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Arteta has qualities to succeed me at Gunners, says Wenger

 

By Mark Mann-Bryans

Mikel Arteta's chances of landing the Arsenal manager's job have been boosted after he received a glowing reference from departed boss Arsene Wenger.

Former Arsenal captain Arteta has been heavily linked with succeeding Wenger, whose 22-year reign as manager came to an end at Huddersfield on Sunday.

While high-profile names such as Luis Enrique, Massimiliano Allegri and Carlo Ancelotti are among the front-runners for the Emirates role, Arteta has emerged as a serious contender.

The 36-year-old ended his career with the Gunners, retiring in 2016 before taking a role on Pep Guardiola's coaching staff at Manchester City.

After helping the club win a Premier League and Carabao Cup double, Arteta could now be set for a return to north London - especially as he is reportedly the preferred candidate of Arsenal chief executive Ivan Gazidis.

Wenger has always insisted he would play no part in appointing his successor, but he had kind words for his former skipper.

"He has all the qualities to do the job, he is one of the favourites," the Frenchman said. "He was a leader, has a good passion for the game, knows the club well, knows what is important and he was captain. Why not?

"He has been an assistant of Guardiola as well, so overall I think he has the qualities.

"I left experience behind, people who were with me like (assistant manager) Steve Bould who has six years experience, and (coach) Jens Lehmann."

Bould and Lehmann are two members of the club's coaching staff who have not followed Wenger out of the club as an overhaul of the backroom staff continues.

Arsenal appointed Raul Sanllehi as head of football relations and named Sven Mislintat as the head of recruitment while Wenger was still at the helm, loosening the 68-year-old's grip on the club's wider operations.

It is understood as many as six other employees will depart.

Boro Primorac, a long-term coach and friend of Wenger, was always likely to leave.

Colin Lewin, head of the club's medical department, has been at the club a year longer than Wenger but will also leave. Leaving too are coaches Neil Banfield, Gerry Peyton and Tony Colbert, with Paul Johnson leaving his post as equipment manager.

Meanwhile, Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi could have played together at Arsenal had things worked out differently.

Wenger has revealed how he tried to sign both superstars.

Instead, Ronaldo went to Manchester United before going on to Real Madrid, while Messi remained at Barcelona.

The Frenchman said: "The obvious player (Arsenal missed out on) is Ronaldo. He was here with his mother and we were very close. Then United came in and they had Carlos Queiroz at the time, who was their coach. United played against Sporting Lisbon and Ronaldo was outstanding and they signed him.

"We were at £4.5m, but Man United went to £12m, which we could not afford at the time.

"I met Cesc's (Fabregas) parents and at the time we were interested in Messi and (Gerard) Pique. We tried for the three but of course it didn't work out... because of the agents.

"With Messi, Barca didn't want to lose him and made (the offer) that was needed to keep him."

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