As news of Arsene Wenger leaving Arsenal after 22 seasons hit social media last Friday, there was quickly a plethora of names to be mentioned as possible successors to the Frenchman. Being the next manager of the Gunners will be a difficult task. Not because they don’t currently have good players, but because replacing a legend like Wenger is not an easy task to live up to. While there has been nearly a dozen potential candidates, let’s take a look at five of the more talked about managerial possibilities.
Luis Enrique – The Frontrunner
The former Barcelona boss has emerged as the frontrunner to succeed Wenger for a few reasons. Firstly, Enrique is a very good coach and was extremely successful with the Catalan club. The now 47-year-old former Spain international collected seven significant trophies in just three seasons as Barcelona manager. While his tenure as manager was relatively short, he managed to win the La Liga title twice, and also completed the treble in his first season with the prestigious team.
Not only was Enrique successful with the Catalan club, but new Arsenal head of football relations Raul Sanllehi was previously with Barcelona during Enrique’s time in Spain. Reports have surfaced that Enrique and Sanllehi have recently dined together in London and the positive relationship between the two could help Enrique’s possible transition to Arsenal manager a smooth one.
Leonardo Jardim – The Best Fit
Jardim’s Monaco side may not always play the same exact formation as Wenger’s Arsenal teams as of late, but the Portuguese manager’s attacking style would seemingly suit the Gunners. Monaco have scored 186 goals in their last 72 league matches, just one fewer than Paris Saint-Germain during this stretch.
Jardim usually deploys some sort of a 4-4-2, 4-4-1-1, or 4-2-3-1 formation. In either of the first two formations, Jardim could theoretically deploy both Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette together. The dynamic duo could replicate Monaco’s previous success with Kylian Mbappe and Radamel Falcao up top. With help from these two forwards (36 combined league goals), Jardim won the Ligue 1 title during the 2016/17 campaign.
The former Braga and Olympiacos manager has enjoyed success practically everywhere he goes. Since the start of the 2011/12 season, Jardim’s teams have won 59% of their games and collected three trophies along the way.
Carlo Ancelotti – The Short Term Option
Ancelotti’s resume speaks for itself. Formally of Juventus, Milan, Chelsea, PSG, Real Madrid, and Bayern Munich, Ancelotti has more experience than any other manager reportedly in the running to succeed Wenger. The Italian has claimed four league titles and three Champions League trophies during his time as a club manager.
Turning 59 in June though, Ancelotti would not necessarily be the ‘sexy’ choice for Arsenal. However, the Gunners could use the Italian as a stopgap while Mikel Arteta, Thierry Henry, Per Mertesacker, or Patrick Vieira gain more managerial experience.
Following the news of Wenger stepping down as Arsenal manager, Ancelotti claimed that he would like to manage again soon. “I can say I would like to work again, but it doesn’t depend on me,” the Italian stated at a press conference. “If I find the right possibility, the right project, I would be delighted to continue.”
Patrick Vieira – The Student
Speaking of Vieira, the former Arsenal player is currently in his third season with New York City FC. Although he has yet to take home a trophy as manager, the Frenchman has done fairly well since his arrival to New York in 2016. Vieira took over a team that finished 17th in 2015, and subsequently finished fourth and second in the MLS standings during his first two seasons.
Vieira obviously knows Arsenal and Wenger extremely well, and will most likely see time as Gunners manager at some point in his career. However, now might be a tad too early to implement the former world-class midfielder as manager. Replacing a legend in Wenger with one of his former players would certainly be interesting though, and Vieira has shown he can handle the job title.
Julian Nagelsmann – The Wild Card
One of the brightest young managers in Europe, Nagelsmann has done an exceptional job during his time with Hoffenheim. The reigning Bundesliga Manager of the Year, Nagelsmann has given Hoffenheim their first ever taste of Champions League soccer. Though the German club was eventually knocked out of the tournament by Liverpool, they still currently hold on to a fifth place position in the league table.
While Nagelsmann’s name has been brought up when discussing potential Wenger replacements, the 30-year-old manager does not think these talks hold much weight. ”These are just rumors,” he told Sky Sports Germany. “I focus on myself and my team; the focus is on nothing else. I’m not annoyed by the discussions. I focus on myself and my team and want to make a good game here today (last Saturday against RB Leipzig).”
Despite his doubts, news from inside the Emirates suggests Nagelsmann is in fact in the managerial running. Appointing the Hoffenheim manager would be bold move for Arsenal. Bringing in a bright, young manager could galvanize the fanbase; however, replacing Wenger could also be too difficult for such a young coach.