Mikel Arteta’s chances of landing the Arsenal manager’s job have been boosted after he received a glowing reference from recently departed boss Arsene Wenger.
Former Arsenal captain Arteta has been heavily linked with succeeding Wenger, whose 22-year reign as manager came to and end at Huddersfield on Sunday.
While high-profile names such as Luis Enrique, Massimiliano Allegri and Carlo Ancelotti appear to be among the front-runners for the Emirates Stadium 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 insisted ever since it was announced he would leave the club that 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, yes, and I think as well he is one of the favourites,” the Frenchman told beIN Sports.
“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. Why not?
“He has been an assistant of Guardiola as well, so overall I think he has the qualities.
“I left a lot of experience behind me, people who were with me like (assistant manager) Steve Bould who has six years experience, and (coach) Jens Lehmann too.”
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.
Press Association Sport understands that as many as six other employees will depart.
Boro Primorac, a long-term coach and friend of Wenger, was always likely to leave and a number of other members of the backroom staff have also been relieved of their duties.
Colin Lewin, head of the club’s medical department, has been at the club a year longer than Wenger but will also be departing. Leaving too are coaches Neil Banfield, Gerry Peyton and Tony Colbert, with Paul Johnson leaving his post as equipment manager.
Wenger’s own future remains uncertain as he contemplates his next move but he did advise Arsenal before he left that they should get their new man in place well ahead of this summer’s World Cup.