LONDON • Arsene Wenger is willing to sit down with the Football Association to discuss the England job and harbours ambitions of managing a national team at some point.
The Arsenal manager is believed to have rejected an offer from the FA on at least one previous occasion, but would welcome another approach this summer after the departure of Roy Hodgson.
The Frenchman's interest will be a boost for the FA after Martin Glenn, its chief executive, described his ideal candidate as being an "inspirational manager with Premier League experience" on Tuesday, but it comes with a significant caveat.
It is understood that the 66-year-old would be unwilling to commit himself to taking the England job at this stage, and wants to delay making a decision on his future until towards the end of next season.
Even if the talks are positive, the FA would face a dilemma over whether to wait for Wenger, in the knowledge that he could still say no, or appoint someone else.
The FA's difficulty is compounded by the fact that Gareth Southgate is not eager to step in on an interim basis.
The England Under-21 manager has not yet spoken to his employer about a temporary promotion, but believes that his next job should be at a Premier League club and fears that presiding over any poor results at the start of the World Cup qualifying campaign could harm his career prospects.
The 45-year-old has been offered a new contract by the FA, but has yet to accept because of his interest in returning to club football.
While the FA is considering other potential caretakers - former coach Glenn Hoddle has his admirers at Wembley but has yet to be approached - its predicament was highlighted by the outgoing chairman, Greg Dyke, on Wednesday when he questioned whether anyone would take the job.
"It's got to be somebody who really knows English football," Dyke, who leaves his post in three weeks' time, said. "Martin made clear you go for the best person. The harder question is why anybody would want it."
The FA's interest in Wenger intensifies the pressure on Arsenal to clarify their managerial plans, with his contract expiring at the end of next season.
The club have prepared a new two-year deal for Wenger and despite his reluctance to commit they may be forced to issue him with an ultimatum or begin looking for a successor.
REALLY BIG SHOES TO FILL
It's got to be somebody who really knows English football... The harder question is why anybody would want it.
GREG DYKE, the FA's outgoing chairman, on the huge demands on any England manager.
The FA's managerial search is being led by David Gill, the vice-chairman, and Dan Ashworth, the technical director. Gill is understood to be a big admirer of Laurent Blanc, who is available after being sacked by Paris Saint-Germain.
In addition to appointing a new manager, the FA is planning to get former England players involved in coaching the national junior sides, with Frank Lampard, Scott Parker and Phil Neville all being considered for roles.
THE TIMES, LONDON, THE GUARDIAN