LONDON • Arsenal need to be "open-minded" in finding a new manager following the announcement of Arsene Wenger's departure from the club, chief executive Ivan Gazidis said on Friday.
Wenger is to stand down at the end of the season after a reign of almost 22 years and while Gazidis refused to discuss whether the Frenchman left entirely of his own accord, he said the search for a new manager had not yet begun.
"The most important thing is to make the right appointment - not a quick one," said Gazidis, who said that, out of respect for Wenger, no discussions had been held while he was in the post.
"The process begins today. This club has to rise to the challenge. You don't find a replacement for Arsene Wenger, you find a new path forward. We need to be open-minded and also brave in the decision. Be bold and get the person we believe is the right person."
Despite Wenger announcing that he has chosen to leave, British media reported that Wenger was told he would be sacked this summer if he did not step down.
Gazidis reportedly met Wenger this week to inform him that poor recent results meant that he would not be allowed to serve the second season of the two-year extension that he signed last summer.
Former AC Milan and Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti, Atletico Madrid's Diego Simeone, Juventus' Massimiliano Allegri, Germany coach Joachim Low and former Arsenal midfielder Patrick Vieira are among the names mentioned as possible replacements.
THE RIGHT APPROACH
We need to be open-minded and also brave in the decision. Be bold and get the person we believe is the right person.
IVAN GAZIDIS, Arsenal's chief executive, on the club's approach when looking for their next manager.
Gazidis gave few clues about the profile of manager the club would be looking for, but suggested they would have to be adept at bringing through young players and adhere to Arsenal's values.
"Under the radar, we have a lot of young players coming through so that value of bringing in youth has got to be one," Gazidis said. "What I will say is that it's important to me that we continue the football values Arsene has instilled at the club - someone who plays exciting and progressive football. We need to make sure we don't lose his qualities and his values."
Former Liverpool midfielder Jamie Redknapp, a Sky Sports pundit, believes the Arsenal job will be coveted as the transition should not be compared to Manchester United, post-Alex Ferguson.
Ferguson won 38 trophies, including 13 Premier League titles, during his 26-year reign as United boss before he retired in 2013. David Moyes succeeded the Scot and lasted only 10 months at Old Trafford.
"You can't even put the two of them in the same category," Redknapp said.
"You're not following a manager that has won the Premier League time and time again. Wenger has won three FA Cups recently but you're not following a man who has been dominating the Premier League for the last 15 years.
"Whoever takes this job shouldn't fear it. It's a great opportunity. It's not a poisoned chalice this one. This is one of the best-run clubs, has vast amounts of money in the bank and everything is in its favour."
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS, THE TIMES, LONDON