After announcing that he would step down at the end of the season, speculation has been rife over who will replace Arsene Wenger at Arsenal this summer.
The veteran tactician hasn’t been able to arrest the club’s slide in recent years, as they’ve consistently fallen short in their bid to win major honours aside from the FA Cup.
He will have the opportunity to bow out with silverware this season with the Europa League, but the Gunners will first have to get past Atletico Madrid in their semi-final tie.
Sky Sports pundit Gary Neville has had his say on Arsenal’s search for a successor, and he believes the man in the opposite dugout for that Europa League clash, Diego Simeone, is the ideal man for the job as Arsenal look to make their first managerial change in 22 years.
It’s a fascinating and sensible suggestion from Neville, as with Arsenal likely to be unable to compete financially with their Premier League rivals, he’s backing Simeone to be the perfect option given he has experience of doing exactly the same thing at a high level in La Liga for so many years with Atleti.
“They have to have a manager who can punch above their weight, and the outstanding candidate for me is Diego Simeone at Atletico Madrid,” he said on his podcast, as reported by Sky Sports.
“Season after season he has challenged, not just in the Champions League but in La Liga too, with a team that has a big budget but nowhere near that of Barcelona and Real Madrid.
“If you’re going to compete with that [spending of top PL clubs], you have to have an outstanding manager to do so, and Simeone is that manager in Europe at this time. He has continually done it.”
In all all-round succinct argument, Neville also touched upon possible concerns some Arsenal fans may have over the change in culture and style under the Argentine, as it differs significantly from what Wenger has built in north London.
However, he argues that perhaps the time has come for a change, and if Simeone can bring what he has instilled at the Wanda Metropolitano, it may well even be a positive for Arsenal moving forward.
It’s going to be a difficult choice and transition for Arsenal regardless of who comes in given how long Wenger has been in the job. But perhaps Simeone does have the characteristics needed not only to ensure that there is no immediate drop off, but also to build something of his own long-term.