Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Djourou backs Arteta to succeed Wenger at Arsenal

SoccerNews in English Premier League 7 May 2018

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Former Arsenal defender Johan Djourou thinks Mikel Arteta would be a good choice as manager for the “new era” after Arsene Wenger’s exit.

Wenger, who will step down at the end of the season, made an emotional farewell to Gunners fans on Sunday as his final home game in charge of the club ended in a 5-0 win over Burnley.

Speculation persists over who will replace the 68-year-old, with former Barcelona boss Luis Enrique, Juventus head coach Massimiliano Allegri and Liverpool assistant Zeljko Buvac among the favourites.

Djourou admits replacing Wenger is an almost impossible job, but he believes Arteta, who has worked alongside Pep Guardiola at Manchester City for the last two years, could be a shrewd choice.

“That’s a difficult question because you’ve had such a long time with one coach that has been doing a great job for such a long time,” the 31-year-old, now at Antalyaspor, told Omnisport.

“Of course, the last few years wasn’t so successful, but what he has brought to the mentality of the club… I think you cannot replace what he’s done.

“For me, it’s a new beginning, it’s a new era, it’s a new start. I think if you want to do a new start you have to go with someone who is maybe young, with a good philosophy, with a great mind as well. So, I don’t know, it’s hard to say.

“Allegri has good experience, Luis Enrique as well, but maybe I see someone like Mikel Arteta, maybe. Because he’s the second coach of Guardiola so he has this football mentality and he played for Arsenal before, so I don’t know. I think the future will tell but there are a lot of great minds and great coaches that could bring this team up in the future.”

Djourou joined Arsenal as a 16-year-old in 2003 and went on to make 144 appearances for the club, before joining Hamburg on a permanent deal in 2014.

The Switzerland international still remembers the way Wenger made him believe he could forge a successful career in football.

“My first meeting with Wenger was the time when I was meant to sign for Arsenal,” he added. “You can straight away feel what kind of person he is.

“He’s a very gentle person that knows everything about football, knows which player he wants and which player he can see potential for the future. I have to say, the first time I met him was the time that I felt that I could become a professional footballer.

“He’s a great mentor, a great coach and I will always be thankful to him for what he’s done for me.

“We can never take away what he has done for Arsenal. We will never take away because he’s done a great job. I think that he brought a mentality, a philosophy of football in England and that will never be taken away. I hope he continues somewhere else because he’s a great man of football, but what I can say on my side is I wish him all the best.”

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