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 By PA Sport

Pep Guardiola: NYCFC's Patrick Vieira is qualified to take over Arsenal

The Exploding Heads properly lay to rest Arsene Wenger's most prized Arsenal possession, his trademark long coat.

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola has said Patrick Vieira is capable of succeeding Arsene Wenger at Arsenal, though the New York City FC boss distanced himself from speculation linking him to the job.

Wenger on Friday announced his intentions to leave the Emirates after 22 years this summer -- just one day after saying Vieira has the "potential" to manage Arsenal one day.

Man City and NYCFC are affiliated through parent company City Football Group, and Guardiola said that after Vieira's success in MLS, the former Arsenal captain can be an elite coach.

"Of course, he already is [a top manager]," Guardiola told reporters. "Now, with what happened [at Arsenal], there is a lot of names there. Arsenal is going to take the best decision for them.

"But, of course, he is ready. I think all the names that are going to start to go -- this name or this name or the other one -- all of them, they are ready."

But Vieira, a former Arsenal captain now managing NYCFC in Major League Soccer, played it cool when asked about the job by radio station WNYE.

"I spent nine years at Arsenal which makes the club really special for me," he said. "But that is not enough to coach the team. I am always flattered to hear my name linked. That is good for your ego, but at the same time, I am happy here."

Vieira has led NYCFC to the MLS Eastern Conference semifinals in each of his first two seasons, and his club are top of the table through seven games this year.

The 41-year-old said last month that he would be interested in the Arsenal job, but wouldn't discuss it further while Wenger was still in charge. That comes after he said in December that he was "not chasing a job in Europe" after being approached by French club Saint-Etienne.

Meanwhile, Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers -- who has previous Premier League experience with Swansea and Liverpool -- also said he is happy on and off the field in Glasgow.

"There's nothing really in it. I have always said I'm extremely happy here," he told BBC Radio Scotland's Sportsound programme. "I have three years left on my contract. I am loving every minute of being at Celtic from a professional perspective but also my life up here.

"I have a number of years left as a manager. I am 45, I probably look a lot older but, 45, and I'm enjoying my position here. It's a huge privilege for me to manage Celtic. It's a huge club with pressure and that's all I concentrate on.

Brendan Rodgers has won the Scottish Premiership in each of his seasons in charge of Celtic.
Brendan Rodgers

"Arsenal is a fantastic club, very much similar to Celtic in terms of the traditions and values it has as a club, you can't deny that. It's a fantastic club but, for me, my only focus is on Celtic and doing the very best I can for them."

Vieira and Rodgers's comments came after ex-Arsenal striker Ian Wright claimed Wenger was "sacked" -- rather than choosing to go himself.

The Gunners have struggled in the Premier League this campaign and face a second season of finishing outside of the top four, and Wenger has come in for criticism from fans in the last year.

Wright, who won the title during the Frenchman's early years at Arsenal, wrote that he believes the club took the decision to end his long stay, citing the manager's comments about Vieira on Thursday.

"Arsene Wenger is a man of principle, honesty and integrity -- that is why I am convinced he has been sacked and not resigned," Wright said in a column for The Sun. "For all the vitriol and abuse thrown at him, Arsene has never been a man to walk out before the end of a contract.

"It is a sad situation that it's come to this and I don't suppose we will ever find out who is responsible, because they will hide behind each other.

"One day he is doing a press conference with no hint of this, the next he's gone. It doesn't add up."

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