Manchester City assistant manager Mikel Arteta could be on his way back to Arsenal to replace Arsene Wenger as manager this summer, and The S*n say he could make Santi Cazorla his assistant.
The Gunners are believed have narrowed down their search for a new manager to Arteta and Juventus boss Massimiliano Allegri, who recently played down talk of him leaving the Old Lady. That leaves the Spaniard who made 150 appearances for Arsenal as a player.
And if he’s appointed Wenger’s successor, another Arsenal and Spain midfielder could be his assistant.
Cazorla has spent the last 19 months sidelined with an achilles that has threatened to end his playing career, but the Londoners are keen to keep him in a backroom capacity if it can’t be on the pitch anymore.
The 33-year-old joined the Gunners from Malaga in 2012 and has gone on to make 180 appearances in all competitions. Cazorla is a fan favourite and an intelligent footballer whose tactical insight could benefit Arteta.
Supporters will be fearful that bringing back former Arsenal players is more of a move to appease them rather than for the good of the club, but given the Gunners have finished outside of the top-four in each of the last two seasons winning just one FA Cup in the last three years, can Arteta and Cazorla do any worse?
Chief executive Ivan Gazidis is the man pushing for Arteta to replace Wenger. The former deep-lying playmaker was given a positive recommendation by Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola who would not stand in his way if he wanted to pursue a managerial career.
According to Sky Sports’ Guillem Balague via Daily Star, Tottenham Hotspur manager Mauricio Pochettino endorsed Arteta for the managerial role at City before he joined as an assistant. It’s clear he’s highly-rated, but can that translate into success at a club who have been underachieving for years?
Arsenal finished sixth in the Premier League with 63 points from 38 games this season. The Gunners ended up 12 points adrift of fourth-placed Liverpool and 37 points behind champions Manchester City.
Arsene Wenger’s men lost in the League Cup final to City in February and fell short in the Europa League semi-final to eventual winners Atletico Madrid earlier this month.
Their defence of the FA Cup saw them knocked out in the third round to Championship side Nottingham Forest. The bar for success has been set relatively low for Arteta as a result.
Getting back into the top-four is the first aim and adding silverware is always the icing on the cake. Arsenal certainly have the players to achieve that next season – Alexandre Lacazette, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Mesut Ozil make up their attacking quartet.
Arteta has spent two years at City and has already won the Premier League title and League Cup as a No.2. If he enlists the help of a long-serving fan-favourite like Cazorla, the pair could breed positivity at the Emirates which could help the players shed anxiety before games.
It’s worth noting that nothing has been confirmed yet, however.