Here’s some free advice for Arsenal: Get Mikel Arteta a new contract as soon as possible.
Strike while the iron is hot. Liverpool are entering a period of uncertainty when Jurgen Klopp leaves at the end of the season, and there are persistent rumors that Pep Guardiola will soon feel his job is done at Manchester City. Who knows how Guardiola will react if City are severely punished for alleged spending breaches after the Premier League hearing.
What a message it would be if Arteta committed to the Emirates for another four years and promised to reap the benefits of the foundations he has laid.
At the start of next season, Liverpool will be fighting to maintain stability and the questions for Guardiola will continue until he confirms his intentions after the final year of his contract in the summer of 2025. Who will be better placed than Arsenal and Arteta in the competition? post-Klopp and Guardiola Premier League era? Manchester United have only just begun their revolution, and we have seen how much work remains to be done at Chelsea over the course of this season.
Perhaps there will be a seamless transition at City and Liverpool after Klopp and Guardiola leave. More likely is the prospect of them falling back into the pack.
We cannot escape the importance of Sunday’s meeting between Liverpool and Arsenal for the 2024 title race.
But the future must always be considered as much as the here and now.
I have no doubt there will be plenty of concern in North London if Arsenal don’t beat Liverpool this weekend, or if they can’t keep up with City as the champions ruthlessly find their usual top outfit in the title race.
Whatever the outcome, my message to Arsenal fans is: don’t panic. The team still has a chance this season and will be in the hunt next season and beyond by keeping the roster and coaching staff intact. Patience is one of the hardest qualities to master in football – especially when it felt like Arsenal were one step away from this campaign – but it pays to look at the bigger picture in this case. If Arsenal were to lose Arteta in 2025 – when his current contract expires – it would feel like they are losing a huge opportunity they have been working towards, even though everyone will of course want the title sooner or later.
There is no substitute for continuity, and that is what Liverpool will be looking for in those they consider as Klopp’s replacement. That seamless transition is notoriously difficult to execute, especially when the backroom staff moves along with the manager. When players embrace a successful formula, they want their routines to be known.
Arsenal’s advantage heading into the summer is that they have a young squad that is still developing. Whenever we pass judgment on a team’s performance over the past five years, we must emphasize how unprecedented the standards of the title winners have been. Playing against City last season, and this time against Liverpool and City, Arteta is up against two of the best coaches in Premier League history. He’s not yet at their level, but everything he’s done so far suggests he’s capable of leading a team to the biggest trophies, including the Premier League title.
It is inevitable that the ridiculous standards at the top will fall once Klopp and Guardiola are gone, no matter how good their replacements are.
Arsenal have been trying to follow a similar path to Klopp’s Liverpool in recent seasons.
There is some irony that as the teams prepare to meet on Sunday, we may soon find ourselves in a world where Liverpool are keeping a close eye on what Arsenal have done as they look at the credentials of Klopp’s successor.
Arteta’s work in his first managerial role will be informative for Fenway Sports Group as they hear the arguments for and against frontrunner Xabi Alonso.
Arteta was a gamble when he stepped up in 2019 and embarked on a challenging rebuilding job.
That was a talking point from day one, with Raul Sanllehi, then head of football at Arsenal, questioning whether it was right to ignore more experienced coaches.
“It depends on how you define experience,” Sanllehi said.
“There is certainly a risk, but it is not on the experience side. You never really know until you try.”
Arsenal had done enough due diligence to realize that Arteta was a top manager in the making.
Whether they win the title under him or not, no one will doubt that he has been a great appointment.
Although Alonso is already head coach at Bayer Leverkusen, there have been similar suggestions that it is ‘too early’ for him to be elevated to a club of Liverpool’s stature, otherwise FSG risks following the trend of clubs making romantic arrangements to make. instead of a logical appointment.
Arteta has shown the benefits of a studious, intelligent and progressive young coach with an emotional bond with the club. The comparison also feels particularly relevant in this case, as Arteta and Alonso are childhood friends, born in the same city of San Sebastian, receiving the same football training in their early years and later benefiting from the wisdom of some of the greatest minds.
Just as Arteta was mentored by Guardiola, Alonso played under three of the most successful coaches of all time: Guardiola, Mourinho and Carlo Ancelotti.
There is no other manager flourishing in world football who has been trained by these three professors.
There are players who you intuitively know will become leaders.
Xabi falls into that category and he had the feeling that he would become a coach when we were still teammates. At his peak, he wasn’t just playing the game. He read it. The biggest compliment for Xabi is that if Liverpool don’t sign him, you can easily imagine him being discussed by Bayern Munich and Real Madrid.
There are many big clubs who will soon be looking for the next big thing in management.
However, it would be bizarre if the Arsenal job were vacant in the near future. Arteta’s strong reaction to the link with the Barcelona job – a huge compliment under normal circumstances – underlined that he is a coach who recognizes that his team has not yet reached the ceiling.
Arsenal and Arteta have done their utmost to reach a point where they are ready to pounce if City and Liverpool make a mistake.
That could happen on Sunday. It could happen if Klopp leaves in a few months. Or it could happen if Guardiola leaves in 2025. If not, Arsenal must take action now to ensure they and Arteta are ready to respond when it eventually happens in 2026.