Patrick Vieira was a standout with Arsenal for nine EPL seasons. (FrontRowSoccer.com Photo)

By Michael Lewis

FrontRowSoccer.com Editor

Patrick Vieira has been linked to succeed Arsene Wenger as Arsenal head coach.

Wenger Friday morning announced he will step down as coach of the English Premier League club after a 22-year tenure.

Not surprisingly, Vieira, who directs New York City FC, has been mentioned as a possible successor. The former French international and World Cup winner played with the Gunners for nine years during their glory days.

NYCFC is owned by Manchester City, a rival of Arsenal.

While the 41-year-old Vieira and his family have enjoyed living in New York City, he would like to return to Europe and coach a First Division side someday. Someday.

Whether that would be Arsenal this time around is another matter. If selected, he would have to leave City several months into the Major League Soccer season. Vieira’s contract runs through this season.

Vieira has Wenger’s support.

“He works in the moment in New York and he works for Manchester City,” Wenger recently said of Vieira, who has spoken of his interest in returning to Arsenal.  “He’s a guy who has the potential one day, yes. I’ve followed his managerial career.

“I think he does very well but overall, this Premier League is special. You have to come in and there are plenty of former players who played here who have potential, the intelligence and knowledge to do it.”

Vieira is considered an unexperienced coach by many EPL pundits and observers, but he has transformed NYCFC into an MLS powerhouse in his two-plus years with the club.

He took over the second-year expansion team in 2016 after a 10-7-7 maiden season in which the team finished in eighth place in the Eastern Conference. He decided to use a three-man forward line on a regular basis, a rarity in MLS.

That attacking philosophy helped City finished second in the conference the past two seasons with 15-10-9 and 16-9-9 records, respectively. The team, however, has failed in the playoffs both years, getting the boot in the conference semifinals.

NYCFC is 5-0-2 this season.

City visits the Portland Timbers Sunday.