Robert Pires believes Arsene Wenger may be turned off the England job by a lack of hands-on management.
The Arsenal boss, who celebrated 20 years in charge of the Gunners at the weekend, has been widely tipped as a favourite to become the next permanent England manager when his current deal at the Emirates Stadium expires in the summer.
Gareth Southgate has stepped into the role on a temporary basis after it was vacated by Sam Allardyce following a stint of just 67 days and one game in charge, with his tenure ending acrimoniously as his contract was terminated over controversial remarks he made to undercover reporters from the Daily Telegraph.
But Wenger, who has won three Premier League titles and a record-equalling six FA Cups during his time at Arsenal, has said he could “one day” manage England – while Football Association chief executive Martin Glenn said of the Frenchman: “he’d fit the criteria perfectly” in the search for Allardyce’s long-term successor.
But Pires, who played under Wenger for six years at Arsenal and remains a close confidant as he still trains and coaches at the club’s London Colney training base, reckons the 66-year-old would be put off by the amount of time he would be without his players as an international boss.
“Of course I see him and speak to him every morning but we don’t talk about this,” he said.
“A lot of people want to see Arsene Wenger as the manager of England but he has a contract with Arsenal, I don’t know what happens at the end of the season but I understand the fans in England, they need a manager like Arsene Wenger, he is a great person and a great manager.
“The situation is simple, Wenger is the manager for Arsenal. I know him, he wants to go to the pitch every morning.
“This is the most important (thing for him). If he takes this job, it’s not the same. So, for the moment I cannot imagine Wenger work for England. This is my opinion.
“I see Arsene. He love the pitch every morning. This is like an obsession, it’s a passion. You know manager for the national team is not really the same because he loves football. This is my opinion.”
Pires: Wenger would need to adapt
Pires, 42, said Wenger would have to adapt if he took the role but – speaking at the launch of the Star Sixes indoor football tournament – he admitted he would rather see his compatriot stay put at Arsenal.
“If he takes this job, he needs to adapt. The new job. The new challenge,” he added.
‘If you ask me, I hope he continues with Arsenal because since 20 years he built something at Arsenal, he won a lot of titles. I think Arsenal need Arsene Wenger.
“Arsene Wenger loves Arsenal and this is the last season because his contract finishes, I don’t know what happens but it would be a good opportunity for England, I don’t know (if it would be) for Arsene Wenger.
“It is not the same job when you are manager of one club like Arsenal or for the country, seriously I don’t know what he wants for the future.”