Mikel Arteta’s return to Arsenal as manager has been confirmed after the former midfielder quit his role as No 2 to Pep Guardiola at Manchester City. The appointment comes after Arsenal cancelled Freddie Ljungberg’s Thursday pre-match press conference for the Everton game while a £2million compensation deal was agreed with City following talks this week.
City sources labelled Arsenal’s attitude over the pursuit of Arteta ‘shambolic’ and ‘disrespectful’, although they were never going to stand in the Spaniard’s way. Arteta makes his first move into management with his old side after his appointment was rubber-stamped by Gunners director Josh Kroenke.
A meeting with Kroenke on Monday evening came after the new boss had talks lasting two-and-a-half hours with the Gunners managing director Vinai Venkatesham and chief negotiator Huss Fahmy at Arteta’s home in Manchester until 1.20am on Monday morning. Arteta, who was Guardiola’s assistant since 2016, expressed his interest in the Arsenal job after Unai Emery was sacked last month.
Ljungberg, another former Gunners midfielder, has been in temporary charge but the team is in a miserable run of form – winning just one of their five games. Arteta had been part of Guardiola’s coaching team as City beat Arsenal 3-0 on Sunday afternoon to bring an end to Ljungberg’s stint in the dugout. And he was back in the City dugout for Wednesday’s Carabao Cup win at Oxford before sealing his switch to north London.
Arsenal had at least 10 names on their original list of candidates, including Mauricio Pochettino, Brendan Rodgers and Nuno Espirito Santo. But they have decided that Arteta, who played for them between 2011 and 2016, is the right man to replace Emery on a permanent basis. There was also concern that managerless Everton could also step up their interest in Arteta, who spent six seasons as a player at Goodison Park.
There was a feeling at Arsenal ahead of Sunday’s 3-0 loss to City that the issue needed to be cleared up this week. Arteta was close to being appointed Arsenal manager following Arsene Wenger’s departure in 2018, but doubts over his lack of experience from certain board members eventually resulted in the club naming Emery.
Arteta’s exit will come as a significant blow to Guardiola and his players. The Spaniard had a great influence at City, playing a significant role during sessions on a day-to-day to basis. Kevin De Bruyne recently admitted the City players were bracing themselves for Arteta’s eventual move into management.
‘He came here three years ago, and had to find his way a little bit, because to transition from player to coach is a little bit different,’ said the Belgian. ‘He is finding his role really, really good right now. I guess one day he will want to be a head coach.
‘He is helping us a lot, but if he gets a good opportunity to be a head coach, and he thinks it’s time for him to take that, I think as a club you need to let somebody go. ‘You want to grow as a head coach, I guess. If he doesn’t, it’s his decision, but why, otherwise, start coaching in that way?’ During his time at Arsenal Arteta won the FA Cup twice.