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Who are the leading candidates to replace under-fire Arsene Wenger at Arsenal?

Rob Meech

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Photo: Reuters

Arsenal‘s Carabao Cup final humiliation at the hands of Manchester City reignited the debate over the future of boss Arsene Wenger.

The Frenchman, who is the longest-serving top-flight manager having been in charge since 1996, is under contract at the Emirates until the summer of 2019.

Wenger revolutionised English football and elevated Arsenal to a new level, winning the Premier League three times in six seasons.

However, the 68-year-old’s grip on the hot-seat has never looked more fragile, with disquiet among Gunners supporters growing by the day.

Here, The Boot Room profiles four of the leading contenders to succeed Wenger at Arsenal.

Carlo Ancelotti 

The Italian is the current bookmakers’ favourite to replace Wenger, primarily because he is available after being sacked by Bayern Munich in September last year.

Carlo Ancelotti has an enviable pedigree, having managed a plethora of the biggest clubs in Europe.

As well as the Bundesliga giants, his CV features Real Madrid, Chelsea, AC Milan and Paris St Germain.

With Real he lifted the Champions League in 2014, and at the helm of Milan, PSG and Bayern, he won the domestic league titles.

It is his time at Chelsea that would potentially attract the powers-that-be at Arsenal.

Ancelotti’s spell at Stamford Bridge lasted two years, during which he completed the Double by capturing the Premier League and FA Cup in his maiden season.

The 58-year-old was controversially sacked at the conclusion of the 2010/11 campaign, despite having guided the Blues to the runners-up spot.

Perhaps it was their exit to Manchester United in the quarter-final of the Champions League that persuaded the notoriously trigger-happy owner Roman Abramovich to act.

Diego Simeone

The former Argentina international has long been linked with a move to England, having turned Atletico Madrid into a genuine force during his seven years at the club.

Diego Simeone helped to break the duopoly in Spain when Atletico pipped Barcelona and Real Madrid to the La Liga crown in 2014.

It was an astonishing achievement that catapulted him to worldwide fame and piqued the interest of Premier League chairmen.

Despite severe financial constraints, Simeone also piloted Atletico to the final of the Champions League twice in three years.

On both occasions they were cruelly denied by city rivals Real, losing in extra-time in 2014 and on penalties in 2016.

Atletico currently sit second in the La Liga table and although unlikely to catch runaway leaders Barcelona, they should finish above Real.

Simeone, 47, is known for an uncompromising style of football.

He is a hard taskmaster whose teams are built solidity at the back, rather than attacking flair.

This is typically un-Arsenal, although defensive stability is a quality they sorely lack.

Joachim Low

Since 2006, Joachim Low has been at the helm of the German national team.

Boasting a win percentage of 67 per cent, he has overseen a successful period, culminating in Germany’s historic 2014 World Cup triumph.

After thrashing hosts Brazil 7-1 in the semi-final, Germany edged past Argentina to have their name engraved on the famous trophy for the fourth time.

Many thought Low would call it quits at that point, but he stayed on and will lead them into this year’s World Cup in Russia, hoping to repeat their success from four years ago.

If the 58-year-old does then decide to quit, he is sure to be in demand.

On paper, Low would seem to be an ideal candidate to replace Wenger.

He has vast experience of dealing with top-quality players and his mentally-strong Germany side go about their business with a ruthless efficiency.

The only question mark over his credentials centres on the fact he has been out of club management for more than a decade.

If Arsenal do come calling, though, the lure of working on a day-to-day basis in the Premier League – and linking up with fellow countryman Mesut Ozil – could be too strong to resist.

Luis Enrique

Like Pep Guardiola before him, Luis Enrique had a spell as manager of Barcelona B before eventually taking the reins of the first team.

In his trophy-laden three-year spell at the Camp Nou, Enrique won two La Liga titles and the Champions League.

He opted not to extend his contract at the Catalan heavyweights and has been out of work since it expired last summer.

Enrique is one of the most coveted managers in world football and after a year’s sabbatical, he is certain to have plenty of suitors.

Recently, the 47-year-old has been linked with Chelsea as a replacement for Antonio Conte, whose fractious relationship with the club’s board has sparked rumours he could depart Stamford Bridge.

However, in pure footballing terms, Enrique would fit in perfectly at Arsenal.

His Barcelona side were a joy to behold, particularly in his debut season as they sealed the treble.

The Gunners are synonymous with attractive football and Enrique would adhere to that principle.

However, with potentially the pick of any European club, the probable absence of Champions League action could discount Arsenal from the reckoning.

Rob is a freelance writer, specialising in football, who previously worked as a sports journalist at the Dorset Echo. A long-standing AFC Bournemouth supporter, Rob can often be found on the terraces at the Vitality Stadium. Follow him on Twitter - @RobMeech

Arsenal

One winner and one loser as Arsenal set to retain Nacho Monreal

Arsenal’s decision to keep Monreal will have a major impact on the squad.

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Monreal
Photo: Getty Images

New Arsenal boss Unai Emery is overseeing considerable changes at the Emirates Stadium this summer but the services of Nacho Monreal will be retained.

Highly-linked with a move to LaLiga side Real Sociedad, Mundo Deportivo now state the Basque side have ended their pursuit of the 32-year-old as Arsenal want to keep him at the club and would demand a significant price for the full-back.

Having entered the final 12 months of his contract, the former Malaga man is unlikely to remain at Arsenal for the long-term but the decision to keep the Spain international for the 2018-19 season will have a major impact on the squad.

Here, we have identified one winner and one loser from the latest developments.

Winner: Joel Lopez

Arsenal are set to sign 16-year-old full-back Joel Lopez from the clutches of Barcelona, the Evening Standard states, and will sign a scholarship deal with the Gunners before securing his first professional deal next March when he turns 17.

The highly-rated teenager will join Arsenal’s U18 ranks and will then look to develop into a first-team asset for the Gunners, following in the footsteps of compatriot Hector Bellerin, and Monreal’s experience could provide a key learning curve.

Boasting 22 Spain caps, Monreal is the ideal role model for a young player like Lopez and can help craft the teenager into his long-term replacement.

(Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

Loser: Sead Kolasinac

Signed on a free transfer from Schalke last summer, WhoScored stats show Sead Kolasinac and Nacho Monreal shared first-team responsibilities last season as the Bosnian appeared 27 times in the Premier League and Monreal featuring on 28 occasions.

However, just ten of those appearances came in Kolasinac’s preferred position at left-back as Monreal was first-choice for the Gunners on the left-side of defence and that is likely to remain the case in 2018-19 under Unai Emery.

While Kolasinac’s versatility is a tremendous asset to the squad, it limits the 25-year-old in his quest to become one of the first names on the team-sheet and Goal state that Arsenal will eye a new signing if Monreal leaves, suggesting Emery does not rate Kolasinac that highly.

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Free agent Max Meyer would be Arsenal’s ideal Aaron Ramsey replacement

The Gunners would suffer a huge loss if Ramsey was to leave but this starlet would ease the pain.

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Max Meyer
Photo: Getty Images

Unai Emery’s work in the market so far at Arsenal ahead of the 2018-19 season has impressed but there is still significant room for concern.

The Gunners added Lucas Torreira and Matteo Guendouzi to their squad following the losses of Santi Cazorla and Jack Wilshere but are at severe risk of experiencing a huge blow, as Aaron Ramsey’s future remains shrouded in speculation.

Wales international Ramsey, a figure many fans believe would be the ideal captain at the Emirates Stadium, has less than 12 months remaining on his contract and the Gunners may be forced into a sale as they look to avoid losing the 27-year-old on a free transfer next year.

(Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

While Emery himself has stated that Ramsey is a crucial part of his plans for next year, his own admission that he does not know whether the former Cardiff City man will renew should send alarm bells ringing in north London.

“This is one question for the player, the club, but my opinion – I said to them – I think he is one important player for me. I’m very happy with him. Every day every training session he is with the ambition I want. He is working with quality. I want to work with him.”

Unai Emery discusses Aaron Ramsey’s future

Arsenal are confident of securing a deal with Ramsey, according to Football.London, but plans need to be made for the worse case scenario – and the Gunners could find their own bargain in the market in the form of Max Meyer.

Available on a free transfer after leaving Schalke, the 22-year-old Germany international is a target for Arsenal, alongside Liverpool, and Emery’s side are ready to do a deal as long as he lowers his staggering wage demands, according to TransferMarketWeb.

Capped four times by Germany, and a member of his nation’s squad at the 2016 Olympics, Meyer is widely regarded to be one of the best midfield prospects within European football and his versatility means he could easily fill the void left by a potential departure of Ramsey.

(Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images)

Additionally, his preferred position as an attacking midfielder could see Meyer stand as the best long-term replacement for compatriot Mesut Ozil at the Emirates Stadium, which would then allow Switzerland international Granit Xhaka to partner new signing Lucas Torreira in a deeper midfield role.

While speculation suggests that any more for Meyer does not necessarily hinge on Ramsey’s future, signing the Germany ace with the squad in it’s current shape would leave huge questions marks over who will play for Unai Emery.

Significant depth is required for the gruelling campaigns in both the Premier League and Europa League but a player like Meyer will demand first-team assurances, which he is unlikely to get if Ramsey renews his deal.

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Could Arsenal’s new project lure Newcastle captain Jamaal Lascelles to London?

The Newcastle captain had a terrific debut season in the Premier League.

Liam Thomas

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Jamaal Lascelles
Photo: Getty Images

Newcastle captain Jamaal Lascelles enjoyed a terrific debut season in the Premier League and as such has found himself the subject of many transfer rumours since the window reopened on the 17th May.

However, according to the Chronicle Live, it would take a hefty transfer fee to make Newcastle part ways with one of their prized assets and captain.

Despite this, Arsenal should consider making a move for Lascelles to strengthen their defence and there’s no hiding the fact new Gunners boss Unai Emery is concerned about his sides defensive frailties.

(Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

At 24 years of age, Lascelles has the youth and energy needed to survive the harsh Premier League calendar and this is something Arsenal’s defence has lacked in recent seasons; a defence which under Arsene Wenger became lazy and lax.

New Arsenal boss Unai Emery has already invested in Borussia Dortmund’s Sokratis Papastathopoulos to strengthen his back line, but it might take a considerable amount of persuasion to convince Lascelles to follow suit and make the Emirates stadium his new home.

However, it’s not every day a club of Arsenal’s statue come knocking, and to be part of the clubs new exciting chapter may be the perfect antidote to lure Lascelles away from St James’ Park.

“Nothing changes. The speculation might not even be true. Since I was a kid, there’s always been teams interested, speculation, paper talk and stuff on Twitter, and things like that. It doesn’t mean anything to me.”

Newcastle captain, Jamaal Lascelles, regarding the speculation surrounding his future.

But what would Lascelles bring to Arsenal back line? Leadership and stability, two traits that Arsenal’s centre back duo of Laurent Koscielny and Shkodran Mustafi ultimately lacked throughout the 2017/18 Premier League season and two qualities that the Gunners desperately need to be reincorporated into their defence.

It remains to be seen whether or not the new Arsenal boss will break the bank to bring the talented centre back to North London. However, there are not many other defenders in Europe who could come in and do the job as well as the 24-year-old Newcastle captain would.

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