Patrick Vieira's speculated return to the Premier League to join Manchester City would "surprise" the player's former mentor Arsene Wenger, yet the Arsenal manager believes the Inter midfielder could still be an effective force in England.
Vieira, 33, allegedly has no shortage of admirers, as Ligue 1 powerhouse Olympique Lyonnais are also believed to be courting his signature, however, it appears Roberto Mancini is ahead in the race to land the three-time Scudetto winner.
Wenger had also been linked with a swoop for his former captain, but the astute coach ruled out a mid-season acquisition as he feels he has a collection of younger midfielders who can fulfill the service that Vieira provides.
"I will respect Patrick forever for what he has done and what he has achieved here [at Arsenal]," Wenger explained to the Manchester Evening News.
"We have young players in his position and are not in a real need to bring players in this position."
He continued: "I was surprised it was Manchester City, because there were more talks about other clubs, but it is a good opportunity for him.
"I believe he will still be very effective in the Premier League because he has been injury free for three or four months and that is what he needed."
Vieira was the last Arsenal captain to guide the club to silverware. The inspirational leader collected a hat-trick of Premier League winners' medals, as well as four FA Cups.
Alan Dawson, Goal.com UK