Kolkata, May 15: It was the end of an era as Arsene Wenger ended his 22-year stint as Arsenal manager after the Gunners won 1-0 at Huddersfield Town in the last game of the 2017-18 Premier League season.
A hunt for his successor at the North London club has been going on since the past two weeks. A number of former Arsenal players and top managers across Europe are in contention, but there is one who seems to have a clear edge.
Former Arsenal player and current assistant coach at Manchester City, Mikel Arteta leads the contention to be the manager of his ex-club.
Arteta had a rather excellent season this campaign as Manchester City clinched the title whilst also breaking the record of most goals scored in a campaign and reaching the 100-point barrier as well. This will certainly boost his chances of becoming a full-time manager next term.
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 Massimiliano Allegri, Patrick Vieira and Hoffenheim manager Julian Nagelsmann.
And although Allegri had led the way till now, Juventus’ seventh consecutive triumph of the Scudetto seemed to change his plans. Asked about his future, Allegri said: "If they don't sack me, I'll stay at Juventus next year too."
With one year still to go on his contract at Juventus and the absence of UEFA Champions League football for Arsenal might be the only reasons that Allegri would let the offer go. This put Arteta in driving seat to clinch the job.
Ecstatic after a record-breaking season at Manchester City, Guardiola heaped praise on his assistant’s role for a memorable campaign.
"Mikel’s contribution was outstanding, amazing,” said Guardiola. "We were together so good, all the staff, so if he stays I'll be the happiest guy in the world. If he decides to move because he has this offer, this option, I'll 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 decides to go, I'll be so sad, but I'll understand his decision because it’s his career, his life, his family, and I'm not the right guy to say you don’t have to do that. But hopefully, he can stay and finish what we've started together in the coming years."