Premier League • England

Next Barcelona boss: Mikel Arteta reaches rapid decision on Arsenal future as Klopp ‘dream’ and five-man shortlist to replace Xavi emerges

Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta has emerged as a target for the Barcelona job

Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta has emerged as a target for the Barcelona job

Arsenal coach Mikel Arteta has already made up his mind on his future at Emirates Stadium amid strong claims in the Spanish media that he was ready to quit the Gunners at the end of the season and amid links to the Barcelona hotseat.

Top managers quitting their posts has become a bit of a theme over the last few days with Jurgen Klopp revealing the stunning news on Friday that he was to walk away from Liverpool at the end of the season. Speculation over where Klopp goes next has already began to swirl, while there is also the small matter on who next takes the top job at Anfield.

Just a day after Klopp’s bombshell, Barcelona coach Xavi also announced he is to step down in the summer, and just over two years since he took charge at the Nou Camp.

His exit decision has also shocked the footballing world, though not perhaps to the same levels as Klopp’s given Barcelona’s drop-off in form this season and his announcement coming just after their topsy-turvy 3-5 home defeat to Villarreal.

As a result, speculation has already begun to swirl over who will replace their legendary midfielder in the LaLiga giants’ dug-out.

On Saturday it was suggested Klopp may well be in the frame, with Barca president Joan Laporta a huge fan.

However, reports in Catalonian paper Sport on Sunday claimed Laporta is actually ready to appoint Arteta to the top job. And more worrying still, they strongly claimed Arteta was set to follow in Klopp and Xavi’s lead by stunningly announcing he is to step down at Arsenal come the end of the season.

READ MORE ~ Mikel Arteta opens up on leadership, coaching and why he does what he does

Mikel Arteta to Barcelona reports dismissed

Arteta’s contract at Arsenal currently runs to 2025 and those wild reports claimed he was ready to walk away at the end of the season and take up the role with Barcelona.

Arteta has been in charge of the Gunners since 2019 and has led them to FA Cup glory, as well as helping the club return to the Champions League after a seven-year absence.

They also pushed Manchester City hard for Premier League glory last season, ultimately finishing second though just five points behind.

They are back in the title race once again this season, albeit currently five points adrift themselves of Liverpool.

As a result, he has long been touted as a possible successor to Xavi, with Laporta known as a huge admirer of Arteta’s work and those rumours gathering serious pace in Spain on Sunday.

However, as quickly as they emerged, they were also snuffed out with two leading outlets dismissing claims that Arteta was ready to quit.

Indeed, the Daily Mail insists that sources close to Arsenal claim Arteta has no plans to walk away from his post early.

That was soon followed by Sky Sports, who also insisted that the 41-year-old was not intending to quit the Gunners.

Klopp the dream name on five-man Barcelona shortlist

Despite that, Mundo Deportivo claims Barcelona have already drawn up a five-man shortlist to replace Xavi, with Arteta very much in their thinking.

But the Catalonian newspaper has declared Klopp ‘Laporta’s dream’ target and it’s suggested they will ask for permission to speak with his agents with regards whether he would like to take up the role.

Laporta reckons Klopp has the right profile to restore Barcelona to Spanish and European greatness.

In case Klopp does not take up the offer, MD reports that they also have another four coaches under consideration, with Arteta also featuring.

In addition, it’s reported that they also have their eyes on Bologna coach, with their former defender very much impressing in charge of the Serie A side.

Former Bayern and Germany boss Hansi Flick is also reportedly under consideration, with Bild reporter Christian Falk declaring the out-of-work German a ‘hot candidate’.

However, many observers in Spain claim the most likely candidate for the Barca job is current Real Sociedad coach Imanol Aguacil.

A number of leading outlets and observes have declared the 52-year-old as Laporta’s top target after Klopp, with his work at Sociedad, who he has led to Copa del Rey glory and into the last 16 of the Champions League, where they face PSG for a place in the quarter-finals, very much catching their eye.

DON’T MISSArsenal left stunned as Man Utd prepare shock offer for LaLiga midfielder Mikel Arteta would love to sign