Arteta, 36, has been working as Pep Guardiola’s assistant at Manchester City over the past two seasons but spent the final five years of his playing career at Arsenal and was club captain, winning the FA Cup once despite injuries mounting up at the end of his playing days.
And now the Spaniard, according to several reports, has emerged as the clear front runner to succeed Wenger who has stepped down after almost 22 years in charge. German coach Julian Nagelsmann, who led Hoffenheim to a club-best third place finish in the Bundesliga this season, was also favored but the 30-year-old coach isn’t available according to his club.
That leaves Arteta in the clear as it has seemed for some time that Arsenal wanted a younger coach with fresh ideas to reinvigorate their squad after a disappointing past two seasons under Wenger. Arteta would also align with the new structure of the club behind-the-scenes after several high level appointments in recruitment and director roles in recent months (head of football relations Raul Sanllehi and head of recruitment Sven Mislintat have both arrived) as they prepared for life after Wenger.
Is Arteta a good fit?
In many ways he ticks all of the right boxes. He will be hungry to impress in his first managerial job, he knows the club inside out after spending the latter stages of his playing days as club captain and his coaching philosophy aligns with that of his hero, Guardiola, who he’s helped to develop one of the greatest teams soccer has ever seen over the past 12 months.
Guardiola has lauded Arteta and hopes he stays, although Man City’s manager has admitted he will not stand in the way of his assistant if he wants to move on. Reports are also emerging that Arteta is hugely respected by City’s playing squad as he helps to get Guardiola’s message across on a daily basis. That’s no mean feat given the tactical nous needed to not only understand but help players understand what Pep wants.
Like Pep, Arteta was a cerebral player, a fluid central midfielder who made the best out of his career from his days in Barcelona’s academy to breaking through at Real Sociedad, then moving to PSG, Glasgow Rangers, Everton and Arsenal. He was a player who could see passes others couldn’t and was respected wherever he went as he played in a more advanced role at Everton but returned to a more defensive role in central midfield at Arsenal.
This message below when he left Arsenal in 2016 says a lot about not only Arteta’s character but also his love for the Gunners and coaching.
His class on and off the pitch slots in with Arsenal’s philosophy and the one which Wenger has created, plus, let’s be real, he would also represent a much cheaper option to the likes of Max Allegri or Luis Enrique who are being touted as potential successors to Wenger.
Arteta has come out of left-field a little, especially with no prior managerial experience, but in many regards he would be the perfect choice to not only replace Wenger but keep the playing style and culture he cultivated intact.