Arsene Wenger: Arsenal manager says he had doubts over future

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Wenger, who has been in charge of Arsenal for 21 years, is the longest serving manager in Europe

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger says he “hesitated” over signing a new contract last season because he doubted whether he was “capable of leading the club”.

Wenger agreed a two-year deal in May, a month before his contract expired.

On French TV programme Telefoot, he said there were “personal reasons” behind the decision to delay extending his 21-year reign at the Gunners.

But he added: “I’ve been there for so long that you always wonder, can you still take the team to the next level?”

Arsenal finished fifth in the Premier League last season – the first time they have finished outside the top four since Wenger joined in 1996 – before beating Chelsea to win the FA Cup.

Wenger’s side began their new league campaign with a 4-3 victory at home to Leicester, before losing 1-0 at Stoke and 4-0 at Liverpool.

“I’ve been at Arsenal many years and last season we struggled a lot,” the 67-year-old Frenchman said.

“This year we won our first game, we weren’t as good in the second match and then we had a catastrophic performance.

“But now we have to recover and, as always in a time of crisis, you have to win your next game.”

Wenger was also asked about Arsenal’s transfer deadline-day bid for 21-year-old Monaco midfielder Thomas Lemar.

A fee in the region of £90m was reportedly agreed, but Wenger revealed the player “decided to stay at Monaco”.

‘Arsene Who?’ – Wenger remembers joining Arsenal

Asked if he planned to return with another attempt to sign the France international, Wenger said: “Yes. I think he’s a player who has great quality.”

He also said he had wanted to sign France striker Kylian Mbappe, who joined Paris St-Germain on loan, with a permanent 180m euro (£165.7m) transfer set to be completed next season.

“Well, 180m is a bit too high for us,” said Wenger, who described the 18-year-old as “the next Pele”.

Yes or no?

Wenger was asked several questions to which he could only reply ‘yes’ or ‘no’.

Q: Could you ever coach another club?

Wenger: Yes.

Q: Have you had contact with PSG?

Wenger: Yes.

Q: Would you swap all your trophies for one Champions League?

Wenger: No.

Q: But not having won it really bothers you?

Wenger: No.

Q: Can you win league this year?

Wenger: Yes.

Q: Are you disappointed with your transfer window?

Wenger: No.

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