According to The Daily Mirror, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger could swap jobs with PSG's Carlo Ancelotti in the summer. The same report claims Ancelotti would be tempted by the prospect of succeding Wenger at Arsenal. What would be a highly controversial switch, could actually suit both managers.
The pair find themselves under pressure and underappreciated. For Wenger, this is becoming an annual issue that is only growing in intensity. Ancelotti meanwhile, is forced to deal with the natural expectation that comes from being backed up by Qatari billions.
Taking a look at Wenger leaving for PSG first, it could be the easiest way for the Frenchman to salavage his remaining legacy with the Gunners. Despite revamping the club's training methods, changing the way they scout players in the market and helping build a new stadium, Wenger is besieged by calls for him to walk away. His achievements transforming the North London club from one commonly associated with chants of "boring, boring" to one envied for its stylish football, are fast becoming a hollow memory.
Wenger's accomplishments of raising three Premier League titles and four FA Cups, are treated with an almost sneering derision by growing numbers of a fan base with a "what have you done for me lately?" attitude. The hard work he has done blancing the books during the stadium move and trying to develop through youth, is often met with contempt by those who demands trophies every year and big-money signings.
Wenger has been noted for respecting his contracts, but the time may come that he might have his fill of such ingratitude. If that is the case, an offer from PSG, one The Mirror claims could reach £10 million per year, would surely be tempting. The problem for Wenger is that if he stays on at Arsenal and struggles to lift them from that third or fourth-placed bracket, his tenure in charge will be remembered more for his barren years, than his frutiful ones.
Jumping ship back to his native France, might initially sting, but at least some of his early Arsenal glories would stay intact. It would also open the door for a replacement, something many critics would feel is long overdue. Enter Ancelotti who would have his own motivations for striking good at Arsenal.
The former AC Milan manager enjoyed a highly successful stint at Chelsea from 2009-11. He won the double with a team that actually played the kind of expansive, attacking football that ruthless Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich often covets. Ancelott's Chelsea netted 103 league goals as part of a 09/10 campaign that saw them lift the league and FA Cup double.
He was unfairly dumped at the end of the following season, simply for finishing second to Manchester United. A return to the Premier League and London no less, might suit Ancelotti, as he seeks to remind Abramovich of what he has been missing. For their part, Arsenal would be getting a savvy coach, who favours the kind of fluid and attractive football Wenger has made a Gunners trademark.
Ancelotti's resume also includes a fine record in the UEFA Champions League. He won the competition twice with Milan and took the Rossoneri to three finals overall. Europe's top prize has eluded Arsenal throughout their lengthy history. The best Wenger has managed has been an appearance in the final in 2006.
Of course, any move would involve Wenger turning his back on Arsenal and the work still left to be done. Having recently given fresh deals to six British youngsters, Wenger is clearly attemtping to establish a new, long-term core to his Arsenal squads. That could give the 63-year-old renewed vigour to return Arsenal to winning major trophies.
The question is, does Wenger still have the time and the patience of the fans, to embark on another youth-based project? If Arsenal fail to land silverware this campaign, it will be their eighth trophyless season. Even with the boon of consistent Champions League qualification, that's a blemish on any top manager's CV.
However, Ancelotti's recent record of delivering silver is far from exemplary. He was pipped to the Ligue 1 title by Montpellier last season and is currently third this season. That's even with the seemingly endless resources at his disposal. Those riches also prompt another key question, would the usually financially reticent Wenger spend PSG's chunks of cash?
After all, this is a manager who has long championed fiscal prudence as the sound way to run a modern footballing giant. However, PSG's mega-rich owner, Nasser al-Khelaifi, a friend of Wenger's, is hugely ambitious. He has alreayd lured the likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Thiago Silva to the club. Would the prospect of finally being able to comfortably afford the likes of Edinson Cavani, really appeal to the shrewd team-builder in Wenger?
This also begs the question, what would Ancelotti do to the Frenchman's youth policy? The Italian boss has often favoured experience over potential, having won the game's major prizes with veteran cores at both Milan and Chelsea.
It's obvious that the idea of a job swap between Wenger and Ancelotti provokes more questions than answers. What is clear is that both are exceptional coaches who would surely succeed at thheir new posts. Maybe afeter guiding Arsenal through their most tempestuous transition, Wenger has done all he can at the club. While that's a sad reality, it could be that the timing is right for a fresh approach.
After chiding under the wrath of two uber-rich, yet overbearing owners, Ancelotti might relish the idea of working with Arsenal's comparitively timid board. Maybe this fantastic-sounding switch would be the perfect tonic for both embattled managers after all.