Jose Mourinho told Arsenal’s head of football Raul Sanllehi of the two positions he would strengthen in January and the players he would sign, according to a report.
Reports on Sunday morning claim Mourinho had dinner with Sanllehi earlier this week and his vision for the Gunners is said to have impressed, amid increasing speculation over the future of Unai Emery.
Those reports, however, are said to have been denied by Arsenal, with sources at the club telling the PA news agency that such a meeting did not take place and the pair have not had a conversation for years.
Spanish tactician Emery is under increasing pressure at Emirates Stadium with many feeling Arsenal have failed to progress since he replaced Arsene Wenger in the hotseat, with Saturday’s 1-1 draw at home to Wolves – the third game in a row Arsenal have let a lead slip – hardly helping matters.
To add to Emery’s woes, reports have claimed there are serious fractions between the Spaniard and some senior Arsenal stars, with this damning report four gripes with his training methods have emerged.
Furthermore, the debacle surrounding Granit Xhaka’s X-rated confrontation with supporters has hardly helped matters, with the Swiss-Albanian left out of Saturday’s 1-1 draw despite his recent apology.
And Xhaka’s central midfield berth is one of the areas Mourinho is said to have identified as an area of weakness during his conversations with Sanllehi – with the Portuguese tactician also reported to have idenitifed an obtainable replacement.
According to Don Balon, Mourinho has tasked the Gunners with signing Borussia Dortmund midfielder Axel Witsel as a likely replacement for Xhaka. The Belgian was earmarked as a target for United during Mourinho’s spell in charge, before the player eventually opted for the Bundesliga side.
And Witsel has seen his stock rise since moving to Germany, leading Mourinho to believe he would be the ideal replacement for the struggling Xhaka, with Gary Neville this week highlighting the Swiss-Albanian’s weaknesses.
In addition, Mourinho is also said to have identified the centre of defence as Arsenal’s other primary weakness and Don Balon also claims Mourinho recommended the Gunners buy his former United charge, Eric Bailly, in January to add more steel to his backline.
The report adds that Mourinho would look to pair Bailly, who is currently fighting his way back from a knee injury, up with David Luiz, with the Portuguese said not to rate Sokratis Papastathopoulos.
While Mourinho has refused to commend directly on claims he is close to the Arsenal job, he has not exactly maintained his silence either during his near-long year out of the game.
During that time he’s made a number of high-profile appearances as a pundit on Sky Sports, saying a few things about Arsenal’s summer signings earlier this year.
He also addressed his ambitions to begin working as a manager again on Thursday amid growing reports he was being considered by Arsenal, stating exactly what he wants from his next job.
Mourinho said: “The only thing that I know is what I don’t want, and what I don’t want is crystal clear. What I want, the general profile of course, but I can’t say clubs or countries.
“I am quite pathological in this sense that I have to play to win, and then if I win or I don’t win that’s my problem, and the players’ and the club’s and the structure.
“But I need a project where the feeling is I play to win.
“If someone gives me a wonderful, incredible, amazing, 10-year contract and tells me ‘the objective of the team is to stay in the first part of the table, if you finish seventh or eighth or ninth it is perfect, that’s not for me.
“That’s my nature. Of course sometimes I remember what I won before, but it’s not me, so my next is to fight to win.”