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23rd Apr 2018

Ivan Gazidis has identified his top target to replace Arsene Wenger

A former fan favourite

Darragh Murphy

Arsene Wenger wasn’t the obvious choice to take over at Arsenal back in 1996 and perhaps the club will go in a similarly unexpected direction in the pursuit of his successor.

Arsenal”s chief executive, Ivan Gazidis, made it clear that the Gunners would “have to be bold” in their appointment of their new manager after Wenger announced last week that this season would be his last at the Emirates.

Decorated managers such as Luis Enrique and Carlo Ancelotti emerged as early favourites to take over from the Frenchman while club legends like Thierry Henry and Patrick Vieira also found themselves in the conversation.

However, according to Sky Sports, another former fan favourite currently finds himself atop the list of targets of Gazidis.

Mikel Arteta, who has been Pep Guardiola’s assistant at Manchester City for almost two years, made 149 appearances for Arsenal between 2011 and 2016 and is remembered fondly in North London.

The Spaniard was named Arsenal captain in 2014 and with the backing of Gazidis, it wouldn’t be surprising to see him take the helm at the Emirates in the summer.

“You don’t find a replacement for Arsene Wenger, you find a new path forward,” Gazidis said last week.

“The process begins today and this club has to rise to the challenge. The most important thing is to make the right appointment – not a quick appointment.

“When Arsene was appointed, I don’t think he was on many people’s radar. That doesn’t mean we have to repeat that but it does mean we have to be bold and get the person we believe is the right person.”

Owner Stan Kroenke will be the man who makes the final decision and while Gazidis’ recommendation of Arteta will undoubtedly be entertained, it’s understood that Enrique is favoured by Arsenal’s head of football operations, Raul Sanllehi, and both Julian Nagelsmann and Domenico Tedesco are top of the wishlist of head of recruitment, Sven Mislintat.