On the 20th of April, Arsenal’s legendary manager Arsene Wenger announced that he would step down from his role at the end of the season. The Frenchman’s 22-year stint at the North London side has seen him lift three Premier League titles, one of which being an Invincible season, a record-breaking seven FA Cups and also seven Community Shield honours. From the days of “Arsene Who?” to his exciting confrontations with the likes of Sir Alex Ferguson and Jose Mourinho, the 68-year-old has played a significant role in the modern history of English football that may never be repeated.
The club’s Chief Executive, Ivan Gazidis, alongside his powerful team of Raul Sanllehi; Head of Football Relations, Sven Mislintat; Head of Recruitment, and, Huss Fahmy, Chief Negotiator, are believed to the ones behind deciding who replaces Wenger for the 2018/19 Premier League season. The following takes a look at the various realistic candidates that are currently being linked to succeed Arsene Wenger at Arsenal.
Previous Clubs: Aglianese (2003-04), SPAL 2013 (2004-05), Grosseto (2005-06), Sassuolo (2007-08), Cagliari (2008-10), AC Milan (2010-14), Juventus (2014-Present)
Trophies Won: Serie A (4), Coppa Italia (3), Supercoppa Italiana (2), Serie C1 (1)
SkyBet Odds – 11/4
The current Juventus boss, Massimiliano Allegri, is currently a heavy favourite, both in the bookies and amongst the fanbase, to become the club’s new manager.
The Italian manager has been very successful since taking charge of La Vecchia Signora, winning three consecutive doubles in his three full seasons at the club with the potential of a fourth successive double in the coming weeks. The 50-year-old also helped to take the Italian side to two Champions League finals but failed to win the tournament on both occasions against Barcelona and Real Madrid, respectively.
One of the biggest improvements Allegri could make to the current first-team is rejuvenating the Gunners’ midfield and defence. The Livorno-born manager has worked wonders with the likes of Paul Pogba and Miralem Pjanic in the past and would likely improve current players like Granit Xhaka and Aaron Ramsey and take them to the next level.
In addition, he has helped enhance his current side’s defence and often takes a more defensive approach to games as opposed to the possession-based football that Arsenal has seen over the last two decades. Being introduced to this type of tactician could definitely be of benefit to the club’s current best defender, Shkodran Mustafi. Also, the Italian is reportedly an admirer of Hector Bellerin and could play a crucial role in keeping him at the club – if the rumours of a potential exit are to be believed.
However, apart from a conflicting style of play to Arsene Wenger’s, one of the biggest downsides of bringing Allegri to the club is the fact that he values experience. Considering Arsenal are notorious and proud of their youth development, thanks to the work of the aforementioned Frenchman, it would be rather contradictory of the club to bring in a manager who wouldn’t follow this philosophy or style of football.
While his appointment could easily benefit the likes of Nacho Monreal and Henrikh Mkhitaryan in the foreseeable future, it could also be detrimental for academy players like Reiss Nelson and Ainsley Maitland-Niles who aspire to play in the first-team in the near-future.
This season, the only young Juventus player to gain proper first-team experience under Allegri is the exciting Uruguayan midfielder, Rodrigo Bentancur, who has played just over 500 minutes.
Previous clubs: Reggiana (1995-96), Parma (1996-98), Juventus (1999-01), AC Milan (2001-09), Chelsea (2009-11), PSG (2011-13), Real Madrid (2013-15), Bayern Munich (2016-17)
Trophies Won: Champions League (3), Club World Cup (2), Premier League (1), Bundesliga (1), Serie A (1), Ligue 1 (1), Intertoto Cup (1), FA Cup (1), Copa del Rey (1), Coppa Italia (1), Super Cup (3), Community Shield (1), DFL Supercup (2), Supercoppa Italiana (1)
SkyBet Odds – 9/1
Carlo Ancelotti, one of the most successful managers of all time, has reportedly always been keen on becoming Arsenal’s next manager following Wenger’s departure.
The 58-year-old previously managed at London rivals Chelsea but was sacked after two years in charge. Since his departure, Ancelotti has always hinted at having unfinished business in the Premier League due to his early exit, and succeeding Arsene Wenger at Arsenal could be exactly what he needs to finish his managerial career in England on a high.
Unlike Allegri, the Reggiolo-born manager would bring a much more favourable style of football to the club that would please the supporters and supports the philosophy that Gazidis’ would want the new manager to bring to the team.
However, while you can’t deny the fact that Ancelotti has done wonders in the sport as both a player and a manager, in the last decade the Italian has benefited from working with clubs of recent success. The likes of Bayern Munich and Paris Saint-Germain have dominated their respective league for years and Chelsea and Real Madrid are two other sides who have been consistently successful in their respective nation.
Should Carlo Ancelotti become the new Arsenal manager, it’s unknown what sort of impact he will make at the club or towards the players. It’s important to remember that the 58-year-old was one of the main reasons why world-class midfielder Mesut Ozil left Real Madrid for Arsenal in 2013, just months after the Italian took over from Mourinho.
There isn’t a transfer ‘war chest’ to improve the team, and the current side needs top coaching and training to get back into the Champions League places. At his last job, Bayern, some of his players were often critical of his training and coaching methods that could also cause problems for the club’s players.
If Ancelotti is appointed, fans could be on the verge of witnessing a recipe for a disaster.
SkyBet Odds – 8/1
Surprisingly, Manchester City assistant coach, and former Arsenal midfielder, Mikel Arteta is one of the rumoured names to become the club’s next manager.
The former Arsenal captain worked under Arsene Wenger, as a player, for five years before announcing his retirement in 2016 and joined Pep Guardiola’s coaching team at the Citizens.
Working under two of the greatest managers of all time, the Spaniard has learned a significant amount about managing, and would likely adopt a merged philosophy from the legendary managers. While no one actually knows, it seems likely the 36-year-old would want his team to play an attacking-based style of football that focuses on creativity and maintaining possession.
As expected, the biggest downside of appointing someone like Arteta is the obvious risk that comes with it. The Spaniard has no experience as a manager, and with that likely has no trustworthy backroom staff to join him – considering many of Wenger’s men will likely leave. It’s unknown if he’d offer youngsters first-team experience like the Frenchman or use a similar approach to Guardiola. If he were appointed, how would the current players treat him as a manager, especially considering many befriended him during his time as an Arsenal player?
Considering Arsenal are in need of a rebuild, it would be a big risk to appoint someone like Arteta – but it could just pay off.
Previous clubs: Neukirchen (1998-01)
SkyBet Odds – 3/1
In what is arguably the most shocking story yet, Liverpool’s assistant manager, Željko Buvač, is another candidate the Arsenal hierarchy are keen on to succeed Wenger. According to the rumours, Mislintat is the one believed to be a big admirer of the Bosnian.
The 56-year-old has only had one managerial role, taking charge of German side SC Neukirchen following his retirement from the sport in 1998. After three years at the club, Buvac switched to FSV Mainz 05 as the assistant manager to his former teammate, and friend, Jurgen Klopp. For the last seventeen years, he has gone on to be Klopp’s right-hand man, following him to Borussia Dortmund and also Liverpool, respectively.
Similarly to Arteta, there isn’t much known about the 56-year-old and what sort of impact he could have managing a club the size of Arsenal.
According to Klopp, the Bosnian-born coach is “the brains” in his coaching set-up. In addition, under Klopp’s management, Buvac’s work at Dortmund helped transform the team to produce an exciting attacking style of football.
Previous clubs: AS Roma (2011-12), Celta Vigo (2013-14), Barcelona (2014-17)
Trophies Won: Champions League (1), Club World Cup (1), La Liga (2), Copa del Rey (3), Super Cup (1), Supercopa de Espana (1)
SkyBet Odds – 7/2
According to various betting outlets, former Barcelona manager Luis Enrique is another candidate believed to be one of the front-runners for the Arsenal job. Regarding some of the rumours, Raul Sanllehi is believed to favour the Spaniard.
The Spaniard is currently taking a sabbatical following a three-year tenure at Spanish giants FC Barcelona, where he matched Pep Guardiola’s treble from the 2008/09 season. However, in the next two years, you could argue that he failed to meet expectations – despite winning a double in his second year in charge – considering the strength of his squad.
In order to get the most out of his attacking players, Enrique adopted a counter-attacking style of play to get the ball to the likes of Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez. Should the 47-year-old be selected for the manager’s job, it’d be interesting to see if this philosophy is used on the current Arsenal squad, or, if the manager would adapt to the players at his disposal.
As expected, possessing such an exciting trio – the former duo combined with the Brazillian winger, Neymar – produced a lot of success for Barcelona under Enrique’s management. Albeit this style brought noteworthy success to the club, the Spaniard has since been criticised for his overreliance on his world-class attacking players.
When comparing the two squads, it’s obvious Enrique wouldn’t receive as much freedom with Arsenal’s squad. There isn’t an abundance of world-class talent that the manager can rely on; if anything, the current team is in need of a revamp – despite the number of talented players available.
The Spaniard would be tasked with rebuilding and developing the current squad, rather than bring instant success to the club like at Barcelona. When looking at his previous management roles, it becomes unclear if he could actually any type of success to the North London club.
Apart from his tenure at the Catalan club, the 47-year-old has not found a lot of success in management. During his year tenure at AS Roma, Enrique failed to bring stability to the club and was constantly criticised by the fans on top of the media. In his other senior job, the Spaniard enjoyed some success at Celta Vigo, taking the club to 9th in the league in his only season in charge. The fact that Enrique’s various roles have been rather limited is another cause for concern amongst the Arsenal hierarchy.
Previous clubs: C.D. Aves (2011-12), Pacos de Ferreira (2012-13), Porto (2013-14), Pacos de Ferreira (2014-15), Braga (2015-16), Shakhtar Donetsk (2016-Present)
Trophies Won: Ukranian Premier League (1), Ukranian Cup (1), Taca de Portugal (1), Supertaca Candido de Oliveira (1), Ukranian Super Cup (1)
SkyBet Odds – 16/1
In terms of wildcard names being linked to the manager’s job, Shakhtar Donetsk boss Paulo Fonseca is an intriguing name being linked to the North London club.
The Portuguese manager has experienced various levels of success since his first senior managerial role at C.D. Aves in 2011. During a year-long stint at Pacos de Ferreira, the 45-year-old helped guide the team to 3rd in the Primeira Liga, seven places higher from the previous season. The league campaign was the Portuguese side’s highest ever finish as well as the only time they earned participation in the Champions League, entering the playoffs the following season.
Apart from his success at Pacos de Ferreira, the manager’s bright reputation was briefly damaged following a poor spell at Portuguese giants Porto. During his year at the club, the Azul e Brancos were unable to retain their league title, and lost out to their rivals, Benfica, by 13 points.
Albeit failing during his first stint at a top club, the manager was able to restore his reputation in the following seasons. Fonseca won the Taca de Portugal with S.C. Braga in 2016, the first time they won the trophy in 50 years and also helped current club Shakhtar Donetsk win a domestic treble during his first year in charge.
Fonseca is the type of manager who prefers to use a fluid, attacking based system as opposed to using a more defensive approach to games, but can be flexible with his tactics, if necessary. During attacks, players are encouraged to stretch the pitch with the fullbacks encouraged to push up, while off the ball his players are encouraged to press and take a more defensive approach if unavoidable.
Albeit he has enjoyed some success during his early managerial career, it’s important to note how quickly his tenures have lasted. Considering Arsenal are reportedly looking for a long-term manager, the Portuguese manager’s track record in the past doesn’t look the best.
Previous clubs: Camacha (2003-08), Chaves (2008-09), Beira-Mar (2009-11), Braga (2011-12), Olympiacos (2012-13), Sporting CP (2013-14), AS Monaco (2014-Present)
Trophies Won: Ligue 1 (1), Superleague Greece (1), Greek Football Cup (1), Segunda Liga (1), Madeira Cup (1)
SkyBet Odds – 10/1
Another name being thrown into the hat is current AS Monaco manager Leonardo Jardim. The Portuguese manager is my personal pick to become the next Arsenal manager. (And you can read more on that, in-depth, here.)
The 43-year-old has exceeding expectations during his four-year stint in charge of Les Monégasques, most notably winning the Ligue 1 as well as reaching the semi-finals of the Champions League with a rather young squad. Jardim has proven that he can find success working on a tight budget, and understands the importance of implementing young players.
Considering the number of exciting youngsters currently at the club, this is without a doubt exciting news. The likes of Reiss Nelson, Eddie Nketiah, and even Alex Iwobi could all significantly raise their game under the guidance of Jardim.
Similar to some of the other coaches on this list, the 43-year-old is another manager who has helped produce some exciting attacking football. During his time at the French club, he has often opted to use free-flowing attacking football as a result of the talented players he has. However, the Portuguese manager is very adaptable and can utilise a more defensive approach if necessary, as proven from his football when he first joined Monaco.
While there are multiple positives regarding the potential appointment of Jardim, it’s important to note that he seemingly doesn’t have the greatest success when handling egos. While Arsenal have not found much success in the last few years – apart from a few FA Cups – it’ll be interesting to see how the 43-year-old handles and manages players who have high aspirations.
Since his arrival at Monaco, crucial players like Kylian Mbappe, Anthony Martial, Bernardo Silva, and Benjamin Mendy have all departed for bigger clubs. Although Monaco has had financial problems, seeing a manager often sell his best players isn’t the greatest image to have, especially considering how much criticism Arsenal has received in the past for selling their best players below their market price.
Previous clubs: Watford (2008-09), Reading (2009), Swansea City (2010-12), Liverpool (2012-15), Celtic (2016-Present)
Trophies Won: Scottish Premiership (2), Scottish Cup (1), Scottish League Cup (2), EFL Championship Play-Off (1)
SkyBet Odds – 11/2
Amongst the list of managers being touted to become Arsenal’s next manager, the inclusion of Brendan Rodgers is rather surprising, yet also offers a lot of intrigue.
The Northern Irish manager is no stranger to English football, having previously managed the likes of Swansea City and Liverpool in the past. Rodgers is currently the manager at Scottish side Celtic, where he’s guided the club to two league triumphs – one of which being an Invincible season.
While many Arsenal fans are quick to dismiss Rodgers, it’s important to note that in recent years he’s gotten much closer to winning the Premier League than Wenger has – narrowly missing the title to Manchester City in the 2013/14 season.
The 45-year-old likes to deploy a possession-based style of football that the current Arsenal players can adapt to. Also, Rodgers would also be a good option considering his integration of younger players. Under his management, the likes of Raheem Sterling, Phillipe Coutinho, Kieran Tierney, and Kristoffer Ajer have all enjoyed constant playing experience in the first-team.
However, it’s important to note how poorly Rodgers departed his final job in England, Liverpool. His activity in the transfer window was anything but successful and the departure of Luis Suarez hit the Reds hard. They were unable to get close to that successful season, and the Northern Irish manager was relieved of his duties in October 2015 with the club sitting tenth in the league.
Considering Arsenal are in desperate need of a rebuild, it seems like a major risk to appoint someone like Rodgers, especially considering the previous point of how bad of a state he left the club in.
Previous clubs: New York City (2016-Present)
SkyBet Odds – 12/1
Last, but not least, Patrick Vieira is another heavily rumoured name being considered for the Arsenal job. The legendary midfielder is currently apart of City Football Group’s global brand, where he manages New York City FC.
After taking over the club in a poor state, the 41-year-old has done a fantastic job of improving the team to become one of the best in the MLS. The Pigeons currently sit at the top of the MLS Eastern Conference, winning six and drawing two of their opening nine fixtures.
Similar to some of the other candidates, Vieira would bring about a possession-based style of football that can easily be applied to the current Arsenal squad. It’d be rather intriguing to see how the Frenchman would teach some of the current midfielders at the club like Granit Xhaka and Ainsley Maitland-Niles.
However, with only one senior job to his name, his lack of experience is certainly a cause for concern, especially if he were to join a club the size of Arsenal. Vieria’s done a good job of improving his current club, but whether he could do that at a significantly bigger club is a completely different story.