Arsenal legend Arsene Wenger to make managerial return for one-off clash against Lionel Messi and PSG

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 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Arsene Wenger will return to the dugout to face off against Lionel Messi, Neymar and Co as the manager of an All-Star Saudi Arabian league team.

A combined Al-Hilal and Al-Nassr XI will be picked and managed by the 71-year-old for the Riyadh Season Cup clash in January, hosted in the Saudi city.

Paris Saint-Germain are the opponents for the friendly, which will take place during the Ligue 1 winter break - which runs from December 23 to January 9.

French boss Wenger has taken part in a number of charity matches since leaving Arsenal in 2018, but typically as a player, which led to the somewhat surprising image of him dribbling around Zinedine Zidane during an exhibition game in May 2019.

 (AFP/Getty Images)
(AFP/Getty Images)

More recently, he has made headlines in his role as FIFA’s chief of global football development by spearheading proposals for a World Cup every two years - as part of his plan to strengthen football’s focus on “competitions of meaning”.

But Wenger will be back in more familiar territory in the coming weeks with the Saudi clash, confirmed by local organisers, following a Unicef game in France on Wednesday. He is set to lead a team against Didier Drogba’s Marseille Legends outfit at the Stade Velodrome with Samir Nasri, Robert Pires and Jens Lehmann also involved.

Last month, he hinted that a full-time return to management was not off the table.

“Overall we have to accept that our days come to an end at some stage,” Wenger said in an interview with the Telegraph, before adding: “I don’t rule it out.

“There are always people who say, ‘You are too old’ so at the time, maybe I thought they were right, but I am in good shape and I have not completely decided not to do it anymore.”

PSG’s trip to Saudi Arabia features as part of the country’s huge Riyadh Season of events starting later this month. Running to March 2022, some 7,500 performances, plays, sporting clashes and more are planned for the region.

Also playing are Barcelona, who will face Boca Juniors on November 25 in the ‘Maradona Cup’. Exactly which Blaugrana stars will be on show remains to be seen with the Thursday night exhibition wedged between a Champions League game against Benfica and a LaLiga match with Villarreal.

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