Mikel Arteta returns 'home' as new head coach of Arsenal

20 December 2019, 19:04

Mikel Arteta agreed a three-and-a-half-year contract with the Gunners
Mikel Arteta agreed a three-and-a-half-year contract with the Gunners. Picture: PA
Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

Former Manchester City assistant Mikel Arteta has agreed a three-and-half-year contract as Arsenal Football Club's new head coach.

The ex-Gunners captain will succeed former Arsenal boss Unai Emery, who was sacked last month following a poor run of form.

Arteta will be stepping into his first managerial role following the move and said he was ready for the challenge after returning "home" to his former club.

The 37-year-old Spaniard told Arsenal's website: "This is a huge honour. Arsenal is one of the biggest clubs in the world.

"We need to be competing for the top trophies in the game and that's been made very clear to me in my discussions with Stan and Josh Kroenke (owner and club director, respectively) and the senior people from the club.

"We all know there is a lot of work to be done to achieve that but I am confident we'll do it.

"I'm realistic enough to know it won't happen overnight but the current squad has plenty of talent and there is a great pipeline of young players coming through from the academy."

Arteta played more than 100 games for Arsenal, until he retired in 2016.

The Spanish footballer joined Manchester City's coaching team immediately after hanging up his boots, serving under Pep Guardiola's successful dynasty in the north-west.

Arsenal's 3-0 loss to City at the weekend cemented the need for the club to find a permanent replacement for Emery.

The ex-Everton midfielder Arteta was alongside Guardiola as he witnessed the demolition of the Gunners at the hands of his former employers.

They currently sit in tenth place in the Premier League table, as close to the relegation zone as they are to the top-four Champions League places.

Interim boss and fellow former Arsenal player Freddie Ljungberg has won just one of his four Premier League games in charge, while the club are on a run of only one win from their last 12 fixtures.

Arteta will leave Manchester City's coaching staff
Arteta will leave Manchester City's coaching staff. Picture: PA

Arsenal's head of football, Raul Sanllehi, said: "We met several top-class candidates and Mikel stood out to every single one of us as the perfect person for us.

"Mikel understands Arsenal Football Club and what it means to our fans around the world.

"We look forward to him getting down to work and bringing the best out of our squad as we work to get our season back on track."

Arteta will not be in charge of the side as the Gunners take on his former club Everton this coming Saturday afternoon.

Ljungberg will instead be in the dugout, with the Spaniard watching on from the stands.

Former boss Emery backed his successor, saying: "He really is prepared to make that next jump. He has been at Arsenal before, he's been in the Premier League and he has been working with Pep Guardiola.

"I do believe this is a good decision and I would also like it to be a good decision."

Manchester City bid farewell to their former employee with a statement from Guardiola on their official website.

"Mikel has been an excellent coach for Manchester City," he said.

"He has shown impressive dedication, hard work and knowledge of football during his time here and has been a real contributor to the club's achievements over the past years.

"We all wish him well in his new role; I am sure he is ready for it."