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Arsene Wenger admits it is possible Mikel Arteta could take up a coaching role at Manchester City when his Arsenal contract expires this summer.
The 34-year-old has played just 369 minutes in all competitions for the Gunners this season in another campaign stunted by injury problems.
Club captain Arteta has not featured since the 2-1 FA Cup fourth-round win over Burnley on January 30 but is fit and available for selection.
The former Rangers and Everton midfielder was in and around the Barcelona set-up when in-coming Man City boss Pep Guardiola was in the first-team and reports have suggested the two could be reunited in the Etihad Stadium dugout next season.
"It is possible," Wenger said when asked if Arteta could depart for a backroom role at City.
"It is true that he is out of contract here and when his contract finishes it is a good opportunity for me to thank him for his contribution, not only as a player but also as a leader.
"What kind of orientation will he give now to his career? I heard about that possibility, but he could inform you much better than I can.
"He is free to decide to do what he wants, he will certainly need some time to reflect on whether he continues to play.
"I still think he can play, in the last months he has come back to a very good physical level and he is a position today where he can continue to play and he would be a very good player everywhere."
Wenger has a history of giving former players the chance to coach youth teams at Arsenal - but said he has no room in his current first-team set-up for the man he signed back in 2011.
"You want your former players to be at the club but you also need the positions to fill," he said.
"You cannot create artificial positions at the club. If you have coaches in the under-16s, under-15s and under-14s who are very good, you will not kick them out to make room for players who want to coach.
"If we have positions available, we always give a good chance to the players who played here. Let's not forget I've given the opportunity to many, many players to obtain their licence here, to educate them.
"After that maybe there will be someone else. We always open the door to give them an opportunity to be educated. After that we need the positions available to give them the job.
"We will be going until the end of the season. We don't know what will happen with the coaches' movement."
As well as being linked to Guardiola's new regime at City, Arteta has also been touted to make a move across north London to coach at Tottenham - having played with head coach Mauricio Pochettino at Paris Saint-Germain.
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