Arsenal are reportedly planning for life without Mikel Arteta as the club have a manager in mind who is in ‘pole position’ to succeed the Spaniard.
The timing of this feels pretty bizarre as Arteta’s stock as Arsenal manager has never been higher.
The former Man City assistant was under pressure heading into this season after Arsenal narrowly missed out on a place in the top four last term.
But Arteta has helped Arsenal surpass expectations this term as they are mounting a sustained challenge for the Premier League title.
The Gunners are currently eight points clear of Man City, but Pep Guardiola’s team have a game in hand. Arsenal’s title hopes have been boosted by their run of winning seven games in a row in the Premier League.
Arteta is under contract until 2025 and he has been linked with La Liga giants Real Madrid in recent months.
Italian outlet Tuttosport (via Sport Witness) are reporting that Brighton and Hove Albion boss Roberto De Zerbi has been ‘identified’ as a ‘potential candidate’ to succeed Arteta.
There has been a ‘very juicy indiscretion’ as the Brighton manager’s agent – Edoardo Crnjar – has ‘received signals’ from Arsenal over an approach to his client.
The report goes on to claim De Zerbi will be in ‘pole position’ to replace Arteta if he ‘helps the Gunners win the title and feels his cycle at the club has come to an end’.
A separate report from Fabrizio Romano has confirmed that it will cost €13m to pay De Zerbi out of his contract at Brighton.
‘The fixes price for anyone wishing to acquire Roberto De Zerbi is now known: €13m,’ Romano wrote for Caught Offside.
‘That is the amount it will take to prise him from the Seagulls in the summer, but not before. Until then he will focus on Brighton and we will see what happens at the end of the season.’
Arsenal are in action against Liverpool this weekend. Gary Neville thinks the Gunners “will win” the Premier League if they pick up all three points at Anfield.
“I think City might still do it. I’m not going to put everything on the Liverpool game, our manager used to say to us, ‘You win at Anfield, you win the league’,” Neville said.
“If it was at this time of year quite often that proved to be the case. If Arsenal go to Anfield and win, I would definitely say it would be their title, because the confidence from that would be unbelievable.
“Anfield is a terror of a place to go, but if they lose at Anfield it then becomes a title race. I’m saying they’re going to lose it just because they lose at Anfield, but if they win at Anfield I think they will win it.”