Arsene Wenger: Arsenal must be bold in new manager search - Ivan Gazidis

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Arsenal in a better place thanks to Wenger - Gazidis

Arsenal need to be "open-minded, brave and bold" in their search to replace Arsene Wenger as manager, says chief executive Ivan Gazidis.

The Frenchman will leave the club at the end of the season, bringing to an end his near 22-year reign as manager.

Former Chelsea boss Carlo Ancelotti has already declared an interest, while Celtic say they would allow Brendan Rodgers to talk to Arsenal.

"If they were interested, it would give me pleasure," said Ancelotti, 58.

"But at the moment that's it. My future depends on possibilities and projects that are presented to me, not just from me," added the former AC Milan, Real Madrid, Paris St-Germain and Bayern Munich coach.

BBC Sport understands that Ancelotti would be keen on recruiting former Italy international Andrea Pirlo as an assistant.

Wenger, 68, won three Premier League titles and seven FA Cups, including the Double in 1998 and 2002.

His former assistant Pat Rice believes the Frenchman will carry on in the game.

"He won't go out and retire because football is his life," Rice told BBC Radio 5 live.

Gazidis said the search for Wenger's successor will begin immediately.

"You don't find a replacement for Arsene Wenger, you find a new path forward," he said.

"The process begins today and this club has to rise to the challenge. The most important thing is to make the right appointment - not a quick appointment.

"When Arsene was appointed, I don't think he was on many people's radar. That doesn't mean we have to repeat that but it does mean we have to be bold and get the person we believe is the right person."

Gazidis on the future

Regarding Wenger's replacement, Gazidis said Arsenal do not want to lose the "qualities and values" the Frenchman has brought to the club over the past 22 years.

"Tomorrow we have to start thinking about how we move forward. We are going to take what Arsene has given us and continue the values he has instilled.

"It's going to be a condensed summer with the World Cup in the middle of it. Having clarity sooner is better.

"We want someone who plays progressive, exciting football that gets people interested and excited in games we play.

"Another significant piece is how the candidate represents the club and it must be someone who gives youth a chance."

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On Wenger's legacy

Gazidis said Wenger made Arsenal famous with the style of football he instilled, and inspired people he worked with through his "understanding and empathy".

"Arsene earned his position at this club over 22 years. I don't think there will be other managers who will have that authority at the top of the game at the biggest clubs.

"It's still the most important employee any club has but it would be unrealistic to think anyone comes in with the breadth and scope Arsene has.

"He changed the game, set a totally new standard, a new ambition, not just to win but to win while achieving perfection - to make art out of football. He was always brave enough to be true to that ambition.

"The decision had to happen at some point. I don't think the club has ever been better prepared for it. Now it's time to look forward. He leaves us in a very strong position to look forward."

On Wenger announcing his departure now

The chief executive said the timing of the decision gives both parties time to plan for the future.

"I have often said replacing Arsene is the biggest challenge we face. In the coming months, the world will see the unity and power of this football club, and the people within it.

"People are talking wonderfully about what Arsene has done for Arsenal and the wider world of football. His achievements are extraordinary and many will not be repeated.

"There is a widespread affection from Arsenal fans and people right across sphere of football. He will get a send-off the world will take notice of."

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