EXCLUSIVE | By Editor Wayne Veysey
Arsenal are top of Pep Guardiola’s Premier League wishlist, Football Insider sources understand.
The much-coveted Bayern Munich manager would prefer to manage the Gunners ahead of Chelsea and Manchester City.
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Representatives of Guardiola have let it be known to the north London club that he would be very keen to be considered for the manager’s job if it was to become available next year.
Arsene Wenger’s contract formally expires in 2017 but there remains the possibility that he could quit next summer if Arsenal once again fall short in the leading competitions.
Guardiola’s all-conquering Bayern team, who have won all 12 of their competitive matches this season, take on Arsenal in a Champions League group match at Emirates Stadium tonight that the Gunners must win to have a realistic chance of qualifying for the knockout stage.
The Spaniard spoke warmly of several Gunners players, name-checking Alexis Sanchez, Santi Cazorla and Theo Walcott, at his pre-match media conference, and observed that the home side were in “very good shape”.
Guardiola, who is in the final season of a three-year Bayern contract, will be in the frame for leading posts in England, as well as at Continental giants like AC Milan, Juventus, Inter Milan, and Paris Saint-Germain if he does not extend his deal with the German giants.
Sir Alex Ferguson has revealed Guardiola snubbed the opportunity to discuss the Manchester United post in the Spring of 2013, when he had already informally agreed to join Bayern Munich.
Guardiola’s next job is likely to be determined by timing and which positions are available.
Sources have said that Guardiola’s Premier League preference is to take the reins at Arsenal, ahead of Chelsea, Manchester City and United.
“Guardiola’s preference in England is Arsenal,” a source told Football Insider. “The club are aware he would be interested in the job at some point.
“Guardiola doesn’t want to go to Chelsea. He is worried about the lack of stability. He also has a good relationship with Wenger dating back to when he started doing his coaching badges at Arsenal.”
Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich has sounded out the 44-year-old on a number of occasions but Guardiola has strong reservations about taking a job where the manager’s position is so insecure.
Ex-Barcelona chiefs Ferran Soriano and Txiki Begiristain are on the board at City, where Manuel Pellegrini’s position is in doubt in the medium and long-term, while Louis van Gaal is not yet halfway through a three-year United deal.
Of the English elite who could be searching for a new manager, Arsenal have the history, prestige and stability that only United can beat and there is a real possibility that Wenger’s reign could come to an end next summer.