Patrick Vieira says he was flattered by Arsene Wenger describing him as a future Arsenal boss and admits he wants to manage one of his former clubs.
Vieira has just concluded his first season as a manager in European football, leading Nice to a seventh-placed finish in Ligue 1 with one of the youngest teams in France.
He had previously coached at Manchester City and spent two-and-a-half years in the United States in charge of Major League Soccer side New York City.
Wenger – who joined the Gunners at the same time as Vieira in 1996 – praised his fellow Frenchman last month for constructing his career “intelligently and patiently” and said he saw the 42-year-old as coaching Arsenal in the future.
“I’m really privileged to have worked under Arsene and him saying that is really flattering,” Vieira said.
“If I manage Arsenal one day I will take him for dinner and I will pay the bill!
“He didn’t say it to put pressure (on me). It’s just flattering that the guy who spent over 20 years there thinks I have the quality to manage a big club like Arsenal one day.”
Vieira’s celebrated playing career began at Cannes and took him to Milan, Arsenal, Juventus, Inter Milan and Manchester City.
He was a World Cup winner with France in 1998 and appears as single-minded over the path of his managerial career as he was influential in the heat of the midfield battle for club and country.
“Since I was in Manchester City I had a clear idea about the next step for me,” said Vieira, who was linked with succeeding Wenger last summer before Unai Emery was appointed Arsenal manager.
“Moving from City to New York in the MLS and then coming back to the French league was the right decision.
“I have a clear idea of what I want to achieve, and I will try to take the right decision to get to the top.
“I want to take my time to get there, but I would love one day to manage one of the teams I played for in Italy or England.
“When you have an exciting league like in England, you always want to get involved. But I don’t put a time on it, because my work will decide if I deserve it or not.
“That is what will dictate if I deserve this kind of job.”
Get the latest personalised Arsenal products on our new TEAMtalk Gunners shop!