Arsene Wenger, the man formerly known as the Arsenal manager, has described Mikel Arteta as possessing “all of the qualities” to succeed him at the Emirates.
The 36-year-old Spaniard, who spent five seasons in north London under Wenger’s tutelage is the red-hot favourite to be appointed to the vacant hot seat, and the seal of approval from his mentor will only strengthen his hand.
“He has all the qualities to do the job, yes and I think as well he is one of the favourites,” said Wenger, who signed Arteta from Everton in 2011.
Speaking to broadcaster BFMTV, Wenger was asked why he believed Arteta was a good fit for the Gunners. “He was a leader, and he has a good passion for the game and he knows the club well, he knows what is important at the club and he was captain of the club,” he replied.
When Arteta called time on his career he moved north to learn the coaching trade under Pep Guardiola at Manchester City, and although he lacks managerial experience Wenger says there is a strong support staff already in place at the Emirates.
Wenger said: “I left a lot of experience behind me, people who were with me like Steve Bould who has six years’ experience, and Jens Lehmann too…
“[Arteta] has been an assistant of Guardiola as well, so overall I think he has the qualities.”
But Wenger made it clear he was merely speculating and from the moment he announced his decision last month to step down he had not been involved in the selection process.
“If the club had asked my opinion I would have given it,” he said. “Because I want my club to continue to do well and continue to play at the top.
“But they didn’t ask me, so that takes the weight away from me… I don’t want to influence that publicly because for me I believe it is important that they make their choice in an objective way and after once they make a decision I will support him.”
‘I am still in a state of shock’
In a separate interview published in The Guardian, Wenger admits he is still struggling to come to terms with his abrupt departure from the club he managed for 22 years.
“It’s just too soon to know what I will do next,” he confessed. “I haven’t even emptied my desk yet and in a way I am still in a state of shock.”
Asked about his future plans, he replied: “Spontaneously, I would say I still want to coach but I can’t really say that yet for sure… I need a challenge. I have lived and breathed football all these years and it’s a passion. I can’t imagine doing anything else.”
Meanwhile The Sun claims that Arteta “has been cleared by Manchester City chiefs to take over at Arsenal”. According to the paper, which quotes Spanish sources, Arteta was given permission to talk to Arsenal after meeting City manager Pep Guardiola and director of football Txiki Begiristain.
It’s believed that those negotiations are already underway with the Gunners keen to appoint their new boss as soon as possible to make it easier to attract big names in the summer transfer window.