Arsene Wenger has admitted he is not yet ready to return to football after being linked with the manager’s job at Newcastle.
The 69-year-old Frenchman, who ended his 22-year reign as Arsenal boss in May last year, has been out of the game since and is one of a series of names to have been mentioned as the Magpies look for a replacement for Rafael Benitez who will leave the club on Sunday.
Asked if there was a chance he would be back on the sidelines this season, he said: “Not in the near future, no. I still am not ready to go back. I’m more open now than a year ago to talk about that, but I cannot tell you that in the next two, three days, I will go into management again.
“I took a little bit of distance and I enjoyed it. I worked for 35 years without any interruptions, so I think I deserved a little rest.”
Wenger worked in France and Japan before his hugely successful spell with the Gunners, which yielded three Premier League titles and seven FA Cups, and hinted that he might consider working in a different country.
“I would prefer to try another country,” he added, “although my preferred time was in England because the Premier League is the place to be at the moment.
“But, for me, it’s very difficult because I have been for so long at the same club. But why not? I still need a bit of time to pass and then maybe make the decision.”
Wenger is the latest established manager to distance himself from the Newcastle speculation with sources close to Jose Mourinho having also played down the link.
Managing director Lee Charnley is currently drawing up a shortlist – potential candidates are thought to include Rangers boss Steven Gerrard, Manchester City’s number two Mikel Arteta and former Feyenoord manager Giovanni van Bronckhorst – although his task is complicated by the ongoing uncertainty over the club’s future ownership.