Arsenal's Arsene Wenger: MLS an ideal fit for older Premier League players
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said in an interview with the club's official website that he sees leagues like MLS as ideal destinations for older Premier League players nearing the end of their English football careers.
In a Q&A discussing players' post-career transitions and the struggles some face, Wenger pointed to a variety of resources available, including MLS, which is in its 19th season of operation.
"Being completely at the top finishes when you are 34 at the latest. After that, you have different leagues like the MLS and the Indian league. I encourage players to play as long as possible if they really love it."
The Aresenal.com story focuses on some of the success stories of former players who have enjoyed post-career life, such as Lee Dixon and Martin Keown. It also discusses the struggles of former footballers like Paul Vaessen, the former Gunner who died in 2001 of an accidental drug overdose at age 39, and Kenny Sansom, another former Gunner who was reportedly homeless in August 2013.
The story cites research by XPro, a charitable organization for former players, that says approximately 40 percent of former footballers declare themselves bankrupt within five years of retirement. Wenger said he thinks the troubles can start once players realize their football careers start winding down around the ages many people are just starting theirs.
As for MLS, which is at the peak of its popularity 24 years into existence, Wenger expects the league to continue growing in popularity.
You mentioned the MLS and the Indian Super League too. Do you see more English players going there in the future once they finish here?
"I believe that if you look at the history of football, it has always become quicker and it looks like it grows everywhere. It’s like a virus that multiplies, so I don’t imagine that it won’t take off. It took a while in the United States but it’s now very popular.
"It faces cricket in India but there’s always room for a second sport. There’s only really badminton and cricket in India at the moment but there’s room for another sport. I know that the people there watch the Premier League and I’m convinced that with such a huge population, it will take off."
- Mike Fiammetta