Wenger: I want to reinvent myself at Arsenal not Barca
Arsene Wenger has outlined his burning desire to "reinvent" himself at Arsenal next season - even if Barcelona did make him an offer - but is also adamant that he will be "objective" in deciding whether he should extend his contract.
Although Jorge Sampaoli and Ernesto Valverde are front-runners to succeed Luis Enrique at Barcelona, Wenger was approached for the job in 2001 and has turned down numerous other chances to leave Arsenal, including a recent £30m-a-year offer from China.
Wenger is now 67 but will not retire this summer even after 37 consecutive years in football management. The Arsenal manager explained why he wants coaching to remain his life's work.
Aggravation "Basically you get 90 per cent aggravation and 10 per cent top satisfaction and you have to give everything in your life for that," he said. "It's a sacrifice of your life. You have to be ready. That's what I always ask all the young people who want to go into this job: 'Are you ready to sacrifice your life?' It's like a priest. You're a football priest."
So what makes him want to continue into his third decade at one club? "I am a specialist in masochism," he said, smiling.
"I believe as well that this job allowed me to get to the next level as a human being; to develop my strengths in what makes a human being great. To get the best out of people."
Wenger wants to stay at Arsenal - the "club of my life" - for several more years but friends suspect that he is currently minded to leave unless his team produce a strong finish to the season.
Wenger, having said he is likely to decide around "March or April", confirmed that no decision had been reached. He was asked also whether the imminent vacancy at Barcelona would be of interest. "No," he said.
"My preference has always been the same and will remain the same. Of course I am not looking for jobs in other clubs or jobs of other people. I am focused on me, getting to the next level, trying to improve.
"I think competent managers always try to improve and are always trying to see what you can do better and reinvent yourself."
Asked what he meant by always having "the same" preference, Wenger said: "I have been here for 20 years and I had many times the opportunity to leave so I don't think I have to convince you that my preference has always been Arsenal.
"But I am objective and lucid enough to make the right decision for myself and the club. The club is free to make the decision it wants and I will respect that."
There is a theory that Wenger's decision has already been made - and that he will not communicate it for fear of distracting his players - but he was adamant yesterday that it would not necessarily be negative for a manager to pre-announce their departure. (© Daily Telegraph, London)