LONDON • Arsene Wenger says he is looking forward to renewing acquaintances with Claudio Ranieri, the "great manager and great man" whom he credits with laying many of the foundations for the success that Chelsea have enjoyed in the last decade.
Arsenal travel to Ranieri's high-flying Leicester City today, with the Frenchman unsurprised that his Italian counterpart has made a smooth return to the English Premier League.
Ranieri was manager at Stamford Bridge when Roman Abramovich bought Chelsea in 2003 but was given only one season before being replaced by Jose Mourinho.
The Portuguese led Chelsea to the league title the following season with a team whom Wenger believes was built primarily by Ranieri.
"When Claudio left Chelsea, he had built the team that was so successful at the start," said Wenger.
"I remember them finishing second in the league with Ranieri and the team was upcoming with young players like John Terry and Frank Lampard, who contributed to the success of Chelsea."
In the past, Mourinho has scoffed at Ranieri's managerial record and the relationship between the pair turned sour when both men managed in Italy. Wenger, by contrast, admires Ranieri and has kept track of his managerial progress since leaving Chelsea.
The Italian coached six other clubs and a national team, Greece, before returning to England with Leicester last summer.
"I've followed his career because I have big respect for Claudio. He's a great manager and a great man," said the Arsenal manager.
Wenger was speaking before finding out whether Gabriel Paulista will be banned for the trip to Leicester. The Brazilian defender was charged with improper conduct after failing to leave the pitch promptly when he was sent off in last weekend's defeat at Chelsea.
LEICESTER CITY V ARSENAL
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