Pep Guardiola 'keen' to replace Wenger as Arsenal manager
Source close to former Barcelona coach says if he comes to England, he wants it to be the Gunners
IT'S THE NEWS every Arsenal fan has been praying for. No, Gervinho hasn't joined Spurs, and nor has Andre Santos been offloaded to Chelsea. It's better than that: Pep Guardiola has disclosed he's up for the challenge of restoring the good name of the Gunners.
"Guardiola's preference in England is Arsenal," a source close to the Spaniard whispered to the respected football website Goal.com. "The club are aware he would be interested in the job in 2013."
The former Barcelona coach has been targeted by a host of top clubs across Europe ever since he stepped down from the Camp Nou last summer. Most recently Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich was allegedly on bended knee, pleading with Guardiola to take charge of the Blues after the dismissal of Roberto Di Matteo.
But it seems the Spaniard has a soft spot for the Gunners and, says Goal.com, his representatives "have let it be known to the north London club that he would be very keen" to lead Arsenal out of the wilderness into which they have wandered under Arsene Wenger.
Guardiola is currently hanging out in New York on a 12-month sabbatical but that hasn't stopped a slew of stories emerging in recent months linking him with AC Milan, Inter Milan, Bayern Munich and Paris Saint-Germain, not to mention Chelsea and Manchester City. He will apparently sit down in the New Year to consider his options.
During his four years in charge of Barcelona, Guardiola guided them to 14 trophies including two Champions League titles. His skill and reputation are too great to be trampled on by a know-nothing proprietor like Abramovich.
That explains why he apparently has no wish to go to Chelsea where the Russian has gone through nine managers in nine years. Arsenal, however, have a different and – dare one say it, more dignified - way of doing things and it's this approach that attracts the 41-year-old to the Emirates.
Arsene Wenger's current deal with Arsenal runs until the end of the 2013-14 season but it seems almost certain that the Frenchman won't see out his contract. With the club floundering in the Premier League, and following Tuesday's humiliation in the League Cup against Bradford, it's more a question of when Wenger will go rather than if.
For the moment, the Arsenal board continues to back Wenger, with chief executive Ivan Gazidis telling members of the Arsenal Supporters Trust that the manager would "get it right" from now on.
Gazidis met disgruntled Arsenal fans at a Christmas drinks reception at the Emirates on Wednesday, and as The Sun reports he admitted that defeat to Bradford was a new low for the club. "It was not good enough and it made us all upset and angry," he said. "I would like to apologise to all of you, especially the fans who travelled up there. It was unbelievable support, as ever, and you deserved better."
In which case, a good start might be for Gazidis to hop on a plane to New York, with a blank cheque book and a Spanish phrase book.