Friday 18 January 2019

Arsenal split on who they want to succeed Arsene Wenger

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger. Photo: Getty Images
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger. Photo: Getty Images

Matt Law

Arsenal are split over who they want to replace Arsene Wenger as the club step up their search for his successor.

This is expected to be Wenger’s final season in charge at the Emirates, even if Arsenal win the Europa League and qualify for the Champions League.

Attention is now turning to how Wenger will be replaced, with head of football relations Raul Sanllehi, head of recruitment Sven Mislintat and chief executive Ivan Gazidis all working on the succession plan.

Spanish sources claim that Sanllehi’s favoured candidate is Luis Enrique, who he worked with successfully at Barcelona.

Enrique won two La Liga titles and the Champions League while in charge of Barcelona and is keen to resume his managerial career in England when he completes his year-long sabbatical.

The Spaniard has also been linked with Chelsea, but his wage demands, which are said to top £10 million-a-year, could put off both clubs.

Mislintat is believed to be concentrating his attention in Germany. He is a big fan of 30-year-old Hoffenheim manager Julian Nagelsmann and Shalke’s Domenico Tedesco, who is just two years older.

A picture emerged of Mislintat at Shalke’s 2-0 victory over his former club Borussia Dortmund over the weekend and Tedesco’s team are second in the Bundesliga table.

Hoffenheim are four places back in sixth and Nagelsmann’s work in his two-and-a-half years in charge have earned him a reputation for being one of the best young coaches in Europe.

Gazidis is known to be a big admirer of former Arsenal captain Mikel Arteta, who is also somebody Sanllehi rates, and is impressed by the work of Monaco’s Leonardo Jardim and Celtic’s Brendan Rodgers.

Arsenal ideally want a younger man to replace 68-year-old Wenger and Sanllehi, Mislintat and Gazidis will all work together to try to find common ground on exactly who should make their shortlist.

But that will not be an easy job with each man favouring different candidates and working to their own agendas.

Arsenal’s determination to ensure Wenger is given a respectful exit also complicates the process over finding his successor, as the club do not want to be seen to be approaching candidates while the Frenchman is in post.

That means that while other clubs are openly speaking with managers and their agents, the Gunners are having to tread carefully and act discreetly.

Majority shareholder Stan Kroenke will ultimately have the final say on who replaces Wenger and he will also listen to advice from his son Josh. But both Kroenke’s will rely heavily on the advice of Sanllehi, Mislintat and Gazidis.

It is a similar scenario in terms of player recruitment with agents and middle men currently unsure who has casting vote in terms of summer transfer targets.

Arsenal want a goalkeeper, a central defender and a midfielder to bolster their squad, but there is a level of confusion from outside the club over who is in charge.

Agents have traditionally either gone direct to Wenger or approached Dick Law, who this season stepped down from his job that saw him directly involved in player recruitment and contracts.

Mislintat and Gazidis took the lead during the January transfer window, as the pair were pictured in Germany to negotiate the club record transfer of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Mislintat recommended Henrikh Mkhitaryan.

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