Pep Guardiola names his “best” replacement at Manchester City after he retires
Pep Guardiola, the manager of Manchester City, has suggested the ‘best’ name to succeed him when he leaves the Premier League champions.
With a game in hand midway through the Premier League season, Arsenal sits five points ahead of the reigning champions.
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Following a testing embryonic stage of development under the former City assistant coach, the Gunners have proven their mettle under Arteta, with many backing the north Londoners to go all the way in the title race.
Guardiola and Arteta have yet to meet in the Premier League this season, but they will do so on the touchline in an exciting FA Cup fourth round clash.
Guardiola, who signed a new two-year contract at the Etihad Stadium three months ago, admitted Arteta would have been his ideal replacement as head coach if the 52-year-old had parted ways with City earlier.
Guardiola praised his compatriot, saying, “I’m pretty sure if I leave (had left) before, he (Mikel Arteta) would be here” (at Manchester City).
“He’d be the best choice (to succeed me). Sorry, I extended the contract, and he went (to Arsenal).”
During his three-and-a-half year stint as assistant manager at the Etihad Stadium, Arteta was known for building strong relationships with the players, and Guardiola never shied away from praising the former Arsenal midfielder for his contributions.
“I’m not suspicious (of) all my comments about Mikel (Arteta) when he was here,” Guardiola continued.
“Even when he didn’t win championships. Arsenal’s expected demand. I knew what I thought back then, but not now with 50 points (league tally this season). I could tell he had talent when he was here.”
In delving deeper into their relationship at City, Guardiola emphasized Arteta’s love for Arsenal even when he wore sky blue between 2016 and 2019.
“I said many times to my players and staff,” Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola said. We believed that if one team could offer him (Arteta) the position of manager, he would leave.
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“I am not a guy to say, ‘Stay with me’. Everyone has hopes and dreams. I know he went to his club as a supporter and captain. He enjoys going to the club.
Except (against) one team, I remember him jumping a lot when we scored goals here (at City). He was sitting down. Arsenal was the culprit. I mentioned that he likes Arsenal.
“For example, if I’m training as an assistant and Barcelona calls, I go. People must fly when they believe it is the best option. If players are unhappy, they must leave because life is too short.”
Arteta has not beaten Guardiola since Arsenal’s 2-0 win over City in the FA Cup semi-finals in 2020.
The match, however, could not have come at a better time for the Premier League leaders, who are riding high after a thrilling 3-2 win over Manchester United at the weekend.