‘He would be here and he would be the best’: Pep Guardiola reveals Mikel Arteta could have been Manchester City’s next manager but he ‘didn’t wait’ to take the helm at the Etihad, opting to rebuild Arsenal
Pep Guardiola revealed ahead of Friday night’s FA Cup clash with Arsenal that Mikel Arteta would have been his successor at Manchester City with greater patience.
Arteta, who was Guardiola’s assistant from 2016-2019, left his plush job at the Etihad to take up the challenge of reviving a wounded Arsenal in December 2019 post-Unai Emery.
The younger Spaniard would have likely already become the City manager had Guardiola left for pastures abroad.
Pep Guardiola and Mikel Arteta worked together at Manchester City between 2016-2019
‘I am pretty sure if I would have left before, he would be here and he would be the best, absolutely,’ Guardiola said during his Thursday press conference.
‘But I extended the contract, I am sorry, and he didn’t wait, so it could not happen, but definitely [it could’ve].’
After a few lean years, Guardiola’s prodigy is guiding Arsenal back toward its former glories, with the Gunners perched atop of the Premier League holding a five-point lead over City.
Arteta has turned around a wobbling Arsenal, making them serious challengers for the title
Having already won the FA Cup, Arteta and his squad are looking to capture the club’s first Premier League title since the 2004 Invincibles.
‘He loves the club,’ Guardiola said of Arteta and Arsenal. ‘I remember when we were together here when we score goals, he jumps a lot and celebrates except one team.
‘One team every time we score a goal, I jump, look back, and he was sitting there. It was Arsenal.
‘It was that moment I said that guy likes Arsenal. Like me, training here or Barcelona if I’m training as assistant and Barcelona call me, I will go. My club.’
The Spanish manager has built strong relationships with Arsenal’s young core, including Saka
The Premier League’s top two collide in Manchester on Friday, the first of three crucial meetings this season. Though Guardiola sees a distinction in the most imminent match.
‘It is a different competition, the FA Cup, it is a final,’ said Guardiola. ‘And of course, more than Arsenal to prove ourselves how is our level, when the team make 50 points [at the halfway stage] it is because they have been the best, and they are.
‘We have to prove how far away or how close we are and the best way to notice is to perform our best level. Otherwise, against a team at that level, it will be difficult.’
Arsenal and Manchester City last met in an absorbing January 2022 encounter in north London