In an extensive interview with Welt am Sonntag, former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger discussed his contact with Bayern Munich after the resignation of Niko Kovac and Mesut Özil’s decision to retire from the German national team in the wake of controversy over his appearance for a photo-op with Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
Wenger acknowledged that he spoke with Bayern CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge after Kovac’s departure. But he feels that Bayern made the right move in giving the job permanently to Hansi Flick. He said:
Yes, I spoke with Karl-Heinz Rummenigge. He asked me whether I could help. I think, though, that Bayern made the right choice. They gave Hansi Flick the responsibility — and he has done extremely well. He has made many very good decisions, and his team has played very, very well. They are the best team in Europe.
Wenger argued that Bayern Munich deservedly won the Champions League. He said, “Teams like Real Madrid and Barcelona are not as good as they were before. Bayern capitalized on that — in a very convincing way, I must say.”
I have never liked it when players quite the national team. Something inside them goes and dies. As a player, you want to be on the big stage, to play at a World Cup. That’s the big, secret drive in you. After the door is closed, I have only things go downhill for players. Things improved for none of them after that.
Wenger said he did not know whether Özil might regret his decision. He said, “I don’t know, but I don’t like his decision. I think it was a mistake. He’s a very nice person and a magnificent footballer — and I’ve seen many players in my life. He is one of the greatest! That’s why it’s a shame.”