HONG KONG (Reuters) - Arsene Wenger will not be taking over at Shandong Luneng when he leaves Arsenal at the end of the English Premier League season, the Chinese Super League club announced on Tuesday.
The Frenchman is due to leave Arsenal in the summer after almost 22 years with the Premier League side and speculation has been rife regarding the veteran coach’s future.
Wenger has been linked with a big money move to an unnamed Chinese club, but Shandong moved to dispel rumours they will hire the 68-year-old to replace current coach Li Xiaopeng.
“We are surprised to learn from our friends online that Mr Wenger will be transferring to our club,” Shandong said in a posting on Weibo.
“Should we prepare a welcome dinner for him? We’re afraid the Professor won’t be a fan of our local style barbecue, so we are not inviting him over. We’re very comfortable with our own Professor Li.”
Wenger has experience of working in Asia having coached Nagoya Grampus Eight in Japan before joining Arsenal in September 1996, while other experienced and high profile coaches have moved to China in recent years.
World Cup winners Marcello Lippi and Luiz Felipe Scolari have both worked at Guangzhou Evergrande while former England manager Fabio Capello recently left Jiangsu Suning. Others to have worked in China include Sven-Goran Eriksson and Manuel Pellegrini.
Shandong are currently second in the Chinese Super League, a point behind leaders Shanghai SIPG.
Li took over as head coach at the club ahead of the current season following the departure of former Wolfsburg and Bayern Munich coach Felix Magath.
Reporting by Michael Church, Editing by Amlan Chakraborty