Arsenal were sent into a frenzy this week after reports that manager Mikel Arteta had told his staff that he was looking to leave the Emirates this summer amid the projected departure of Xavi at Barcelona.
A report by Barcelona-based paper SPORT had suggested that Arteta could be in line to replace Xavi at the Camp Nou after the Catalan boss announced his intention to leave the club at the end of the season following a poor run of form.
Arteta was quick to dismiss rumours linking him with an exit and reiterated his commitment to the Gunners but the reports enlisted fear into some Arsenal fans who believed the Spaniard could be tempted by a return to his boyhood club.
And while the reports were undoubtedly a play by Barca sources to unsettle Arteta and ‘manifest’ the idea of the 41-year-old succeeding Xavi, there doesn’t appear to be anything to worry about for Arsenal for the time being.
Indeed, Arteta leaving his post at the Emirates mid-way through his project would be surprising and the idea of him moving to Barcelona at such a perilous point in the club’s timeline would be an even bigger shock.
The news will only make Arsenal more desperate to tie Arteta down to a new contract and continue their quest to win a Premier League title under a manager who embodies everything about the club on and off the pitch.
“That’s totally fake news” 😤
Mikel Arteta says he will not be leaving Arsenal this summer ❌ pic.twitter.com/k38CCgfe65
— Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) January 29, 2024
Only one club could tempt Arteta away from Arsenal – and it isn’t Barcelona
Barcelona’s pursuit of Arteta is unsurprising given his history as a graduate of the club’s academy and the door to the Camp Nou will always be open for him, particularly as a student of Pep Guardiola, meaning there is no reason for the Gunners boss to rush into anything.
Barcelona’s post is also something which will eventually come around again given their current trend, with Xavi’s replacement set to be the fourth permanent manager hired by the club in just over four years.
With Barca’s economical difficulties, there frankly is no worse time to take over at the club given the limitations over spending and the pressure to succeed on the pitch in order to ease the financial strain off it.
Arteta still has plenty to prove and achieve at Arsenal and, at this point, the Spaniard has a greater affinity and relationship with the Gunners than any deep-rooted allegiance to Barca.
Perhaps a bigger test of Arteta’s loyalty would be if Manchester City came knocking, with Guardiola likely to recommend his former coach as a prime candidate to succeed him when he eventually does leave.
But for now, Arteta appears to be on the same page as Arsenal and remains determined to see out his project, meaning there is no fear of him going anywhere providing the club continue to match his lofty ambitions.