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Celtic chief: we won't stand in way of Brendan Arsenal move


By Adam McKendry

Ulsterman Brendan Rodgers is among the front runners to replace Arsene Wenger next season as the manager of Arsenal, and Celtic's majority shareholder Dermot Desmond says the club wouldn't stand in his way.

Frenchman Wenger announced yesterday he would be leaving the North London club at the end of the season after 22 years in charge, and already the bookmakers have made Rodgers one of the favourites to succeed him.

The 45-year old led Celtic to the domestic treble last season and is on the verge of taking the Hoops to an historic 'double treble' this season, with the club poised to secure the league title again this weekend.

Carnlough man Rodgers demonstrated his Premier League credentials by guiding Liverpool to second place behind Manchester City in 2014.

And the possibility of a return to England drew one step closer when tycoon Desmond admitted Celtic wouldn't stand in the way of him joining the Gunners should they come calling.

"I'm glad that he's the favourite because he deserves to be the favourite," Desmond said. "He's an outstanding person and we wouldn't like him to leave, but we can't force anybody to stay and hopefully his love for the club, and the set-up here, will induce him to stay at Celtic."

When asked if that meant he would allow Arsenal to speak to Rodgers, Desmond replied: "Absolutely. I don't think you can put handcuffs on anybody if they want to go to a club as good as Arsenal.

"But it'll be Brendan's decision and Brendan's decision only."

Other names in the mix for the vacant Emirates job are former Gunners star Patrick Vieira, Carlo Ancelotti, Newcastle boss Rafa Benitez and Diego Simeone, boss of the Gunners' Europa League semi-final opponents Atletico Madrid.

However, Rodgers distanced himself from rumours he was attracting interest from the Gunners on Thursday.

The Northern Irishman, who is still under contract at Parkhead for the next three years, says he still sees his work at the Hoops as unfinished.

"There is still plenty of work for me to do, to achieve, on the pitch and off the pitch.

"The support I get from the board, it is all very aligned, very clear. That allows me to work in confidence and that gives stability to the team and staff and we can all move forward. I am looking to the next step to take and already we are thinking how we can improve for next year, how we can be better in all aspects.

"I couldn't have wished for it to have gone any better. You always hope you come into a club and make an impact.

"But that is all down to the players and their ability to learn and take things on board. They have been absolutely fantastic.

"It has been a joy to see that and we want to continue with that."

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