By London correspondent Tony Hughes
Mikel Arteta has dropped a big hint that he could join the Tottenham coaching staff in the summer.
The Arsenal midfielder is out of contract next month and, as revealed by Football Insider in February, is weighing up retirement from playing.
Arteta said on Sunday he is “99 per cent” sure that the time has come to retire as he decides whether to take up coaching offers at one of Manchester City, Arsenal or Tottenham.
Incoming Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has sounded out Arteta about joining his coaching set-up at Etihad Stadium. Arteta is a friend of Guardiola and his fitness coach, Lorenzo Buenaventura, and visited the pair recently at Bayern Munich’s Säbener Strasse training headquarters.
Another option is for Arteta to make what would be a seismic switch from Emirates Stadium to White Hart Lane and join the Spurs coaching staff.
The Arsenal captain played alongside Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino when they were together at Paris Saint-Germain at opposite stages of their careers, with Arteta claiming his former team mate was “like a Dad” and one of the biggest influences on his career.
The third option is for Arteta to remain at Arsenal and progress through the coaching ranks at the club where he has spent the last six years.
The Spaniard has begun preparing for his post-playing days by starting to take his coaching badges at Arsenal and has been working with the club’s academy during his increasingly frequent absences from the first team.
Asked if he is definitely retiring, Arteta told the Telegraph: “I am going to leave one per cent because in football one per cent is a lot and things can twist very quickly.
“But I have different options now. It is very unusual to have opportunities at this level. I have been watching football in the last few months – or probably over a year – not as a player, more as a coach. I don’t want to say the clubs but I have three very different options and I am very proud because it is not common.”
Although Arteta did not name the three clubs, a well-placed source has said they are City, Tottenham and current club Arsenal.
“I have been left the door very open and I may have to make a decision,” Arteta said to the Telegraph in reference to his current club. “I have so much respect for this club, what they think about me and what they have shown in the last few weeks that they want to do with me, that I cannot talk about any other things.”
Although the prospect of an Arsenal player moving on to the coaching staff of the club’s biggest rivals Tottenham might be more palatable for supporters than a playing move, it would still be regarded as a shock given the antipathy between the two sets of fans.
Only 15 players in the history of English football have played for both Arsenal and Tottenham, and even fewer have made the direct switch from one club to another.
The two most recent examples are William Gallas, who transferred from the Gunners to Spurs in 2010, and Sol Campbell, who ran down his contract to move in the opposite direction in 2001.
In other Tottenham news, Jamie Carragher has claimed Spurs have had a better season than Arsenal.