Arsene Wenger will return to management for the first time since leaving Arsenal in 2018 when he takes charge of a Saudi Arabian super team in January.

The 71-year-old, who hasn’t taken another managerial role since he ended his legendary 22-year stint with the Gunners three years ago, will be in the dugout for the 2022 Riyadh Season Cup match against Lionel Messi’s PSG.

The Saudi side will consist of players from the Kingdom’s two biggest clubs – Al-Hilal and Al-Nassr – which will see Wenger lock horns with former Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino for the special one-off match next year.

On Sunday, the chairman of Saudi Arabia’s General Entertainment Authority, Turki al-Sheikh, confirmed Wenger’s return in a tweet which read: ‘The great international coach Arsene Wenger was signed to lead the stars of al-Hilal and al-Nasr against Paris Saint-Germain in the Riyadh Season Cup.’

The friendly encounter is a part of Saudi Arabia’s Riyadh season, which begins this month and runs through until March 2022.

The huge event will also see Barcelona take on Boca Juniors for the Maradona Cup in November in order to honour the late Argentina superstar, who died last year.

Wenger is currently working as FIFA’s Chief of Global Football Development and has been linked with several returns to the touchline since leaving Arsenal but none have come to fruition before now.

And while the Frenchman hasn’t featured much on our television screens apart from the odd punditry appearance here and there, he has still been making waves in the world of football.

As FIFA’s Chief of Global Football Development, Wenger wants to see a biennial World Cup but also mid-season internationals to be compartmentalised into just one or two windows rather than the current five.

Under one of the draft proposals from Wenger shown to FIFA’s member associations, the season would pause for a month in October for tournament qualifiers to be completed.

However, these radical new ideas have received criticism from managers and ex-players, with the likes of Gareth Southgate, Tyrone Mings and Thierry Henry all against the proposals.

Henry said: ‘I played four World Cups and [three] Euros and I came out of them shattered mentally.

‘And it’s not about the games I played in it, it’s the preparation for the World Cup, coming back from the World Cup after a season at your club.

‘So if you play that every two years, mentally it’s tough for a player.’

But while his ideas are still up for debate, it will be a welcome return to see Wenger back on the touchline.

Wenger, who joined Arsenal from Nagoya Grampus Eight all the way back in 1996 following stints at Nancy and Monaco, stunned players and staff by telling them about his departure completely out of the blue in 2018.

Wenger’s announcement divided Arsenal fans, with many thanking him for his 22 years in charge – while others wished him good riddance.

He did however win 10 major trophies during his time in north London and is remembered as one of the club’s greatest managers.


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