Arsenal great Patrick Vieira told the Times he is ready to coach “any side in Europe” and has been backed as the perfect candidate to succeed Arsene Wenger by former teammate Sol Campbell.
Vieira has repeatedly been linked with the Arsenal job since Wenger announced last week that he is stepping down, but the former midfielder has insisted he has had no contact from Arsenal and that it would be difficult to leave his current role coaching New York City FC.
But he also made it clear that he’s ready for a return to Europe.
“It’s an honour to be mentioned with Arsenal,” Vieira said. “It was somewhere I spent nine years and I love the club. I played my best football there and made my name in the game. I am always going to have a deeper relationship with Arsenal. That [alone] is not enough to coach that team, but I’m ready to coach any side in Europe.”
Vieira is regarded as a longshot for the Arsenal job, with more experienced managers such as Luis Enrique, Massimiliano Allegri and Leonardo Jardim touted as front-runners.
Wenger has said Vieira has the potential to be Arsenal manager one day and said on Wednesday that it would be “even better” if the club appointed a former player.
Vieira, though, said he was not sure if he could leave his job at NYCFC in the middle of the MLS season.
“If the call came, it would be really difficult,” Vieira said. “It would be difficult because we will be in the middle of the season. And, like every time I’ve been approached by any teams, I’m sitting with the guys from the [City Football Group] and will let them know. They will make the decision because I’m under contract.”
Campbell, meanwhile, told Football London that Arsenal should take a chance on his former teammate.
“I think they should see if they can promote from within,” Campbell said. “It could be someone who has played for the club and is managing now or has aspirations of managing Arsenal and would love to take that opportunity.
“[Mikel] Arteta has gone to Manchester City and has gained fantastic experience, but for me, someone like Patrick would be perfect — and he’s great buddies with Dennis Bergkamp, so for me, to have those two guys at the helm, I think that could be a really good combination.”
Mattias is ESPN FC’s Arsenal correspondent. Follow him on Twitter: @MattiasKaren.