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It now seems a case of ‘when’ rather than ‘if’ Arsene Wenger leaves Arsenal. With a humiliating exit from the Champions League in the round of 16 (again) and top players seemingly in revolt, the writing is on the wall for the Frenchman.
Wenger’s contract runs out in the summer and the club have publicly said they would deal with things in the correct fashion. But with even Wenger’s most ardent supporters admitting it might be time for him to go, who are some of the likely replacements?
There have been unconfirmed reports that current Juventus boss Massimiliano Allegri has already verbally agreed to take over next season. Known as a master tactician, the Italian has tasted success at Milan and Juventus and could be up for the challenge. He might not be so up for it if Arsenal fail to qualify for the Champions League however.
Passion and Drive
Diego Simeone has performed wonders at Atletico Madrid, turning the La Liga spotlight away from the big two in the past few seasons. He has won trophies in Europe as well as in Spain and even though he has one more year on his current contract he would probably leave early if the right job came up. But his style may be too much for an Arsenal board who don’t like confrontation and Simeone would probably prefer to return to his old stomping ground of Inter anyway.
Klopp Version 2
Thomas Tuchel took over from Jürgen Klopp at Dortmund and undoubtedly likes his sides to play in a similar style (which would go down well at Arsenal). But he is a quieter figure and would be a popular choice with the fans as well as the board. A move to the Premier League in the summer might be a bit too early for the German coach but his knack of bringing through young players would definitely fit in with Arsenal’s model.
One name that has been mentioned fleetingly in Arsenal circles as an outside tip has been fan favourite Thierry Henry. Although the Frenchman has no senior management experience he is known to be a favourite of the Kroenkes and would be someone who would get the fans onside. Although there was some surprised looks when he joined the Belgium set up he has reportedly impressed the players and he would definitely be more likely to convince top players like Özil and Sanchez to stay.
Others in the Frame
Some of the other names that the bookies seem to like include Bournemouth’s Eddie Howe, Luis Enrique (who will be leaving Barcelona in the summer) and even Newcastle’s Rafa Benitez. Experience of the Premier League would be seen as an advantage but the club may feel they need more of a big name announcement. Sevilla’s Jorge Sampaoli is another outside bet who would be more likely to convince Alexis Sanchez to stay after his stint as Chile manager, but if the Barca job is on the cards it is not hard to guess which club he would choose.
With protests, chants and banners all calling for Wenger to leave it seems unfair on the Frenchman that this is the way he leaves a club he has transformed. But with no Premier League title for 13 years – and no European trophies in over 20 years – it looks like it is time for a change. The question is though – will his replacement be able to take the club to where the fans believe it should be?
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