Mikel Arteta appears to be on the cusp of being confirmed as Arsene Wenger’s successor as Arsenal manager. The demands of experienced candidates Max Allegri and Luis Enrique appear to have cost them any chance of succeeding the long-serving Frenchman, while Julian Nagelsmann is committed to leading Hoffenheim into their maiden Champions League campaign.
Arteta, therefore, is set to take one of the most coveted jobs in world football, virtually unopposed, without ever having managed a game of professional football in his life.
The Spaniard outlined his vision for management four years ago in a detailed interview with his former club in which he described his philosophy, his approach to dealing with different personalities and his inspirations. The 36-year-old looks set to return to north London with a squad which has changed significantly since he played his last game for the club exactly two years ago but several key figures still remain.
Metro.co.uk has taken a look through the archives to see what Arteta has said about several of his former teammates and soon-to-be new charges…
The German’s inconsistency has been a source of enormous frustration since his move from Real Madrid five years ago. Ozil ended months of speculation surrounding his future by signing a club-record contract in February, presumably oblivious to the fact that Wenger would depart at the season’s end. Wenger has been accused of overindulging the World Cup winner, regularly affording him breaks over the winter and carefully managing his schedule.
Arteta played alongside the 29-year-old for three seasons and is abundantly aware of his ability but also a need to adopt greater responsibility.
‘What I like most about Mesut is that he’s said to himself ‘I’m the man, I can hold the pressure and when the team needs me, I’m here to help us win the game’, Arteta wrote in his programme notes after Ozil created nine goalscoring opportunities in a win over Bournemouth in December 2015.
‘You could see that against Bournemouth. He was ready to step up because the first 25 minutes were really tough. ‘They played really well and we were under a bit of pressure.
‘But then he got an assist with an excellent corner and he could have had another two or three with the quality of his passing.’
One of the biggest conundrums facing Arteta should he be appointed concerns Aaron Ramsey’s future. Arsenal, yet again, find themselves in a scenario whereby one of their most important and influential players is left with just 12 months remaining on his contract.
Ramsey has just enjoyed one of his best campaigns in an Arsenal shirt and was rewarded with the captain’s armband in Wenger’s final game. Were it not for his delicate contractual situation, the 27-year-old would represent a natural successor to Laurent Koscielny, whose days as a top class centre-half appear numbered after his Achilles’ gave up on him against Atletico Madrid.
Reports claim Arsenal are minded to sell Ramsey, rather than allow him to run down his current deal, but losing a player of the Welshman’s quality would surely represent an early blow, given how highly Arteta rates his former midfield partner and the lack of funds he would have available to replace him.
‘A player like this coming from midfield to score that many goals gives you something extra,’ Arteta noted after Ramsey scored a last minute opening day winner against Crystal Palace back in August 2015.
‘He reminds me a bit of Fabregas when he was here. At his best, Fabregas was coming off the front, making the final ball and scoring very important goals.
‘I think he will get better with experience and confidence. People fear him now because they know he can create things and that gives you an extra yard, which is very important. ‘We don’t have someone to score 30 or 40 goals so players who can score from the middle is very important.’
Hector Bellerin Arsenal’s measly warchest totals just £50million after failing to qualify for the Champions League for the second year in succession, according to reports. Those transfer funds could well be boosted by the sales of several high-profile first team players and Bellerin, perhaps, represents the most expendable given his value allied to the lack of significant progress he has made in recent years.
The 23-year-old, who signed a long-term contract in October 2016, has nailed his colours to Arsenal’s mast in the last week, twice giving interviews in which he described London as his home.
Despite his public pledge of loyalty, Manchester United and Juventus, as well as his former club Barcelona, continue to monitor his situation carefully. Given he claims to have predicted Bellerin’s rapid rise, Arteta will no doubt hope to keep hold of his compatriot.
‘I’ve been really impressed with Hector since he came into the first team – perhaps even more with his attitude than his quality, because I knew all about that,’ Arteta said during Bellerin’s breakthrough 2014/15 season.
‘He has the attributes to become one of the club’s most important players. He is very brave, his decision making is good and he’s a great athlete. He is very open, he is willing to understand what the manager and the team want from him on the pitch and his attitude and contribution have been really good.’
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