Arsenal's 5-1 battering at the hands of Bayern Munich has raised renewed questions about the long term future of Arsene Wenger.
The 67-year-old's powerful standing means he is still in control of his own destiny, as opposed to being moved out by the club's hierarchy, but with the Frenchman's current deal expiring this summer, there is a growing feeling that this could be the end of an era.
There has been plenty of money in support of the Frenchman leaving Arsenal this summer, with most firms now odds on that he departs before next season. Paddy Power are 8/11 (1.73) he leaves and Evens (2.0) that he remains in charge on the first day of the 2017/18 campaign.
Paddy Power are offering a market on where the 67-year-old, who insists he will remain in management next season, will go next and it appears a very open betting heat given the uncertainty about the timing of his potential departure.
The French national team is the current favourite, albeit a weak one at 9/2 (5.50). This is surely an outcome dependent upon Wenger signing an extension to keep him at the Emirates until at least 2018. Didier Deschamps led Les Blues to the Euro 2016 final and with the side in a commanding position to qualify for Russia next summer; it's a role that is very likely to remain filled for at least 18 more months.
With Monaco flying in Ligue 1 and the Champions League, the 5/1 (6.0) quote on Wenger returning to the club where he spent seven years in charge earlier in his career is perfectly feasible if a little improbable were he to leave at the end of the current season.
For that to become a viable option, their form would have to take an alarming dip for the position of Leonardo Jardim to come under scrutiny or, more likely, the 42-year-old could tempted elsewhere after an eye-catching campaign which could be a possibility if they're able to land a first domestic title since 2000.
The perilous position of Luis Enrique at Barcelona, who is expected to walk away from the club at the end of the current campaign, means that a vacancy at the Camp Nou could be the highest profile job available in the next few months and Wenger is 8/1 (9.0) to make the switch to Spain.
The club's approach with their last few appointments has been to target a younger manager though and with Wenger's advancing years, questions would surely be raised over quite how long the Frenchman would commit to compared to the likes of Jorge Sampaoli and Ronald Koeman who currently head the betting to replace Luis Enrique.
That said, due to the somewhat disappointing results both domestically and in the Champions League, especially with the upcoming presidential elections, a short term move can’t be ruled out but at 8/1 (9.0) there are probably enough doubts to pass over the price given the current situation.
One option where the length of contract is unlikely to be an issue is "Any Chinese Club" at 10/1 (11.0) with Paddy Power. Wenger spent two well paid years at Nagoya Grampus in Japan prior to his move to England and several high profile players have turned their back on European football for bumper pay packets in the Far East over the last few months.
Possibly the highest profile manager on the market should he leave Arsenal in the near future, he would surely have several offers from wealthy clubs looking to enhance their reputations, playing credentials and global appeal.
With a huge influx of money and his desire to keep working beyond the end of the current English season, a move to China would likely make Wenger the best paid coach in the world and could be a value bet at the current price of 10/1 (11.0). Even more so given that it's an option which is likely to remain viable throughout the next couple of years, so could still be settled as a winner even if a short term extension is negotiated at the Emirates before taking up another vacancy.
The England national team is also priced at 10/1 (11.0) but with Gareth Southgate only just being appointed as Sam Allardyce's permanent replacement, the FA are doubtful to make any other managerial changes until after the 2018 World Cup.
If Wenger was to leave this summer, which seems increasingly likely as the weeks pass by, he'd need to go back on his promise to remain in employment to see this pick settled as a winner and so it offers relatively little value compared to a switch to China, especially at the same price.
Any MLS club is a 16/1 (17.0) option and could be another avenue for a well-paid, short term appointment should Wenger prefer to test his skills against the likes of former player Patrick Vieira by managing on the other side of the Atlantic.
|Arsene Wenger to manage "Any Chinese Club" next at at 10/1 (11.0)|