Wenger rules out national service

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The Independent Football

Arsene Wenger admits he has no intentions of stepping into international management, a position the Frenchman concedes "scares" him.

Wenger has just less than a year left to run on his current deal with Arsenal, and hopes to reach an agreement with the Gunners to extend that stay soon. The 54-year-old former Monaco coach has been linked with the French national team job before, which became vacant this summer after Jacques Santini moved to Tottenham.

However, Wenger, who also coached in Japan, said yesterday: "I don't have the spirit of a national coach and I never planned it in my career. In a great club like Arsenal my role is so large I would be scared to be confronted by the restrictions of a national coach or to have a feeling of powerlessness. In a national team, if you don't have a great generation of players there is no miracle possible, whereas in a club there is always a solution to your problems."

Talks are continuing over extending Wenger's contract with the Premier League champions and yesterday he reiterated his intention to stay in north London. "My contract with Arsenal ends in June 2005," he said, "but the negotiations have already started [for an extension] and things will get sorted out fast.

"There is no doubt, I will stay with Arsenal. I have no desire of changing club and neither do Arsenal. I am fully dedicated to this club. I started something with it and I have no intention to abandon it on the way."

Wenger also pledged to continue taking full advantage of Dennis Bergkamp's blistering start to the season. The 35-year-old has been in mesmerising form this season, helping them to victories over Everton and Middlesbrough.

"Dennis has enjoyed good preparation for this season - he did not miss one training session over the summer," Wenger said. "You use those players who are in top form and at the moment Dennis is on fire. I have seen some great spells from him and he is playing very well right now. He is in exceptional shape - sharper than last year during the same period. But we must accept his age and understand his recovery time will be longer."

Bergkamp extended his stay at Highbury by a further year during the summer and Wenger admits his presence has proved invaluable this season. The departure of Martin Keown and Ray Parlour has denied Arsenal two experienced players and Bergkamp has been instrumental in softening the blow of their departure.

It is a role Bergkamp - who will have completed a decade at the club when the current campaign ends - could also play next season as Wenger refuses to rule out another new contract. "I can't say this is Dennis's last season," he said. "I will make a decision on him in May. At his age you have to accept short-term contracts. I would never have thought in 1998 that he would still be playing like he is now. We like stability and experience at Arsenal and his presence is useful.

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