Speaking to Goal, Santi Cazorla has delivered a ringing endorsement of Mikel Arteta’s credentials to be a major success as head coach of Arsenal.
Following the sacking of Unai Emery late last year, Arteta was handed the reins to permanently take over from his Spanish compatriot. And whilst results under the former Manchester City assistant haven’t exactly been the best – they still only have one win in the league to their name – the Gunners have put in some resilient performances, not least their 2-2 draw with Chelsea after going down to ten men.
And Cazorla has insisted even when he was playing together with Arteta at the Emirates, he could see the midfielder becoming a very successful coach.
He said: “Yes, I believed he would become a manager in the future. Even when I was playing with him, he showed great leadership in dressing room. Some say it’s a gamble for Arsenal to appoint him, but I believe it’s a reasonable challenge. He also worked as a coach under Pep Guardiola.
“I believe he can become a great coach. It’s not easy for any manager now to be like (Arsene) Wenger or (Sir Alex) Ferguson. I can’t anticipate how long he’ll stay at Arsenal, but I believe he can also make great career at Arsenal, and he’s a proper one for Arsenal. I hope Mikel leads Arsenal well.”
Cazorla’s comments about Arteta are likely to be well-received by Arsenal fans who may still have doubts over whether he is the right man for the job. After all, he had no actual managerial experience to his name prior to taking on the role with the Gunners.
The leadership that Cazorla says Arteta showed whilst the pair were playing together suggests the latter will have the respect of the Arsenal dressing room. This is someone who the Gunners players looked up to, and that can be key in trying to get a message across. If the respect isn’t there, then the effort and application may disappear out the window.
But Cazorla’s exciting prediction that he believes Arteta can become a “great coach” is special praise indeed.