Mikel Arteta held productive talks with Arsenal on Tuesday about succeeding Arsene Wenger and floated appointing Santi Cazorla as his assistant, according to reports.
The north London club are pushing ahead with their search for a replacement for Wenger, who has ended his 22-year association with the club, and want a new manager in place before the start of the World Cup.
Although experienced coaches likes Juventus boss Max Allegri and former Barcelona manager Luis Enrique have been linked with the post, Arteta is now emerging as the favourite.
Arsenal’s hierarchy are believed to be leaning towards a ‘rookie’ coach and Arteta has a growing reputation thanks to two years learning under Pep Guardiola at Manchester City.
And now The Independent report that Arteta’s chances of replacing Wenger have progressed after fresh talks with the club, while he is already thinking about his backroom team.
The Spaniard is considering compatriot Cazorla – who he played alongside at Arsenal – as an assistant, and the playmaker could be offered a player-coaching role.
Arteta will also weigh up including Wenger’s assistant Steve Bould in his staff, though the former centre-back is undecided about remaining at the club.
The Gunners have already axed a number of Wenger’s old support staff, such as right-hand man Boro Primorac, and Arteta wants to bring in at least three of his own appointments.
Although Arteta is now Ivan Gazidis’ preferred choice, Arsenal’s hierarchy are still expected to meet with other candidates and want to complete a thorough search before finally settling on Wenger’s successor.
And now the Daily Mail report that Arsenal have informed the squad that Arteta is ‘90% certain’ to replace Wenger.
The Spaniard is the preferred choice of both Ivan Gazidis and Josh Kroenke, son of owner Stan, and the club are now preparing to fast-track his appointment.
Although Arsenal’s board had only set a deadline of the World Cup to find a new manager, the Daily Mail claim Arteta’s arrival could be ratified by the end of the week.
The hastiness of Arteta’s arrival owes much to the dearth of genuine competition for the role, with Enrique’s wage demands too high and Allegri inclined to stay at Juventus, with the Italian also wanting more control over transfers than Arsenal were prepared to allow.
Head of football relations Raul Sanllehi would have preferred Enrique, while Sven Mislintat’s choice of Julian Nagelsmann will not be allowed to leave Hoffenheim in the summer.
Arteta is keen to take over the reins at Arsenal and is already thinking about his backroom team, with Gunners midfielder Santi Cazorla in consideration to be given an assistant role and a player-coach contract.
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