After days of speculation, Arsenal are set to appoint someone completely unexpected as the replacement to Arsene Wenger. Former Paris Saint-Germain boss Unai Emery has emerged as the favourite to be the next Gunners manager. The Spaniard was in London on Monday, and Sky Sports reported that he will be confirmed and unveiled at the Emirates this week.
It was understood until last week that former Arsenal midfielder Mikel Arteta was the favourite to take over, but the Manchester City assistant manager was ruled out of the running on Monday after unfulfilled demands over transfer activities. He will continue to be Pep Guardiola’s number 2 at the Etihad Stadium, as things stand. According to Spanish football expert Guillem Balague, a total of 10 potential candidates were interviewed for the job, before the club zeroed in on Emery.
The 46 year-old leaves the French capital after winning six trophies in two season, including the domestic treble last year. He has been winning trophies on a regular since 2013, when a run of three successive Europa League wins as manager of Sevilla begun. With Arsenal in the competition next season after their 6th placed finish in the league, Emery will be looking to keep that run going, especially as revised rules now mean that winning the tournament guarantees qualification for the UEFA Champions League the following season.
Emery may not be the highest-profile number the club could have announced, and is certainly not of the caliber of Massimiliano Allegri and Luis Enrique, who were also mentioned as potential candidates. However, he does have experience at the highest level, and could be a better option than Arteta or Patrick Vieira, who are untested as managers in the higher echelons of European football. He doesn’t speak English fluently yet, and only time will tell whether this risk will pay off or not.
Arsenal also announced the departure of midfielder Santi Cazorla, after six years at the club. The Spaniard has been extremely unfortunate with injuries in the last couple of seasons, making only 8 league appearances since 2016. He didn’t play a single game in any competition in the 2017/18 campaign. In all, he scored 29 goals in 180 matches for the club, winning two FA Cups in the process. He was, undoubtedly one of the most talented players to play for the club in recent years, and his fitness would have been the solution to so many of Wenger’s midfield woes over the past couple of seasons.
The club also announced Petr Cech as the new number 1 for next season. The Czech Republic international wore the number 33 shirt since moving from Chelsea in 2015. There were several indications last season though, that he is past his best, and Arsenal could be looking for a replacement in the summer.
There were other changes to kit numbers as well, with Mohamed Elneny and Hector Bellerin changing to numbers 4 and 2 from 35 and 24, respectively. Midfielder Granit Xhaka traded in number 29 to go for 34 instead.
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