Celtic boss Brendan Rodgers distances himself from Arsenal links

Bookmakers’ favourite Brendan Rodgers has said there is “nothing in” links to him replacing Arsene Wenger as Arsenal boss.

Wenger announced his intentions to leave the Emirates this summer on Friday, ending a 22-year stay in north London.

Rodgers – who has previous Premier League experience with Swansea and Liverpool – leads the betting and is on the brink of winning a second-straight title as Celtic manager.

Brendan Rodgers is happy at Celtic
Brendan Rodgers is happy at Celtic (Andrew Milligan/PA)

But the Northern Irishman says he is happy on and off the field in Glasgow.

He told BBC Radio Scotland’s Sportsound programme: “There’s nothing really in it. I have always said I’m extremely happy here. I have three years left on my contract. I am loving every minute of being at Celtic from a professional perspective but also my life up here.

“I have a number of years left as a manager. I am 45, I probably look a lot older but, 45, and I’m enjoying my position here. It’s a huge privilege for me to manage Celtic. It’s a huge club with pressure and that’s all I concentrate on.

“Arsenal is a fantastic club, very much similar to Celtic in terms of the traditions and values it has as a club, you can’t deny that.

“It’s a fantastic club but, for me, my only focus is on Celtic and doing the very best I can for them.”

Rodgers’ comments came after ex-Arsenal striker Ian Wright claimed Wenger was sacked rather than choosing to go himself.

The Gunners have struggled in the Premier League this campaign and face a second season of finishing outside of the top four.

Wenger has come in for criticism from fans in the last year and Wright, who won the title during the Frenchman’s early years at Arsenal, believes the club took the decision to end his long stay.

Some Arsenal fans have railed against Wenger
Some Arsenal fans have railed against Wenger (Simon Cooper/EMPICS)

“Arsene Wenger is a man of principle, honesty and integrity – that is why I am convinced he has been sacked and not resigned,” Wright said in The Sun.

“For all the vitriol and abuse thrown at him, Arsene has never been a man to walk out before the end of a contract.

“It is a sad situation that it’s come to this and I don’t suppose we will ever find out who is responsible, because they will hide behind each other.

“One day he is doing a press conference with no hint of this, the next he’s gone. It doesn’t add up.”

Whether it be Rodgers or someone else, chief executive Ivan Gazidis has admitted replacing Wenger is not possible.

“I have often said (replacing Wenger) is the biggest challenge we face,” he said.

“In the coming months the world will see the unity and power of this football club, and the people within it.

“We are not going to find a replacement for Arsene Wenger – we have to find a new path forward.

“I don’t think the club has ever been better prepared for that decision. Now it is time to look forward and I think we can do that with confidence.”

Patrick Vieira is a hero at Arsenal
Patrick Vieira is a hero at Arsenal (PA)

The likes of Massimiliano Allegri of Juventus and former Chelsea and Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti have also been linked to the post.

Patrick Vieira, the former Arsenal captain now managing New York City, has also been mentioned, but he played it cool when asked by radio station WNYE.

“I spent nine years at Arsenal which makes the club really special for me,” he said. “But that is not enough to coach the team. I am always flattered to hear my name linked. That is good for your ego, but at the same time, I am happy here.”

Gazidis would not be drawn on any targets to replace Wenger but revealed the criteria he will be looking for from any potential candidates.

“It is important to me that we continue the football values that Arsene has instilled in the club,” he added.

“I want to see somebody who can continue that for our fans, and our fans want to see that.

“Somebody who will continue to play exciting, progressive football that gets people interested and excited in the games we play.”

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Football Paradise Staff Reporter

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