rather than backwards.

“So now I have to turn the page and go on for the next challenge.”

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