Arsenal Number 1 on Guardiola’s list

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Getty Images

Representatives of the former Barcelona manager have let it be known to the north London club that he would be very keen to be considered for the manager’s job if it was to become available next year.

Guardiola, who is on a year’s sabbatical in New York, is in the frame for leading posts in England, as well as Continental giants like AC Milan, Inter Milan, Bayern Munich and Paris Saint-Germain.

Sources have told that Guardiola’s Premier League preference is to take the reins at Arsenal, ahead of Chelsea, Manchester City and Manchester United.

The Spaniard, who guided Barcelona to 14 trophies including two Champions League crowns and three La Liga titles during a dazzlingly successful four-year tenure, is expected to begin sifting through offers early in 2013.

The club are within two points of fourth place in the Premier League but have not won a trophy for seven years and one of their best chances of ending that run ended with the catastrophic Capital One Cup defeat to League Two minnows Bradford City on Tuesday night.

“Guardiola’s preference in England is Arsenal,” a source told “The club are aware he would be interested in the job in 2013.

“Guardiola doesn’t want to go to Chelsea. He is worried about the lack of stability. He also has a good relationship with Wenger dating back to when he started doing his coaching badges at Arsenal.”

Of the English elite who could be searching for a new manager, Arsenal have the history, prestige and stability that only United can beat and there is a strong possibility that Wenger’s reign could come to an end next summer.

The manager’s current deal runs until June 2014 and Wenger has been informally approached by the board to arrange a time to open discussions over a new deal.

But it is understood that Wenger has no intention of discussing an extension during the season and that he will assess his future at the end of the current campaign. “There will be no talks before then,” the source added.

It is expected that the tipping point in the decision of the most successful manager in Arsenal’s history will be whether he records a 17th consecutive top-four finish.

If Arsenal fail to attain a Champions League place this season, there is a strong possibility that Wenger will conclude he has failed to achieve his primary objective and agree an amicable exit strategy with the club.

Such is Wenger’s elevated status at Emirates Stadium that he has a far greater say in his destiny than any English-based boss, bar perhaps Ferguson.

Wenger is also expected to have a considerable say in who his successor will be.

The two men the Frenchman is most likely to recommend are believed to be Guardiola and Dragan Stojkovic.

In an interview last year, Wenger said: “I would love Stojkovic to be my successor, there are a hundred reasons for that.

“Our ideas are the same and we both strive for perfect football. I knew he was going to have teams playing attacking football with many passes.”

Read the article “Guardiola tells Arsenal: You’re my top choice in England” on

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