Arsene Wenger future: Arsenal legend Emmanuel Petit calls for Frenchman to become director of football

The Gunners are 11 points behind Premier League leaders Leicester City while trailing Barcelona in the Champions League

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The Independent Football

Emmanuel Petit has appeared to suggest Arsène Wenger should step aside as Arsenal manager and mentor a former player into the post he has held for almost 20 years as director of football.

Supporters of the North London club have become increasingly disillusioned with the Frenchman’s management this season as FA Cup and Capital One Cup exits have been worsened by dwindling fortunes in the Premier League and Champions League.

Petit, who lifted the title with Wenger in 1998, has called for his former boss to “share the place with someone else” in order to keep his legacy intact and aid the managerial rise of one of his former protégés. 

Speaking in Dublin on Tuesday, the 41-year-old said: “I am pretty sure he has to stay at the club but maybe it's time for him to open the door for something else as well. When I look at the former players from Arsenal, how many of them have their badges to manage a team?

“Dennis Bergkamp, Tony Adams, Patrick Vieira, many, many great players, they have their own statue in front of the stadium. I think Arsene... it's good to share the place with someone else and try to open the door to the former players.

“I think Arsenal has been missing something for ages, it's mental. They’ve got great players and the way they used to play, for me is one of the best in Europe. But playing well on the pitch doesn't mean you're going to win the title.”

Arsenal are currently 11 points behind leaders Leicester City, with a game in hand, and trail Barcelona by two away goals ahead of tonight’s European round-of-16 second leg at the Camp Nou.

“You can play badly as well but you win the game. One thing that's wrong with Arsenal is that you can see a lot of the players give up on the pitch. Mentally, I think they need to improve a lot but in terms of quality they have everything to win the title.

“I think Arsene has done a great job in the 20 years he has been there and I respect this very highly, but when you look at the title they won it was because they had great leaders in the team. They have great players but they are missing leaders and personality. If you want to win things, then you need to suffer.'

“I think he (Wenger) needs to be honest with them as well. If I was an Arsenal player, I would think to myself 'we lost the first leg 2-0, I haven't seen a team win 3-0 against Barcelona, it's impossible, how can we pretend to win against the best team in Europe when we can't win at home to Watford?'.

“Barcelona are living in their own world for the last four-five years, it's just like Spain. What they are doing is unbelievable, they have this magician with Messi but they have more magicians in the team now. The gap between Arsenal and Barcelona is huge, in terms of performances, titles, the way they are every time they come on the pitch. There is no team better than Barcelona.”