Arsene Wenger is set to speak to Bayern Munich about a return to management, sources have told ESPN FC.
Wenger was not the first choice but he is now the leading candidate and will speak with Bayern CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge later this week to discuss the position.
However, Bayern, who have seen Ralf Rangnick, Erik ten Hag and Thomas Tuchel all rule themselves out of the running, could extend Hansi Flick’s tenure as caretaker manager in order to buy them time.
When asked about Wenger ahead of the club’s Champions League game against Olympiakos on Tuesday, Bayern sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic said: “I won’t talk about any names.”
Wenger himself addressed the rumours on Wednesday, telling BeIN Sports that: “I’d never refuse to talk to Bayern Munich, because I know the people who have led the club for 30 years and I was nearly going to Bayern a long, long time ago. That’s all I can say.”
“I just want to do what I like now. I have not decided yet if I will go back on the pitch or not,” Wenger continued. “I’m quite happy what I am doing but I miss the pitch as well, so it’s a difficult decision for me at the moment.”
Wenger, who has been out of work since ending his 22-year reign at Arsenal in 2018, said “of course” when asked about his interest in replacing Niko Kovac at the Bundesliga champions and is keen on a return to management.
The 70-year-old has been ready to take over at Bayern for months and was prepared to step in last season when Kovac was under pressure.
Sources have told ESPN FC that Wenger, who could start work immediately and is fluent in German, is confident he can make the team better, improve the results and the style of play.
Meanwhile, Rangnick has followed Ajax boss Ten Hag and PSG coach Tuchel in distancing himself from the position.
“No. Ralf Rangnick is not available,” his agent Marc Kosicke told Bild on Wednesday. “We don’t believe Rangnick has what Bayern are currently looking for. And that’s why it does not make sense to hold concrete talks.”
Former RB Leipzig head coach and sporting director Rangnick took on a new role within the Red Bull system as the Head of Sport and Development in the summer.
Speaking on Tuesday, ahead of PSG’s Champions League game against Club Brugge, Tuchel said: “It doesn’t interest me because I’m PSG coach.
“I have a contract and I can’t think for one minute about other clubs.”
On Monday, Ten Hag responded to a question about staying with Ajax for remainder of the season by saying: “Yes, I can confirm that.
“I feel a strong connection with my team and everyone at Ajax. I can confirm that I stay at Ajax this season.”
Former Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri has also been linked but ESPN FC reported last month that he would take a sabbatical from management this season.
ESPN FC’s Germany correspondent Stephan Uersfeld contributed to this story.