Mikel Arteta believes he will be given the chance to continue as Arsenal manager next season as doubts over his suitability for the job deepen following the Europa League semi-final exit to Villarreal, managed by his predecessor Unai Emery.
Arsenal’s board are expected to give the 39-year-old a chance to turn things around in the summer and at the start of next season, after what is expected to be the club’s worst league finish since 1995.
However, consideration would have to be given to whether changing managers this summer would be cheaper than giving significant financial backing to Arteta, who is likely to be sacked if the season starts badly.
Mikel Arteta expects to be in charge of Arsenal next season despite another below-par term
The Gunners are likely to miss out on European football for the first time in 25 years next term
Any shortlist would be similar to that of north London rivals Tottenham, with the likes of Ralf Rangnick and Rafa Benitez among the leading candidates and Brendan Rodgers a prime contender if he could be persuaded to leave Leicester.
Asked if he believed he could still be manager at a top team, Arteta, who won the FA Cup last summer, said: ‘Yes. I think the squad needs changing.
‘There were already a lot of changes in December, something that has not been done in years, but it tells us where we were. Things are going to have to change and the owners are going to back it up.’
The Kroenke family have extended credit lines in order to sign players in recent years but with mixed success. Before Arteta arrived, Nicolas Pepe was a record signing in 2019 for £72m but has yet to prove his worth. William Saliba was also signed then for £27m but last summer sent out on loan to Nice by Arteta.
Arteta (left) himself admits the Gunners squad needs changing and the board supports that
Of last summer’s signings, Arteta was backed by the board to offer Willian a three-year deal on wages worth more than £200,000 a week, which has proved an expensive mistake and one which will be impossible to unravel cheaply.
Thomas Partey has proved a good buy but Arsenal were forced to pay £250,000-a-week wages to get the deal done while Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s £350,000-a-week contract was hailed as a coup at the time but the striker has since faded, partly due to him contracting malaria.
Arteta, whose side take on West Brom today, acknowledges that the window of opportunity to close the gap on the likes of Manchester City, Chelsea and Liverpool is extremely limited but he added: ‘I think we are in the right place to do it, and we have to do it.’