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Simeone hails Wenger and distances himself from Arsenal switch

Atletico Madrid's Diego Simeone has been linked to Arsenal after Arsene Wenger's announcement but only has eyes for the Europa League semi.

Simeone hails Wenger and distances himself from Arsenal switch
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Diego Simeone has not spoken to Arsenal about the prospect of replacing Arsene Wenger and insists he is happy at Atletico Madrid as the sides prepare for a keenly anticipated Europa League semi-final.

Wenger announced last Friday he would end a 22-year tenure as Arsenal manager and Simeone has been viewed as one of many names in the frame for the Emirates Stadium post.

But speaking at a pre-match news conference, the Argentinian maintained such a move was not on the agenda and added his voice to numerous plaudits the 68-year-old Frenchman has enjoyed over recent days.

"No, I haven't spoken with anyone at Arsenal," he said. "I love it at Atletico.

"The first thing that comes to mind [regarding Wenger] is admiration. He's had to reinvent himself.

"I see myself as a young coach and I want to observe and learn from him. The position he has occupied in football is wonderful."

Simeone has been handed a fitness boost from striker Diego Costa, who features in the Atleti squad after returning from a hamstring problem.

During his Chelsea days, Costa was regularly a thorn in the Gunners' side, while Simeone has identified playmaker Mesut Ozil as a potential Arsenal dangerman.

"He has incredible vision," he said. "He manages the speed of transitions at Arsenal - if he wants his team to play quickly he will get them playing quickly. 

"It's up to us to make it the kind of game we want to have and be brave."

Atletico head into Thursday's match on the back of no goals and a solitary point from the past two LaLiga outings.

"Since I arrived in Madrid the team has improved a great deal. The criticism has increased as we've raised the bar," Simeone added.

"I'm happy where I am right now. I hope we can play with the mental freedom in a stadium where Arsenal are very strong. You need courage to get into a final."