Unai Emery has opened up on the fractious relationship he endured with Mesut Ozil at Arsenal and says the playmaker has to "look at himself, at his attitude and commitment".

The Gunners appointed Emery as Arsene Wenger's successor in May 2018 but just 18 months later he was sacked with Arsenal making a disappointing start to the 2019-20 campaign.

Emery's relationship with Ozil was often a point of scrutiny and the Germany World Cup winner found himself in and out of the squad under the Spaniard.

Ozil was handed a new Arsenal contract in January 2018, four months prior to Emery's appointment, and the former Real Madrid star's commitment to the cause was questioned by the ex-boss.

"In the end he has to look at himself. At his attitude and his commitment," he said in quotes published by the Daily Mail.

"I tried my utmost to help Ozil. Throughout my career, talented players have been my favourites and they have played at their best or close to their best with me. 

"I was always positive with him in terms of wanting him to be involved, but then the attitude that he adopted, and the commitment levels, well, they weren't enough.

"One of the captains could possibly have been Ozil but the dressing room didn't want him to be captain. His level of commitment was not that of someone who deserved to be captain, and that's not what I decided, that's what the players decided."

Emery recounted one particular moment of tension in the aftermath of the 4-1 Europa League final defeat to Chelsea, the pain of which he had hoped to use as a springboard to push on.

"I had meetings with all the players that day. Individual half-hour chats with each one. Only Ozil didn't want to come," he added.

"He didn't come. And that's what we're saying when we talk about commitment. When the commitment is 100 per cent then everyone comes."

Emery also rued the loss of "leader" Aaron Ramsey, who opted against signing a new deal with Arsenal to join Juventus on a free transfer.

"When I arrived at the club I saw Ramsey was going to be very important, he's a leader on the pitch and in the dressing room and he wanted to stay," Emery said. 

"Logically he then needed to negotiate a new contract and they didn't reach an agreement, I never get involved in the economic side of things, that's not my area. But it then has repercussions on the pitch.

"I think, for the team it would have been better if he had carried on, and for me as coach too, because he was the next captain."

That reluctance to get involved in the economic side saw Emery miss out on top forward target Wilfried Zaha in the close season.

Instead of signing an established Premier League performer in the Crystal Palace star, Arsenal stumped up a reported £72million to sign Nicolas Pepe from Lille.

Emery explained: "Pepe is a good player but he needs time. When I was there he didn't give me the performances. 

"I was in favour of someone coming who knew the English league, more than anything so that he wouldn't need a period of adaptation. I had a meeting with Zaha, the Palace player.

"He was the player I wanted because I could see that he won so many games on his own.

"I saw 20 Zaha games, some incredible performances and I told them that this is the player that I want for this team.

"I spoke to Zaha. I had been with him personally. And he wanted to come. But the club decided that Pepe was younger, he was one for the future. I said: yes, but we need to win now and this lad [Zaha] wins games. He did it to us!"

Unai Emery reckons Diego Simeone has got the Atletico Madrid job for life.

Unless Simeone decides to call a halt to his Wanda Metropolitano career, Emery cannot see the club parting ways with the charismatic Argentine boss.

That factor reduces Emery's chances of getting back into coaching at the highest level in Spain, as he searches for the next calling point in a well-travelled career following spells at Paris Saint-Germain and Arsenal.

Simeone has spent over eight years in charge at Atletico, leading them to the 2013-14 LaLiga title and two Champions League finals.

Atleti have established themselves as the most consistent challengers to Real Madrid and Barcelona for the biggest prizes in Spain, which is why when Emery looks at potential landing spots in LaLiga, he finds it hard to see an opportunity coming up with the Rojiblancos.

"You go where they want you," Emery said to AS. "Now I live in Valencia to be with my son, but I'm registered in Madrid. I don't know where my next project will be, I am open to everything.

"What is clear is that Atletico have Simeone, who should be with the team until he wants to be, or his whole life, because there is no one who fits like him."

Emery first forged his reputation with successful spells in charge of Valencia and Sevilla, but the 48-year-old would not discount taking charge of either side's main city rivals, Levante and Real Betis.

"I'm a professional," Emery said. "My heart has always been with Real Sociedad, where I was for 10 years, but if Athletic [Bilbao] ever called me... I've been to Valencia, but if Levante called me... I have been to Sevilla, but if Betis called me...

"Wherever they want me and I feel recognised, I will be there, and that will be what matters."

Kylian Mbappe is capable of marking an era at Real Madrid and could be somewhat unfulfilled at Paris Saint-Germain, according to Unai Emery.

Mbappe, 21, has been heavily linked with a move to Madrid with his contract at PSG expiring in 2022.

Emery coached the France international for a season at PSG in 2017-18, when they won Ligue 1, the Coupe de France and Coupe de la Ligue together.

The Spaniard believes Mbappe has the talent to create a spectacular period at Madrid, if he decided to make the move.

"Of course he has the ability to mark an era in Madrid," Emery told AS.

"Advise which league to play in? When I was in France, I love that he was there because I enjoyed it. When I went to England, I would have liked him to play in the Premier League.

"And if I return to Spain, I want him to be here."

Mbappe has already won three Ligue 1 titles with PSG – and another with Monaco – while he helped France to their World Cup success in 2018.

While Emery believes the attacker can be happy at PSG, he said there may be aspects that left Mbappe unfulfilled.

"Look, surely there will be things from PSG that fill you up and maybe some will not, and there may be Real Madrid," he said.

"We are lucky to have and export the two best teams in the world, which are Real Madrid and Barcelona, and I would like them to continue having the best players in the world."

Unai Emery hit out at referee Deniz Aytekin, Barcelona forward Luis Suarez and an un-named Paris Saint-Germain player as he reflected on the 6-1 Champions League collapse suffered at Camp Nou in 2017.

PSG, then coached by Emery, romped to a 4-0 win in the first leg of their last-16 tie, but on March 8, a day Emery remembers as the worst of his career, Barca recorded an unbelievable second-leg comeback.

Leading 3-1 on the night but still trailing 5-3 on aggregate after 88 minutes, Barca were on the brink of elimination.

However, they managed to score three times in a dramatic finale to seal the largest comeback in Champions League history, with future PSG star Neymar scoring twice for Luis Enrique's hosts.

Reflecting on the devastating loss more than three years later, Emery hit out at the performance of Turkish official Aytekin.

He also discussed his belief Suarez kept going down easily in the box and suggested there was a PSG player who was "hiding" as he explained the other circumstances that worked against his team.

"There are lots of details in that game that can be scrutinised," Emery said, per EFE, in a discussion with his former Sevilla assistant Diego Martinez, who now coaches Granada.

"But if I start from the end, I'd change the referee and that's it. I watched a repeat of the game the other day because I found it while I was zapping through channels. I watched it from the 50th minute to the 82nd minute.

"We were 3-0 down, we scored to make it 3-1 and we had a one-on-one that Edinson Cavani hit at the goalkeeper to make it 3-2; a clear penalty on Angel Di Maria that wasn't given; and in the 82nd minute, Di Maria fouled Neymar for the goal. That's when I stopped watching.

"In that section of the game, I saw that one of our important players, who had had injury problems during the season, was hiding in the result. Maybe I would substitute him now. 

"They are details, circumstances that escape you in a game.

"Then there are other key circumstances: the Barcelona players, especially Suarez, going down in the box continuously, pressuring the referee until he fell into their trap."

Barca were knocked out in the by eventual finalists Juventus in the last eight.

Unai Emery believes Neymar has the capacity to usurp Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo as the best player in the world.

Former Paris Saint-Germain head coach Emery worked with Neymar for his first season in France after the Brazil international's €222million move from Barcelona in 2017.

The Spaniard, who left PSG in 2018 and went on to manage Arsenal, loved his experience with Neymar and continues to believe in the 28-year-old's world-class ability.

"I had a magnificent year with him," Emery said, per EFE, in an interview with Granada coach Diego Martinez, who was his assistant at Sevilla.

"I learned so much watching his responses in each training session and in games.

"Neymar has the talent inside him but also the ability and qualities to execute it.

"I think he's got an opportunity to take the baton from Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo and be the best player in the world, and he has the time to do it."

Neymar has won six trophies in his three seasons at PSG, including a Ligue 1 title in each year.

Champions League success has so far eluded him in France, though PSG had secured a quarter-final place in this season's competition before the coronavirus pandemic brought a halt to major football.

Unai Emery felt Arsenal were "on a downward slope for two years" prior to his arrival and slammed the attitude of star men during his time with the Gunners.

Emery was sacked last November after just 18 months in charge at the Emirates Stadium following the London club's worst winless run since 1992.

The former Paris Saint-Germain boss insisted he stopped the rot after replacing Arsene Wenger, but believed the attitude of some key men left a lot to be desired.

Emery felt he would have made Arsenal a force if he was given more time in the role. 

"Arsenal was a club on a downward slope for two years when I arrived," the Spaniard told France Football.

"We stopped that slide and even started to straighten the club out with a Europa League final and fifth place in the league, only one place behind Tottenham, even though we only took one point in the last five games.

"We had Champions League qualification in our hands and it went wrong at the end. But it was a good season and we had the idea to continue this progress.

"But we lost our four captains: [Laurent] Koscielny, [Petr] Cech, [Aaron] Ramsey and [Nacho] Monreal.

"We were missing personalities for this season to stay on track, and some stars did not have the right attitude and asked for more than they gave.

"Considering all that, it would have taken more time to transition successfully into the new Arsenal that I wanted."

Arsenal are unbeaten in seven matches under Emery's replacement Mikel Arteta, though four of those contests have been drawn.

Unai Emery believes he missed out on the chance to become the world's best coach during his time at Paris Saint-Germain because there was no VAR.

The Spaniard won seven domestic trophies in two seasons in the French capital but left in 2018 after failing to mount a serious Champions League challenge.

In their first season under Emery, PSG thrashed Barcelona 4-0 in the round-of-16 first leg only to suffer an astonishing 6-1 defeat in the return match at Camp Nou.

A year later, they reached the same stage of the competition only to lose 5-2 on aggregate to Real Madrid, who went on to lift the trophy for the third season in a row.

Emery thinks his fortunes as an elite-level coach might have been better had VAR been in existence for those ties.

"In Paris, I missed the chance to become the best coach in the world," he told France Football.

"I won the league, four domestic cups and two Trophees des Champions. But the ultimate goal was the Champions League.

"The first year, in the round-of-16 against Barcelona, were played a really high-level first leg. In the return leg, we were knocked out because VAR didn't yet exist. We were very clearly knocked out by refereeing decisions.

"The second year, against Real Madrid, we bowed to a team who recorded an historic hat-trick and, again, in the first leg, we could find fault with the officiating.

"To conclude: we lost the first time on refereeing decisions, and the second against the defending and future champions."

The 4-0 win over Barca came despite Thiago Silva being left out of the starting line-up.

It was initially reported the Brazil centre-back had an injury but reports soon suggested his omission was more of a tactical decision.

Emery has now explained he had grown frustrated with the player for not following his instructions to hold a higher defensive line.

"I wanted the team to defend higher. Thiago Silva is a great player, but I wanted him to be higher and I couldn't get him to accept that," Emery said.

"I wanted him to get out of his comfort zone, to dare to defend higher so that the general pressure of the team on the opposition would be more effective. I worked with him to make him accept this, but I didn't succeed.

"This characteristic of Thiago Silva's game reflected on the whole team, which, under pressure, had a natural tendency to drop deeper."

Despite a disappointing end to his two seasons in charge, Emery insists he always felt he had the backing of president Nasser Al-Khelaifi.

Indeed, the former Arsenal boss says it was left to him to convince Neymar of PSG's plans ahead of his world-record €222million transfer from Barcelona

"I always felt supported by president Nasser," he said. "For example, when we were about to sign Neymar, it was up to me to explain in person to Ney that we were going to build the team around him.

"With such a phenomenal player, you can't tell him there is already a team there and that he will have to adapt. You have to create the team for him. Otherwise, he wouldn't come - that's for sure.

"The president and the directors discuss the contract, but it's the coach who has to convince him of the game plan."

Monaco have high expectations and a mid-table position just will not cut it for the principality club.

Pressure may have eased on Leonardo Jardim after his inconsistent team thrashed Lille on Saturday, but fresh reports claim Monaco are looking at options for a new head coach.

Could Unai Emery - a Ligue 1 winner with Paris Saint-Germain but a disappointment at Arsenal - be just the man for the job?

 

TOP STORY - EMERY SET FOR DUGOUT RETURN?

Monaco are reportedly hunting for a new boss as Jardim's future looks bleak with the Monegasque club, and Emery is said to be a target.

According to Le 10 Sport, Monaco officials are considering former Valencia boss Marcelino and ex-PSG and France head coach Laurent Blanc.

A third coach reported to be interesting Monaco is Emery, who was sacked by Arsenal last month after a dismal run of form with the Premier League side.

The Spaniard would bring experience of French football after his time at PSG, with Sevilla and Valencia also among his former teams.

Monaco sit seventh in Ligue 1 this term, with Jardim handed a welcome boost when his team produced a shock 5-1 win over Lille at the weekend.

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- Barcelona are looking to loan out two of their brightest young talents to improve their prospects of first-team action, according to Marca. The Spanish newspaper says 21-year-old midfielder Carles Alena could go to Real Betis or Getafe, and that 19-year-old centre-back Jean-Clair Todibo is interesting Bayer Leverkusen along with other clubs from Germany and Italy.

- Arturo Vidal could be another player on the move from Barcelona, with Inter said to be targeting a deal for the 32-year-old Chilean. A four-time Serie A winner with Juventus, Vidal's role at Barcelona has become reduced this season and a Camp Nou departure looks a sensible solution. La Gazzetta dello Sport reports Inter are lining up a bid of €12million. Inter boss Antonio Conte knows Vidal well from their time together at Juventus, whom Inter are battling with for the Scudetto this term.

- Arsenal are keeping a close eye on Lyon's former Celtic striker Moussa Dembele, according to Le 10 Sport. If Arsenal lose Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang or Alexandre Lacazette, the report says Dembele would be a prime target for the Gunners, whose hopes of qualifying for next season's Champions League appear slim after a shabby first half of the Premier League season. Mikel Arteta has just taken the Emirates Stadium reins.

- Thomas Tuchel could soon be on the lookout for a new PSG assistant, with reports from Germany claiming his Hungarian number two Zsolt Low is a possible target for Stuttgart. Tim Walter lost his job with the Bundesliga second division team on Monday. The Stuttgarter Nachrichten reports the club, whose chief executive is former Aston Villa, Everton and Germany midfielder Thomas Hitzlsperger, have former Leipzig assistant boss Low in mind but have yet to approach any candidate.

Carlo Ancelotti and Mikel Arteta surely departed Goodison Park on Saturday suspecting they had each arrived just in time.

Everton initially improved under Duncan Ferguson following Marco Silva's sacking, but new boss Ancelotti - watching in the stands - struggled to hide his frustration as they contributed to a dreadful Premier League encounter.

Arteta, a former Toffees favourite, was also in attendance and might even have been the more encouraged of the two coaches-in-waiting, yet his side Arsenal were only marginally better.

Freddie Ljungberg has failed to inspire Arsenal, and it was clear on Merseyside that both the Gunners and Everton were each in need of a lift.


MESUT MESS CONTRIBUTES TO CAPTAINCY CONCERN

Ljungberg's stint ends with one win in six matches in all competitions, having muddled through the same assortment of teams and tactics that saw off Unai Emery while further exacerbating the issues around Mesut Ozil, Arsenal's eternal enigma.

The injured Ozil's absence - having reacted angrily to his substitution last week - neatly encapsulated the lack of leadership on the pitch for Arsenal.

Emery named Ozil among a quintet of skippers in each of his two seasons, but the warring five families in 'The Godfather' were less disparate. Only Granit Xhaka - stripped of the role - and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang of the former coach's group started on Saturday.

Ozil and Xhaka were in 2018-19's selection of five, too. Laurent Koscielny, Petr Cech and Aaron Ramsey have all since left - in controversial circumstances, on a free transfer, and retiring to join rivals Chelsea's staff, respectively.

Former Arsenal captain Arteta appears reluctant to intervene decisively, though, saying on Friday: "I want to see what they are doing at the moment and, after that, slowly, we will make some decisions to help them."


CLEAN SHEETS COURTESY OF CREATIVITY VOID

Everton collected just a second clean sheet in 16 league games, while Arsenal - having conceded the first goal in more Premier League games than any other side this season - could also welcome a rare shut-out - their first in 15 matches in all competitions.

But this goalless game owed more to aimless attacking play than defensive interventions, with passes from both sides regularly going astray at key moments.

Arsenal named their youngest league XI since May 2011, with many of the rookies in forward positions, yet Arteta would have been concerned as the visitors waited until the 44th minute for their first attempt.

Jordan Pickford was called into action before Bernd Leno, though, saving well six minutes after the break, as Everton likewise toiled.

Goals under Ferguson have largely come as a result of defensive errors, which the Gunners avoided, despite the presence of stars like Gylfi Sigurdsson and Richarlison.

Ancelotti is renowned for getting the best out of talented players, and for all Everton's back-line issues, a key focus must be to ensure future displays are more incisive going forward.


IMMEDIATE RESULTS REQUIRED REGARDLESS

These two sides are stuck in the mid-table mire, and it was not hard to see why in a pair of hopeless performances. But such is the need to get their seasons back on track that both teams would have welcomed a late winner regardless of what went before.

Neither truly deserved the three points, yet triumphing without playing well will be the early expectation for each new coach.

Arsenal's captaincy concerns need to be addressed, while Everton must have more edge up front and be less edgy at the back, but frustrations will not be abated for long if results see the two toiling in the bottom half.

Everton's pre-match optimism was sapped by full-time, and Arsenal's Friday talk of Champions League qualification and "eventually" the title looks pie in the sky.

Only once victories are belatedly strung together can serious discussion of fulfilling ambition be considered.

Arsenal head of football Raul Sanllehi says there are no regrets at Emirates Stadium that new head coach Mikel Arteta was not appointed ahead of Unai Emery in 2018.

Former captain Arteta was unveiled as the new Gunners boss on Friday, leaving Manchester City, where he had served on Pep Guardiola's backroom team for three-and-a-half seasons.

The 37-year-old returns to London to find Arsenal struggling in mid-table, having endured a tough start to the season under Emery, who was sacked at the end of last month.

Emery arrived from Paris Saint-Germain upon Arsene Wenger's departure after the 2017-18 season, at which point Arteta was also in the running for the role.

But despite the way Emery's tenure panned out, Sanllehi is still content Arsenal made the best decision they could at the time, while backing Arteta as the ideal candidate for the club's future.

Asked if there were regrets, Sanllehi told reporters: "No, I do not like to look to the past.

"I like to look to the future, and at that time, we made a decision with the information we had. It is not time to regret. We made a decision conscious of what we wanted at that time.

"We are now conscious and convinced of what we are doing now."

Reports suggested City were unhappy with the nature of Arteta's move to Arsenal, although Guardiola and the club wished the departing coach well.

Pictures emerged of Arteta meeting with Arsenal officials days before the switch was completed, but Sanllehi believes the Gunners were "very respectful".

"In terms of the pictures, we didn't think it was such a great deal," he said.

"We have been publicly explaining openly we are in a process of looking for a head coach, and we have been seeing many and in the houses of many. It just happened this time there was a picture for whatever reason.

"I do not know if it was a neighbour or someone following - I do not know and I do not care.

"In terms of Man City and given the tight relationship between Mikel and Pep, we have been very careful, extremely transparent and very respectful."

Discussing Arteta's aims, Sanllehi said Arsenal "need to be in the Champions League" after failing to qualify in the past three seasons. He added Arsenal would look to win the Premier League "eventually".

Unai Emery says Mesut Ozil did not have the necessary qualities to fit in with the pressing game he wanted to implement at Arsenal despite the playmaker's "brilliant talent".

Emery lasted 18 months in charge at Emirates Stadium and has been replaced by former Gunners captain Mikel Arteta, who signed a three and a half year deal on Friday.

Getting the best out of Ozil will be one of the key challenges for Arteta, who takes the top job for the first time after earning his reputation as a coaching talent as Pep Guardiola's assistant during two Premier League title-winning seasons at Manchester City.

Ozil was sidelined during Emery's time at the club and the Spaniard indicated he hoped to fit the former Germany international into his attacking plans but was unable to do so.

"I've had a lot of conversations with Mesut Ozil," Emery told BBC Sport. "He's a very important player for the team. 

"There are games in which you see Mesut's brilliance, linking with the attack. But also I had to find players around him so he felt comfortable.

"Also the team needed to feel solid. And when you, little by little, have to build a team that is aggressive, intense, as well as structured for good pressure, we also had to find a space for Mesut as he gives us an important part of the game, which is his brilliant talent.

"To do so I had to find the right connections between players; the right tactics. I was very motivated to try to find that. I wanted Alexandre Lacazette, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Mesut to work together, each one of them with their own characteristics.

"But there were times when I had to leave one of them out of the XI. Ozil is a very important player if you can find a way to make it work with other players. 

"He has talent that allows other players to be better, but when you want a bit more aggressive pressure he does not have the best qualities for that."

Arteta will not be in charge for Saturday's trip to Everton, with Freddie Ljungberg taking the team one last time ahead of the new head coach's Boxing Day bow at Bournemouth.

Unai Emery believes his Arsenal replacement Mikel Arteta will make a successful transition into life as a head coach.

Arsenal confirmed Arteta had signed a three-and-a-half-year deal on Friday, three weeks after sacking Emery and temporarily replacing him with Freddie Ljungberg.

Arteta has worked as assistant to Pep Guardiola at Manchester City since July 2016, but Emery is confident the ex-Gunners captain can become a notable boss in his own right.

"He really is prepared to make that next jump," he told BBC Sport. "He has been at Arsenal before, he's been in the Premier League and he has been working with Pep Guardiola. 

"I do believe this is a good decision and I would also like it to be a good decision."

Emery was dismissed by Arsenal on November 29 following a seven-game winless run in all competitions.

The former Sevilla and Paris Saint-Germain boss lasted 18 months at Emirates Stadium and, while accepting the club's decision, he felt he could have turned things around if given more time.

"We had to win to regain our emotional equilibrium, to get rid of that frustration and we couldn't," he said.

"What is true is the social mass of Arsenal, which is very big, couldn't see it, couldn't connect with what was happening and it is true that in this situation, as happens in every country and with every team, the coach finds himself targeted.

"I spoke to the players three or four weeks before the process began to tell them that things were not going well and that I couldn't see the team I pictured on the field of play; I couldn't identify what I was looking for."

He added: "We looked for solutions but results still didn't come. The club made its decision and that was passed on to me by Raul Sanllehi [Arsenal's head of football] with much regret because he also felt his share of the responsibility and we were very united.

"But the situation had become unsustainable as regards to the protests of a section of the fans. That said, I believe there was another important section who believed we could have been shown more patience and carried on with the project.

"I think we could have turned things around but I also understand those at the top have to take decisions and take responsibility."

Emery was linked with an immediate return to the Premier League at Everton and the 48-year-old revealed he turned down the chance to discuss a move to Goodison Park, where Carlo Ancelotti is expected to be installed.

"Now is the time to go home. To be with my people, to analyse a lot," he said. "I'll spend the next few days close to my family, with my coaches. And I've started doing a lot of soul searching. 

"We all spoke to each other and questioned what we got wrong. There’s been interest from teams but I want to just spend some quiet time and choose the right project. Different teams have expressed interest.

"To be honest I want to thank them [Everton and others] for wanting me and I told them that I wanted to be quiet, that I need to take a little bit of air. And to choose well the next project after many years of not stopping."

Mikel Arteta is the latest man to be charged with restoring success to a failing Arsenal, and Gunners fans will hope his previous working relationship with Pep Guardiola gives the Basque coach a head start.

Arsenal ditched another Basque tactician in Unai Emery last month and the process to appoint a replacement has been anything but swift.

Freddie Ljungberg took charge in an interim capacity but managed just a single win in five matches, highlighting the sorry state of the situation inherited by Arteta, whose appointment as head coach was confirmed on Friday.

It is former Arsenal captain Arteta's first job in management, having spent the three years since he retired from playing working as an assistant to Guardiola at Manchester City.

Guardiola has credited Arteta with improving him as a manager and believes the San Sebastian native is "absolutely ready" to strike out on his own after a "magnificent" time together at City.

Given his success in management, Guardiola has unsurprisingly been mentioned as a major inspiration for many coaches.

Here, we examine four others to have worked closely with Guardiola and enjoyed success.

Tito Vilanova

Guardiola and Vilanova came through Barcelona's youth academy together as youngsters, though the latter went on to spend much of his playing career in the lower divisions. They reunited as coaches in 2007, with Vilanova assuming the role of assistant with the Barcelona B side, before taking up a similar position when Guardiola was promoted to the senior team the following year.

They worked together until Guardiola departed in 2012, with Vilanova subsequently appointed his successor. He led Barca to LaLiga success despite requiring a leave of absence for cancer treatment, but he officially stepped down in July 2013 due to a relapse. Vilanova died in April 2014 due to complications from cancer.

Luis Enrique

Although Luis Enrique never worked specifically in tandem with Guardiola, he did succeed his friend and former team-mate when taking charge of Barca B in 2008. That meant Luis Enrique's team fed directly into Guardiola's senior side for three seasons.

"You could see from the start he was special," the City boss once said of the former attacking midfielder, who like Guardiola also won a treble in his debut season in charge of the Barcelona first team after spells at Roma and Celta Vigo. Luis Enrique has since gone on to become Spain coach.

Erik ten Hag

Ten Hag had already coached a senior team when he was put in charge of Bayern Munich's second string in June 2013, having led Go Ahead Eagles to a sixth-placed finish in the Eerste Divisie. Despite managing separate teams at the club, Ten Hag and first-team boss Guardiola worked closely. Guardiola said last season: "I was lucky to meet him at Bayern and he was an assistant from the second team. We had a lot of chats."

Ten Hag left Bayern the year before Guardiola and led Utrecht to fifth and fourth in the Eredivisie, earning him a shot at the big time with Ajax. Since his December 2017 appointment, the Dutchman has won a league title and taken Ajax to the Champions League semis last term. A return to Bayern – but this time with the senior side – appears likely.

Domenec Torrent

It is unlikely there is anyone in world football more familiar with Guardiola's work than Torrent. After first teaming up with Barcelona B, the pair worked side by side for 11 years until 2018. "When we started in La Tercera [fourth tier in Spain], I never thought I would be with him so much, but then we won every possible title," Torrent told El Diario earlier this year when he was in charge of New York City FC.

He presided over the MLS side as they won the Eastern Conference this year, before stepping down in November. Although keen to continue his management career, don't rule out a return to Guardiola's side. "If Pep calls me, I will go [to him]," Torrent said in May. "I am grateful and I know that I owe it all to him. If I had not been his assistant, I would not be here. I like being a head coach and I will only stop being one if Pep thinks I can be useful [to him]."

Arsenal appear to have strengthened their interest in Nuno Espirito Santo.

Just over two weeks after dismissing Unai Emery, the Gunners are reportedly ready to hold talks with one of the top contenders to take over at Emirates Stadium.

But the Portuguese is not alone when it comes to candidates with Premier League experience.

 

TOP STORY – GUNNERS STEP UP NUNO CHASE

Arsenal will ask Wolves for permission to conduct formal discussions with Nuno next week, according to the Daily Mail.

The north Londoners are reportedly ready to "set to accelerate their interest" in the 45-year-old former Valencia and Porto head coach.

Belgium boss Robert Martinez is also said to have been approached, while Mauricio Pochettino, Mikel Arteta and Patrick Vieira continue to be linked.

Freddie Ljungberg has overseen two draws, a defeat and a solitary victory since taking charge on an interim basis.

ROUND-UP

- Like his former employers, ex-Arsenal boss Emery will not be rushed into a decision on his next move. Marca says the Spaniard has turned down the chance to speak to two Chinese clubs and managerless Everton since becoming a free agent on November 29.

- Premier League champions Manchester City hope to bring wantaway winger Jadon Sancho back to the Etihad Stadium after losing him to Borussia Dortmund in 2017, reports the Daily Mail.

- On the outer at Chelsea, Olivier Giroud appears to be moving closer to the Stamford Bridge exit door. L'Equipe claims the France striker is close to agreeing personal terms on a January switch to Inter, where he would reunite with Antonio Conte.

- Serie A side Milan will be offered the chance to sign Luka Jovic on loan from Real Madrid in January, according to Tuttomercatoweb.

- Barcelona will listen to offers of €10million for teenage defender Jean-Clair Todibo, reports Mundo Deportivo. The Spanish newspaper claims Bayer Leverkusen, Milan, Monaco, Southampton and Watford have submitted bids.

- Real Betis have sealed a deal to sign former Atletico Madrid winger Yannick Carrasco from Chinese Super League side Dalian Yifang, according to Deportes Cuatro.

Arsenal have confirmed Kieran Tierney dislocated his shoulder in Monday's 3-1 win over West Ham, as a lengthy absence beckons.

Scotland international Tierney signed from Celtic in August for a reported £25million to bolster the left side of their defence, but his impact has been minimal due to injuries.

He joined the club during rehabilitation for a pelvic injury, limiting him to 11 appearances across all competitions.

The 22-year-old started each of Arsenal's two most recent matches, but he lasted only 29 minutes at West Ham after falling awkwardly in his own penalty area.

After receiving medical attention, Tierney gingerly walked off the pitch using his jersey as a makeshift sling. Arsenal announced the nature of his injury in a short bulletin on Wednesday.

A timescale for his return has not been provided, but he will not play again this year and is a doubt to feature in January.

Hector Bellerin sustained a hamstring injury during the warm-up before the West Ham win and is being monitored ahead of Sunday's visit of Manchester City, with the match against Standard Liege on Thursday coming too soon for him.

Nicolas Pepe, who scored only his second Premier League goal on Monday, will also miss Thursday's Europa League clash due to a bruised knee, though he has not been ruled out of the City match.

Granit Xhaka is out of both upcoming matches, however, after he sustained concussion at West Ham.

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