By Editor Wayne Veysey
Arsene Wenger has dropped a big hint that he will bring down the curtain on his 19-year Arsenal reign when his current contract expires.
Speaking to shareholders at the club AGM on Thursday, Wenger revealed that he wants to leave a strong legacy for the next manager.
Yet the possibility exists that the 65-year-old Frenchman could step down next summer, rather than when his contract formally expires in 2017, in order to usher in a new manager better able to take the club to the next level. Football Insider analyses five candidates to succeed the Frenchman and become the next Arsenal manager.
Managerial honours: La Liga x3, Fifa Club World Cup x3, Champions League x2, Bundesliga x2, Copa Del Rey x2, DFB-Pokal
Odds: 6/1 (Skybet)
Ticks every box. Dynamic, charismatic and driven serial winner who produces teams that play fantasy football. Shaped Barcelona into possibly the greatest club team of all time and, at Bayern Munich, has extended the gap between Germany’s strongest club and the rest of the Bundesliga. Were he to guide Bayern to the Champions League title, all debates about the greatest modern manager would probably be over. An excellent communicator who speaks good English, Guardiola is a perfect fit for the Premier League big-hitters and could be on the market next summer if he does not extend his Bayern contract. Would Arsenal be ruthless enough to say ‘thank you’ but au revoir to Wenger in order to go head to head with Manchester City and others to seduce a coach who could take the club to the next level?
Verdict: Arsenal would love to have him. At some point. Would he love to have them in return?
Managerial honours: None
Odds: 33/1 (Skybet)
The least experienced manager on this list, Monk has impressed at Swansea after Michael Laudrup was surprisingly axed 18 months ago. Has improved on the work of Laudrup and the Dane’s predecessor Brendan Rodgers by steering the Welsh club to eighth in last season’s Premier League and they have made another fine start to the new campaign. Annointed as the next great thing in British management, just as Rodgers was before him, Monk is also interesting the powers-that-be at Arsenal. However, managing mid-tier Swansea is one thing. Being at the helm at a club with huge expectations and an 11-year title itch that needs scratching is another.
Verdict: Still just 36 and undoubtedly one to watch but seems unlikely, due to his lack of experience. His big move will surely come, just maybe not yet.
Managerial honours: Champions League x3, Premier League, Serie A, Ligue 1, FA Cup, Coppa Italia, Supercoppa Italiana, Copa Del Rey.
Odds: 40/1 (Skybet)
Impeccable pedigree and a wealth of experience. Has been there, done it and raised his eyebrow at elite clubs in Italy, Spain, England and France. After deciding to take a break from management and put his feet up at his Canadian hideaway following the end of his two-season Real reign, he has the great advantage of being free and available next summer. What’s more, Ancelotti is an Anglophile and a Premier League winner. One of just two managers to have won three European Cups (the other being Bob Paisley), the Italian’s CV is mightily impressive. More manager than coach, he is an ideal fit for a well-established club with a strong squad, money and aiming to move from B to A. Like Arsenal. Yet the likelihood is that he will have secured new employment before the end of this season and this particular boat will have sailed on by.
Verdict: An outstanding candidate who will be in high demand when he ends his sabbatical. The big question mark is whether he will still be available when Wenger steps down.
Managerial honours: Bundesliga x2, German Super Cup x3, DFB-Pokal
Odds: 10/1 (Skybet)
Yes, he has only just taken charge at Liverpool. And, yes, the red half of Merseyside would never forgive him were he to jump into the arms of Arsenal 18 months later. But he is the bookies’ second favourite to replace Wenger for good reason. Universally regarded as a great coup by Liverpool, his qualities would be equally admired by the Londoners. Klopp helped Borussia Dortmund punch above their weight as they not only went toe to toe with the mighty Bayern for many years but also elbowed their way in among Europe’s heavyweights. His reputation is likely to remain intact whatever happens at Liverpool and the experience he gains managing a Premier League heavyweight could make him even more attractive to future employers.
Verdict: Seemingly unlikely but were he to achieve big things quickly at Liverpool but be unconvinced by the club’s ambition, a move down south is not out of the question.
Managerial honours: FA Cup, League One
Odds: 14/1 (Skybet)
Strong communicator and driven football man with a reputation for producing attractive teams that punch above their weight. His amiable demeanour masks a steely personality and a strong ambition. Has carefully mapped out his managerial career and had the confidence to reject the Liverpool job before Rodgers was appointed. After an outstanding debut season at Everton was followed by a mediocre one, Martinez has enhanced his credentials in recent months by fighting off Chelsea’s interest in John Stones and then overseeing an excellent start to the season by the Merseysiders.
Verdict: One to watch but would probably need to guide Everton to a top-four Premier League finish to warrant an approach from Arsenal.