Former Arsenal midfielder Paul Merson has made a bold claim about the future of the club by naming the man he wants to see take over the club after Arsene Wenger.
Merson has declared that should he lose his job at Chelsea, Antonio Conte is the man to take over the reigns at the Emirates Stadium.
Conte has found himself under increasing pressure in recent weeks with the reigning champions having lost out to both Bournemouth and Watford in their last two outings, and also facing the prospect of a Champions League clash with Barcelona as well as meeting both Manchester clubs in the coming month.
Arsenal, meanwhile, sit sixth in the Premier League table and look set to miss out on Champions League football again next season, with many fans calling for Wenger to walk away from the helm after 21 seasons at the club.
Merson has claimed that should Conte be let go by Chelsea, the Arsenal board should jump to secure his signature in order to replace Wenger – with the Sky Sports pundit outlining why Conte would be the perfect fit at the Emirates:
“The day Conte leaves Chelsea, if I was Arsenal, I’d be straight on the phone. Managers like Conte don’t come along too often.
“Arsenal need someone that is going to go in there and upset people. Conte upsets people. He wants you to play a certain way and he’ll make you rock solid at the back. As soon as Arsenal get rock solid at the back, they’ll be a force.” via Sky Sports
The Gunners have been rejuvenated up front by the recent signings of both Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, but many have criticised the club’s decision not to invest in their defence.
Merson also made the claim that were Wenger not in the helm for so long, multiple world-class managers would have jumped at the opportunity to manage Arsenal – and things would perhaps be much different for the North London club.
“Arsenal can’t keep missing all these managers. You can’t tell me Pep Guardiola wouldn’t want to have managed Arsenal? If he had that opportunity, he’d have gone to Arsenal in my opinion.”
“Jurgen Klopp, Jose Mourinho, they all went to Arsenal’s rivals because Wenger was sat there in the manager’s seat instead of saying the time was right to leave.”
The 49-year-old also explained that the dynamic of the club is changing at Arsenal, outlining how the signing of Aubameyang was not a traditional Wenger-like transfer, which convinces him that the Frenchman will walk away at the end of the season despite having a year left on his contract.
“When has he ever bought a 29-year-old for £60m with no sell-on clause? Never ever.”
With the pressure mounting on both managers as we reach the business end of the season, only time will tell whether or not they remain in their current positions when the campaign reaches its conclusion – however, Merson is convinced that should Conte be dumped out of one side of London, then the other should be waiting with open arms to welcome him.
Jordan Norris, Pundit Arena