Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger insists he would rather sign a new contract and prolong his 21-year stay in north London than take up the vacant manager's at Barcelona in the summer.
Wenger’s current deal expires in the summer and he is yet to indicate whether he will take up Arsenal’s offer of a new contract, which has remained on the table despite growing criticism of the Frenchman.
But he has made clear that he would choose staying at the Gunners over the chance to succeed Luis Enrique at Camp Nou, who this week announced that he will leave the Spanish giants at the end of the season.
Wenger said: “My preference has always been the same and will remain the same. I am not looking for jobs in other clubs. I am focused on me, getting to the next level, trying to improve and always trying to see what you can do better and reinvent yourself. That’s what I try to do.”
The 67-year-old, who previously pledged to clarify his future in either March or April, has vowed to remain in club management next season if he concludes that his Arsenal tenure has run its course.
But he added: “I have been here for 20 years and I had many times the opportunity to leave so I don’t think I have to convince you that my preference has always been Arsenal. But of course I am objective and lucid enough to make the right decision for myself and the club as well. The club is free to make the decision it wants and I will respect that.”
Wenger, whose team visit top-six rivals Liverpool in the Premier League on Saturday evening, played down suggestions that announcing a manager’s imminent departure, as at Barca, could harm results in the interim.
“I believe that the players have their targets, the team targets and I don’t think that can be detrimental,” he said. “It can be positive as well.”