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Transfer Rater: Havertz, Sarr to Arsenal

Football Whispers
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Arsene Wenger: Staying at Arsenal for 22 years perhaps my biggest mistake

Former Arsenal midfielder Stewart Robson tries to read deeper into Arsene Wenger's regret about staying on as Gunners boss for too long.

Arsene Wenger says staying at Arsenal for 22 years may have been his biggest mistake and that he regrets sacrificing so much for the job.

Wenger told French radio station RTL in a wide-ranging interview that he may have been better off seeking out a new challenge sooner.

Wenger stepped down as the longest-serving manager in Europe in May, having held the Arsenal job since 1996.

Asked what his biggest mistake in his career was, Wenger said: "Perhaps staying at the same club for 22 years. I'm someone who likes new things, likes change. But I also like challenges. I was a little bit of a prisoner to my challenge each time."

Wenger added that he has yet to decide what to do in the future and that he may need another two to three months to figure it out.

And he said the sacrifices he had to make for so long was one of the hardest parts of being a manager.

"I regret having sacrificed everything I did because I realise I've hurt a lot of people around me. I've neglected a lot of people. I've neglected my family, I've neglected many people close to me," he said. "But deep down though, the obsessed man is selfish in his pursuit of what he loves. He misses out on a lot of other things. But it's a bone to chase at the same time.

"Often, I'm asked if Thierry Henry and Patrick Vieira will be good managers and I always answer yes. They have all the qualities; they are intelligent, they know football, they have excellent skillset, but do they want to sacrifice what needs to be sacrificed to do only that? It's an obsession which bounces around your head day and night.

"You wake up at 3 a.m. thinking, 'Should I play this one or that one? Is this way or that way the best to win this match?' It's a job that you never leave."

Wenger had been working as a pundit for beIN Sports during the World Cup in Russia, while new head coach Unai Emery has taken charge at Arsenal. The Frenchman said back in May that he already had plenty of job offers, but that he needed time to decide whether he wanted to remain a manager or take up a different kind of role. And apparently, he has yet to make up his mind.

Asked about what's next for him, Wenger said: "I haven't decided yet. I'm asking myself the same question! Do I keep doing what I've been doing, what I know? Or do I share all the knowledge I've accumulated over the years about people and sport in a different way? That is the question I need to answer in the next 2 to 3 months."

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