With time ticking for the Spaniard, which manager could Arsenal potentially replace him with?
The pressure is already cranking up on Mikel Arteta and his Arsenal side following an opening day defeat to newly promoted Brentford and a disappointing showing against European Champions Chelsea.
After an 8th place finish last season, time is of the essence for the Spaniard whose time may be running out. We look at who could be the Arteta replacement should Stan Kroenke decide to change the leadership at the club.
- Antonio Conte
A proven winner for every club he has managed, you could suggest Antonio Conte as the standout Arteta replacement and choice for any club on their quest back to glory – and quickly.
Following three successive Scudetto victories at his beloved Juventus, a Premier League title with Arsenal rivals Chelsea and ending Inter Milan’s ten-year title hiatus to make them Champions of Italy again, the Italian is almost guaranteed silverware – provided he is given the correct tools.
As is well known, Conte demands incredible effort from his players and financial backing from his board which would be worthy of any title ambition, and this disagreement reportedly resulted in him parting ways with Inter due to planned financial cuts from the club president Steven Zhang.
The troubled Italian Champions have ultimately allowed their talisman and catalyst in their title victory, Romelu Lukaku, to leave prematurely and the talented Hakimi Achraf has joined PSG.
Alongside being the highest paid manager in Serie A by some distance with a reported £10.2m annual salary, it led him to Daniel Levy’s office at Spurs where the dizzying figure was no issue.
However, ultimately the same problems arose – a lack of planned financial backing which Conte was not content with and subsequently led to the collapse of the deal.
With Arsenal renowned for being the lesser spenders compared to the top six clubs in the Premier League yet in need of a drastic overhaul in culture and recruitment, the question remains.
Arsenal need a winner, but with Antonio Conte, it most definitely comes at a price.
2. Leonardo Jardim
After his famously talented Monaco side of 2016/2017 released Paris-Saint Germain’s tight grip of French football with a Ligue 1 title and announced itself on the European stage, harbouring many of today’s world talents including Kylian Mbappe, it was the manager in the background pulling the strings.
After nurturing and overseeing the recruitment of his successful Monaco side which was testament to his management and an eye for talent, he would seem to be the ideal Arteta replacement.
Two years on, the Barcelona-born manager now finds himself in Saudi Arabia managing Al-Hilal after signing a one-year deal in May 2021.
Still only 46-years-old and seemingly in a temporary role for the foreseeable future, Jardim would fit Arsenal’s requirements and philosophy of possessing a clear recruitment strategy, attractive style of play and most importantly, previous success with a limited budget.
3. Brendan Rodgers
When Liverpool famously came up short in the title race of 2013/2014 with Brendan Rodgers at the helm it was clear that despite the failure to win the Premier League, there was a supremely talented manager whose stock was rising.
After winning seven trophies with Celtic and an FA Cup with Leicester City, who maintained consistent top four challenges in which the recruitment and improvement of his players has been clear throughout, it has proven he belongs at the highest level.
The Foxes manager has been involved in title challenges and top four contests, tasting success on a relatively modest budget – characteristics which fit the criteria for what Arsenal are looking for, and a man who addresses many of the club’s flaws.
Ten years ago, a potential move from Leicester to Arsenal would be a decision which wouldn’t require much thought. However, times have changed. And the landscape looks gravely different in 2021.
With Leicester’s trajectory going from strength to strength each season, Rodgers is firmly positioning the club as a top six side which is here to stay.
Whether the history and size of a club like Arsenal could persuade the Leicester manager to leave the blossoming project he is at the helm of remains to be seen, but Arsenal need Rodgers more than Rodgers needs them.
4. Julen Lopetegui
Following the turbulent year of 2018 which resulted in Lopetegui being sacked just two days before Spain’s first World Cup group game, and then dismissed by Real Madrid after just 14 games in charge, his subsequent rise has been admirable.
His fast-build up, possession-based approach with his Sevilla side maintaining an average of 56.8% possession in the 2020/21 season, led to his revival with an impressive Europa League victory against Inter Milan as well as going toe-to-toe with the big three Spanish clubs in La Liga last season.
After rejecting Daniel Levy’s approach to take over Jose Mourinho’s reign as Tottenham manager last summer, he is not led by money but by the project.
“I am passionate for English football, where this is a culture of believing in mid- and long-term projects”Julen Lopetegui speaking with The Guardian, 2016.
Though he may be seen as a more of a roll of the dice than Conte or Rodgers, his philosophy, continuous personal development and natural coaching ability certainly fits the Arsenal DNA.
5. Xabi Alonso
A genius mind on the pitch who could read games effortlessly and an intelligent person off the pitch who speaks four languages fluently.
Following his steps into management, it’s no surprise of the praise and expectancy Xabi Alonso has received from important figures in football.
After being under the tutelage of great managers like Pep Guardiola, Vicente Del Bosque and Jose Mourinho amongst others, the expectation may well be warranted.
Currently managing the U19s at his childhood club Real Sociedad, he has impressed having guided them to the top of the division.
Although nearly joining Borussia Monchengladbach in May which ultimately resulted in the German side opting for Marco Rose instead, Alonso’s stock continues to rise and it could be a matter of time until he is lined up for a top European job.
An Arteta replacement of this kind would be deemed as risky yet the situation may just require something drastic soon.
A diamond in the rough potentially, but can Arsenal afford more time to an inexperienced manager as an Arteta replacement who similarly lacks managerial experience?
Who would your ideal replacement for Mikel Arteta be? Leave your thoughts in the comments below