Report: Arsenal identify club legend to replace Arsene Wenger as manager
What's the story?
Arsenal are set to make former Gunner Mikel Arteta the heir to Arsene Wenger's managerial position when his contract comes to an end. Wenger, who has been the club's manager since 1996, has a contract that ends in 2019.
According to The Telegraph, Arteta completed his UEFA Pro Licence three months ago and only a formal confirmation is left. The Spaniard is currently working as an assistant coach under Pep Guardiola at Manchester City.
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Arteta joined the Gunners in 2011 when the club were going through a crisis. They had lost both Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri in August, and Arteta was signed for £10m from Everton.
He would go on to make nearly 150 appearances for the club, winning two FA Cup trophies. Arteta was also handed the captain's armband and is a well-respected member of the Arsenal squad for his contributions to the club despite injuries taking its toll.
The 35-year-old retired at the end of the 2015/16 season and immediately moved into coaching. Other managers such as Leonardo Jardim and Thomas Tuchel were identified but there have not been any concrete reports of any approach to bring them on board.
The heart of the matter
Having completed his coaching badges, Arteta will be allowed to manage a club. In fact, Arsenal were the first to offer him a role as a coach when he had announced his plans to hang up his boots.
Tottenham Hotspur boss Mauricio Pochettino was also prepared to give him a role in his coaching staff but Arteta had declined the offer. Pochettino holds Arteta in high regard after having played together at Paris Saint-Germain.
“I am very fond of him and he will make an exceptional coach.” - Pochettino
However, despite offers from both north London clubs, Arteta chose to join Guardiola's staff at City so he could learn everything he could under the Catalan manager.
Guardiola's current contract at City ends in the summer of 2019 as well as he had only signed a three-year deal when he took over the reins prior to the 2016/17 season. However, City are looking to extend his deal and, if he does, that would not allow Arteta to take over at the Etihad.
With Arsenal appointing Raul Sanllehi as the head of football relations at the club, approaching Arteta would be easier as they are known to each other after working together in Arteta's early days at Barcelona.
The number of appointments to Arsenal's staff in recent months (not only in football relations but also recruitment) suggests the club are looking to slowly make the transition when Wenger eventually ends his reign at the club.
Per Mertesacker, who is retiring at the end of this season, has already been offered a role in the Arsenal academy after he had done his badges while he was sideline with an injury. Arteta would be the second captain in recent years to be given a role, albeit a much bigger one.
Arteta has been credited with the rise of Raheem Sterling at City with Guardiola commending his coaching which has resulted in the young English forward scoring a career-high 15 goals so far in less than half a season.
With his background at Arsenal and learning under Guardiola, Arteta's foundation for his coaching would never be in doubt. The only question is if he can come in and manage a Premier League club as his first club in management or whether he needs to get his feet wet elsewhere before taking over.