Exclusive: Gilberto Silva on Arsenal, Simeone and Panathinaikos rumours

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Photo Credit: Lekshman Subramaniam / FourthOfficial.com

Ex-Arsenal star Gilberto Silva has confirmed that he’s currently in talks with Greece’s Panathinaikos over the possibility of him becoming their new technical director.

Though reports over the last one week have suggested that Silva is close to agreeing a deal the man himself claims that talks are still ongoing and that nothing concrete has materialized yet, as of now.

“Yes, I’m talking to them but there’s nothing I can confirm at this point. There’s still a lot to discuss and negotiate, so right now that’s all I can reveal,” he told FourthOfficial.com

Photo Credit: Lekshman Subramaniam / FourthOfficial.com
Photo Credit: Lekshman Subramaniam / FourthOfficial.com

This news comes as no surprise as Silva is already making a name for himself in the world of football consultancy. In fact, the former Invincible reaffirmed that he’s not looking to enter the world of coaching and management for the time being.

“I don’t think it’s the right time. I’m happy where I am. I get to spend time with my family and friends and I’m enjoying the process of running my football consultancy business, besides doing some TV work here and there. Maybe in future, I’ll do my badges, but not now,” he exclaimed.

Silva spent nine successful years in Europe, after winning the FIFA World Cup with Brazil in 2002. He was part of the Arsenal squad that remained unbeaten throughout the 2003/2004 season – which is the last time Arsenal clinched the Premier League trophy.

Photo Credit: Daily Star
Photo Credit: Daily Star

The 12-year drought has visibly affected Arsene Wenger’s reputation amongst Arsenal fans, with a large portion of them calling for him to be sacked this summer. As far Silva is concerned though, it isn’t a binary problem.

“I know Arsene very well and he loves the club. It’s a big part of him, he’s given everything to them over the past few years. Over the past few years, it’s been difficult to compete with teams that spend big like Manchester City, Chelsea and Manchester United. But of course, sometimes money isn’t everything. Look at Leicester City.

“My point is, it’s not easy to blame the head coach and just sack him.  We don’t have leaders like we used to, but it’s not easy to find a Patrick Viera, who is willing to sacrifice everything to allow his teammates to attack and play. You can only sign players that are produced in the current context of football.”

Photo Credit: Daily Star
Photo Credit: Daily Star

The World Cup winner went deeper moments later, when quizzed on potential candidates that could come in and replace Wenger, including Diego Simeone, should he be shown the exit door this summer.

“I really don’t think Diego Simeone suits Arsenal. I have huge respect for the work he’s done with Atletico and it’s been incredible. But if you look at Atletico, that’s their style of football. And Diego has the right type of players to execute that style as well.

“But if you know Arsenal in and out, you’ll know that they play a complete different brand of football. That being said, I can’t think of a name who can come in and replace Wenger at this point. It’s never easy to replace someone who has been there for 20 years. Look at Man United, they are still struggling to cope without Sir Alex.

Photo Credit: Lekshman Subramaniam / FourthOfficial.com
Photo Credit: Lekshman Subramaniam / FourthOfficial.com

“But when Wenger leaves, hopefully the club will be able to find a manager with the right capacity to build on the legacy that Wenger has left. Maybe the right guy will emerge then,” he concluded.

After leaving Arsenal in 2008, Silva spent three years with Panathinaikos in Greece, winning the Greek Super League as well as the Greek Football Club in 2010. He went on to sign for Gremio in 2011, before returning to his hometown club Atletico Mineiro in 2012, helping them clinch a historic Copa Libertadores triumph in 2013.

He was down in Kuala Lumpur recently to be a guest pundit in Astro Supersport’s coverage of the UEFA Champions League as well as the Barclays Premier League.