Pep Guardiola would be reluctant to stand in Mikel Arteta’s way if he had the “privilege” of being offered the Arsenal job.
Arteta finished his playing career with the north London club in 2016 before joining Guardiola’s backroom staff at City.
The Gunners are on the lookout for a new head coach after Unai Emery was sacked in the aftermath of a 2-1 Europa League defeat to Eintracht Frankfurt that extended their winless run to seven matches.
Arteta has become an increasingly influential member of Guardiola’s coaching team, especially since long-time confidant Domenec Torrent left to take charge of MLS side New York City last year, and Raheem Sterling has credited extra sessions with the ex-Everton midfielder for aiding his rapid development.
His rising stock in the game means the 37-year-old is viewed as one of the favourites to succeed Emery, and Guardiola is realistic about the future of his right-hand man, who he has spoken of as a potential future City boss.
“I said many times to my players, my staff – all of them – they are free to do what they want to do,” Guardiola said ahead of Saturday’s Premier League match at Newcastle United, where City will aim to make a dent in their eight-point deficit to leaders Liverpool.
“I don’t want players [unhappy] because they don’t play. I want them to stay because they want to.
“The case with Mikel, the relationship, is more about the professional. He is a friend and I want the best for him.
“I want us to stay this season together, next season together, but I don’t know what’s going to happen or [what is] the best for him. But tomorrow, travel to Newcastle.”
Arteta was rumoured to be close to taking the Arsenal job before Emery won the nod from the Emirates Stadium hierarchy 18 months ago.
As another ex-Gunners favourite, Freddie Ljungberg, prepares to take charge of Arsenal for Sunday’s trip to Norwich City, Guardiola does not know whether that 2018 experience will weigh on Arteta’s mind if he is approached this time around.
— Arsenal (@Arsenal) November 29, 2019
“I don’t know the thoughts of the Arsenal board. Mikel, we speak quite often but I don’t know the plan for his future,” Guardiola said.
“Ljungberg is in the interim position, I don’t know if they are going to call Mikel in the next days.
“Hopefully he can stay with us. If there is some news, I think Arsenal will call the club. I don’t know.”
Guardiola added: “It’s an incredible honour that a prestigious club like Arsenal takes a look at our staff. It’s a privilege, good for Mikel and good for the club.
“All that we want is to protect him and hopefully Mikel can stay with us.”
by Getty Images