Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta lined up for Barcelona switch with Joan Laporta keen

Arsenal: Arteta excited by return of fans

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Mikel Arteta is being lined up by Barcelona presidential candidate Joan Laporta as a replacement for current boss Ronald Koeman, according to reports. The Catalan club are preparing to elect a successor to Josep Maria Bartomeu, with Laporta among the favourites to be voted in later this month.

Arteta has struggled throughout his first full season in charge of Arsenal, failing to mount a top-four challenge after a dismal start to the season quickly derailed the Spaniard’s plans.

The Gunners fell as low as 16th in the Premier League table before rescuing their form during the festive period, but their resurgence came too late to stand any real chance of securing European football for next season.

Arteta’s side now occupy 10th position, eight points adrift of fourth-placed West Ham United, but can still book their Champions League spot by beating the likes of Manchester United and Tottenham to Europa League glory.

Despite the 38-year-old’s lacklustre campaign at the helm, he could potentially be in line to make a shock move to Barca if Laporta is elected as the club’s new president.

Catalan radio has reported that Arteta is being seriously considered as a replacement for Koeman, who was appointed as a stop-gap solution in the wake of Barca’s Champions League humiliation at the end of last season.

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The 8-2 thrashing at the hands of eventual winners Bayern Munich marked the end of the road for Quique Setien, with Koeman promptly recruited to restore order.

The Dutchman has overseen a lacklustre campaign in charge with Barca’s hopes of reclaiming the La Liga title fading rapidly.

They currently sit five points adrift of leaders Atletico Madrid, who have the added benefit of a game in hand.

It is claimed that Barca’s new president will look to appoint their own head coach rather than stick with Koeman, with Laporta’s fondness of Arteta sure to have Gunners chiefs keeping a close eye on proceedings over the coming days.

The Arsenal boss is a graduate of Barca’s famous La Masia academy, and spent two years working as an assistant coach under club legend Pep Guardiola at Manchester City in order to learn the ropes of management.

He was handed his first job by Arsenal in November 2019 after the departure of compatriot Unai Emery, winning the FA Cup at the end of his debut season.

Although the Gunners have struggled since the beginning of the current campaign, Arteta has earned plaudits for his long-term plan and willingness to shake up the culture at the north London club.

Guardiola, who managed what was arguably Barca’s greatest ever side between 2008 and 2012, claimed in November that Arsenal would struggle to find a better fit for the job if Arteta decides to leave or is sacked.

“Arsenal doesn’t have a better manager that leads this club, in this year and the next, that is better than him,” Guardiola told reporters, responding to rumours of Arteta’s untimely departure amid his side’s poor start to the season.

“I don’t have to give publicly my support because he has it and he knows that he has it. He’s one of the best managers I’ve ever worked with, of course, and seen directly.”

Arteta’s potential appointment at Barca could boost their chances of landing Arsenal defender Hector Bellerin, who has been heavily linked with a return to his country of origin in recent months.

The 25-year-old is being tracked by his former employers with a view to a permanent move, but remains contracted to the Gunners until the summer of 2023.

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