Is Arsene Wenger on his way to Russia? Shock reports link former Arsenal boss with Spartak Moscow job
Wenger, 69, has been out of management since leaving Arsenal in the summer of 2018, calling time on 22 years at the London club.
According to claims in Russia, the Frenchman will be offered a route back into coaching at struggling Spartak Moscow, where he would take over from embattled boss Oleg Kononov.
Sport Express claims that Spartak’s German CEO Tomas Zorn has already left for London, where he will put out feelers to assess whether Wenger would be willing to take the reins at the Moscow club.
Current Spartak boss Kononov is under fire after an uninspiring start to the season which has left the club sixth in the table and six points off the leaders.
Spartak failed to reach the Europa League group stage after being dumped out by Portuguese side Braga in qualifying, and lost their most recent game 2-1 at home to Ural in another insipid performance that left fans demanding Kononov’s exit.
Kononov stepped in following the sacking of popular Italian manager Massimo Carrera in 2018, but now appears to be on borrowed time.
Fans in attendance at Saturday’s defeat against Ural were heard chanting Carrera’s name, and the Italian – who previously served as assistant to Antonio Conte at Juventus – has said he is willing to return to the club he guided to the league title in 2017, ending a 16-year drought.
Spartak fans chanting 'A tutti! Avanti! Massimo Carrera!' pic.twitter.com/AImLUfjClK— Liam Tyler (@tyler_lj) September 14, 2019
But reports suggest that Wenger would be the prime target for Spartak, should Kononov be given his marching orders.
The Frenchman has largely restricted himself to media work since stepping away from Arsenal, and despite the disappointment of the latter part of his time at the Gunners he is not likely to be short of potential suitors – not least former club Monaco, who have made a poor start to the season under Leonardo Jardim.
Given the possiblity of the Monaco job also potentially becoming available, as well as Wenger's reputation and standing in the game, it would seem a stretch for Wenger to step in at a club languishing in the middle of the Russian table, although Spartak boast impressive infrastructure with their 45,000-seater Otkritie Arena home, which hosted matches during last year's World Cup.
They are historically the biggest and most successful club in Russia, with 22 Soviet/Russian league titles to their name.
During the summer they saw the departure of key players such as Cape Verdean striker Ze Luis – who left for Porto – and Brazilian midfielder Fernando, who headed to China to play for Beijing Guoan.
They have brought in young faces such as Jordan Larsson – son of Celtic legend Henrik – Guus Til from Alkmaar, and most recently Alex Kral from Slavia Prague, as well as German World Cup winner Andre Schurrle on loan from Borussia Dortmund.
But results and performances continue to be disappointing, leading to Zorn’s supposed mission to London to test the waters with Wenger.