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Arsene Wenger says MLS, Indian Super League ideal for retiring players

Despite commissioner Don Garber's insistence that Major League Soccer is a growth league, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger singled out MLS on Tuesday as the perfect place to put retiring players out to pasture.

"You have two steps. Being completely at the top finishes when you are 34 at the latest," Wenger told the Arsenal website. "After that, you have different leagues like the MLS and the Indian league. I encourage players to play as long as possible if they really love it."

U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann put MLS under fire with recent comments suggesting that even younger U.S. prospects abandon the league for more challenging opportunities.

Garber objected to Klinsmann saying it would be "very difficult" for U.S. internationals Michael Bradley and Clint Dempsey to maintain their best form after the duo returned to play in MLS after extended spells in Europe.

Seattle Sounders minority owner Adrian Hanauer, Philadelphia Union CEO and operating partner Nick Sakiewicz, and several other sources told ESPN FC's Jeff Carlisle that there is growing frustration within the league over the advice Klinsmann and U.S. soccer staff are giving to youth national team and MLS academy players.

Klinsmann, however, denied he has been giving an across-the-board message favorable to European football.

"Some kids would benefit from the environment in Europe, while others are best suited to continue their growth in MLS," Klinsmann said. "There's no one right answer that applies to all players, and each player's circumstances change over time."

Wenger, meanwhile, made it clear that he felt MLS and other leagues are ideally suited for retiring players.

"[Arsenal legend Robert] Pires is 40 but he still plays and when he comes to training here, he's still very good," Wenger told the Arsenal website. "They give a good image of the game. They can make football popular on different continents and in different countries, where it's taking off. I think it's fantastic.

"They are ambassadors of the game by playing on the pitch. The only thing I always say is that once you're on the pitch, you give your best. Your age doesn't matter -- people can understand that you're not as quick at 40 as you were at 30. Play with passion, with your heart and technical quality - that will be enough."

Wenger told the Arsenal site that he sees more English players retiring in other leagues, particularly MLS and the Indian Super League.

"I believe that if you look at the history of football, it has always become quicker and it looks like it grows everywhere. It's like a virus that multiplies, so I don't imagine that it won't take off. It took a while in the United States but it's now very popular.

"It faces cricket in India but there's always room for a second sport. There's only really badminton and cricket in India at the moment but there's room for another sport. I know that the people there watch the Premier League and I'm convinced that with such a huge population, it will take off."