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Saturday 15 December 2018

Mikel Arteta's hopes of becoming Arsenal manager given double boost

Pep Guardiola confirms he will give the green light to Mikel Arteta leaving Manchester City amid interest from Arsenal
Pep Guardiola confirms he will give the green light to Mikel Arteta leaving Manchester City amid interest from Arsenal

Jeremy Wilson

Mikel Arteta’s hopes of succeeding Arsene Wenger as Arsenal manager received a significant double boost on Sunday night after Max Allegri said that he wanted to stay with Juventus and Pep Guardiola promised not to stand in his assistant’s way.

The former Arsenal captain has been working as Guardiola’s assistant at City since retiring two years ago and features prominently on an Arsenal shortlist that also includes Allegri, Patrick Vieira and Hoffenheim manager Julian Nagelsmann.

Allegri is clearly the outstanding candidate in terms of his recent track-record, with him last night leading Juventus to a fourth straight Italian league and cup double after also twice reaching the Champions League final in that time.

Arsenal are interested in talking with him but, asked on Sunday night about his future, Allegri said: "If they don't sack me, I'll stay at Juventus next year too."

Allegri has one year remaining on his contract and, while keen to eventually work in England, both the timing and Arsenal’s lack of Champions League football are potential obstacles.

Telegraph Sport revealed in December how Arteta was viewed as a future Arsenal manager and Guardiola last night also delivered a ringing endorsement of his influence on a Manchester City team that became the first in English top-flight history to reach 100 points.

“Mikel’s contribution was outstanding, amazing,” said Guardiola. “We were together so good, all the staff, so if he stays I will be happiest guy in the world. If he decides to move because he has this offer, this option, I will not say you don’t have to go.

“I want the best for my friends, and he’s a friend of mine, and I want the best. If he decide to go, I will be so sad, but I will understand his decision, because it’s his career, his life, his family, and I am not the right guy to say you don’t have to do that. But hopefully hopefully he can stay and finish what we have started together in the coming years.”

Arsenal have been internally whittling down their list of potential candidates but want to conduct a full interview process and intend to make their appointment by at least the start of the World Cup next month. Chief executive Ivan Gazidis is leading the search with support from head of recruitment Sven Mislintat and head of football relations Raul Sanllehi but the final decision with be made by majority owner Stan Kroenke and his son Josh.

A big proven figure like Allegri would be likely to bring a greater staff and salary expectation but would represent less of a risk in a Premier League that is now packed with many of the main ‘galactico’ managerial figures in world football.

A younger and less experienced manager like Vieira, Arteta or Nagelsmann would be a greater gamble, but the Kroenke family know that any appointment carries risk and may feel emboldened by their decision last year to hire Sean McVay, then aged just 30, to the position of head coach at their Los Angeles Rams NFL team.

McVay had played only college football for Miami in Ohio before coaching Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Florida Tuskers and the Washington Redskins, where he had been working as the offensive coordinator. He finished 2017 with an 11-5 win record and was named ‘Coach of the Year’ by the Pro Football Writers of America.

Arteta, 36, is particularly well regarded still inside Arsenal for his influence both on and off the pitch as a player between 2011 and 2016 but, other than the past two seasons as assistant to Guardiola at Manchester City, has no senior coaching experience. Vieira is the coach of New York City, who have improved their finishing position in each of his two seasons in 2016 and 2017.

Nagelsmann, who is 30 and regarded as the outstanding young coach in Germany, has led Hoffenheim into the Champions League for the first time in their history with consecutive Bundesliga finishes of fourth and third.

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