Who will be the next Arsenal manager? Analysing the Gunners’ biggest decision in 22 years

The club hierarchy want a sense of excitement next season and are keen to appoint a successor to Arsene Wenger who galvanises a fractured fanbase

Arsenal pays tribute to Arsene Wenger in send-off video

As the long goodbye comes to a close, the long search properly opens. Arsenal are now ramping up a process that they have not undertaken for 22 years, as they seek exactly the right successor to Arsene Wenger.

The end-of-April departure announcement means they don’t have to go about that with the same discretion that might otherwise have been required, but this is also the thing: it’s all gone a little bit quiet in any case.

There isn’t quite a flurry of activity right now, or names.

The club hierarchy are however said to be highly attuned to the noise of the fans. They are well aware of the discord among the supporters over the last few years, and how much disagreement there has been among the crowd, so are now keen to appoint a manager who “galvanises” the fanbase. They know this is crucial, and want a sense of excitement around the club again for next season. Majority shareholder Stan Kroenke is said to be particularly mindful of empty seats at the Emirates, and how that looks on TV.

That mindset would appear to rule out a number of the more esoteric choices for the job, including Liverpool assistant Zeljko Buvac and even Celtic boss Brendan Rodgers. Arsenal head of recruitment Sven Mislintat does know Buvac well from their time at Borussia Dortmund, but Buvac himself does not like the limelight and this is one instance where the club would want an appointment that would attract that limelight. This is despite the consideration at the club that it could be worth doing what they did with Wenger himself in 1996, and looking at someone who could be the next big-name manager, rather than someone who is a big name now.

Hoffenheim’s Julian Nagelsmann ticks so many boxes, and is greatly admired by many at Arsenal, but he is not expected to leave Hoffenheim for another year.

On the other side of the staff, Head of Football Relations Raul Sanllehi knows Luis Enrique from Barcelona and has spoken with him, but his wage demands are said to be excessive. There is also oddly an element of the unknown with Luis Enrique, since his managerial career has been mixed beyond Barcelona, where he was blessed with perhaps the greatest player ever in Leo Messi and a star-studded squad who just needed a bit of psychological management. As some in Spain have quipped, “everything critical that was said of Pep Guardiola’s coaching and how he coasted on that Messi squad is actually likely true of Luis Enrique”.

Nagelsmann is highly thought of at the Emirates

Former player Patrick Vieira is meanwhile not currently being seriously considered, despite so many fans singing his name during Wenger’s last home game against Burnley and progress made at New York City.

The circumstances so far do still sum up something else important about Arsenal right now. They are in nothing like the situation Manchester United were in 2013 when Sir Alex Ferguson retired.

This is perhaps one huge positive of Wenger staying so long. While the relative abruptness of Ferguson’s decision meant United as a club weren’t really prepared for it - and are really still adjusting to it - that is not the case with Arsenal. The hiring of Mislintat and Sanllehi show they have been putting the pieces in place for the next era, and they have been the key names in as many as 10 backroom appointments. Some alarms did ring about Wenger’s future as early as January, when he was asked about Mislintat and gave a comment that did raise a few eyebrows.

Vieira is not yet being considered 

“It’s not that we discover, we know every single player in Europe before Sven arrived,” the French great said. “Sometimes, in a little club in Germany, he might know somebody we might ignore.”

Arsenal sources say there has been a bit of a vacuum over the past two months, as the football side of the club has been pulled in two different directions. One was the past, and Wenger’s. The other was the future, and the new power structure.

While Arsenal’s approach in putting in place that structure does feel highly astute, and theoretically means they will avoid the problems that United encountered, now is when it will be put to test. Now we’ll see how smoothly it all runs.

There actually couldn’t be a more transparent examination of how well it works. There is no Wenger for everyone else at the club to stand behind any more, and that will best be illustrated by the search for his replacement.

Allegri would be the club's ideal choice

If they can extract the ideal choice in Max Allegri from Juventus, it would be a considerable first coup, all the more so because it would involve some tough negotiation.

It is a situation with other pressures too. This is a greatly curtailed summer due to the World Cup and a newly shortened transfer window, so a certain haste is crucial.

They can’t allow the search to be that long.

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