Soccer-Arsenal would be 'delighted' to have Wenger back at the club, says Arteta

Soccer Football - Premier League - Arsenal v Watford - Emirates Stadium, London, Britain - November 7, 2021 Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta REUTERS/David Klein

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(Reuters) - Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta said on Thursday that he hopes to have former manager Arsene Wenger back at the Premier League club in some capacity in the future, as the Frenchman remains a respected figure among the staff.

Wenger left Arsenal in 2018 after a 22-year reign as manager. The 72-year-old -- currently working with world soccer governing body FIFA -- has since kept his distance, saying he did not want to look like he was still influencing matters.

"He would have a great time seeing the environment he can create around him when he's around this place, because of the respect, admiration and the love everybody at the club has for what he has done," Arteta told reporters.

"I'd like him to be much closer personally to me because it would be a great help for the club. Things take time and he has to dictate those timings.

"What I can say from my side and on behalf of everybody, is that we would be delighted to have him much closer."

Arteta said there were no new injury concerns ahead of Saturday's Premier League clash with bottom side Newcastle United.

The Spaniard added midfielder Granit Xhaka is ahead of schedule in his recovery from a knee injury and hopes to call on the Switzerland international before the end of the year.

Xhaka, 29, was initially sidelined for three months after sustaining damage to his knee ligament in September's derby win over Tottenham Hotspur.

"He's training and pushing himself and the staff so hard as he always does. He's in a good place, he's evolving well. I hope we can have him back before the end of the year," Arteta said.

Fifth-placed Arsenal will look to bounce back from last weekend's defeat at Liverpool and Arteta called on his players to rise to the challenge of competing with the league's best teams.

"We have to raise our level to compete with these teams and match how consistent they are every game, but also how consistent they are throughout the game. They dominate every area and that is why they're so successful," he added.

"We are really looking forward to the game. After a defeat, you want to put it right straight away."

(Reporting by Hritika Sharma and Rohith Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Alison Williams and Shrivathsa Sridhar)

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