Arsenal fans are spending today adjusting to the fact that Arsène Wenger will no longer be the manager of their club next season.
The longest-serving manager in English football has announced that this season will be his last, bringing an end to a tenure of more than 21 years.
Losing Wenger is like losing a beloved family pet – sure, you can get a new manager, but they’ll be lucky if you love them even half as much.
The decision on Wenger’s replacement will be the toughest one Arsenal’s owners will ever have to make – get it wrong, like Manchester United did when appointing David Moyes as Sir Alex Ferguson’s successor, and it can set you back years in one go.
There are a few frontrunners, though, and we’ve got the lowdown for you on some of the leading contenders to take over at the Emirates Stadium this summer.
Read more: How Arsenal are you *actually*?
Juventus boss Allegri has seen his name mentioned in relation to the Arsenal hot-seat for a while now, and another year without Champions League success might be enough for him to move to pastures new. After reaching two of the last three finals in the competition, and having won Serie A in each of his first three seasons in Turin, Allegri’s pedigree is there for all to see.
However, having almost masterminded a phenomenal comeback against Real Madrid, he may want one last push for European glory with the Bianconeri next season.
The former Borussia Dortmund manager has worked with Arsenal’s head of recruitment Sven Mislintat, and recent signings Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Henrikh Mkhitaryan, in the past. He was also linked with the club last summer, when there was serious talk of Wenger stepping down, and is currently unattached.
However, it looks as though Paris Saint-Germain are the frontrunners for the German’s signature, with the French club expected to part ways with Unai Emery after more Champions League disappointment.
Another unattached coach, the former Spanish international midfielder already has a Champions League title to his name after leading Barcelona to glory in 2015 and would surely be high-profile enough to tempt some big-name players to North London.
However, according to reports, some of Arsenal’s top order aren’t hugely keen on the 47-year-old, who is understood to want more money than the club is prepared to pay.
If Arsenal are after continuity, who better than one of Wenger’s first signings. Indeed, the fact that a man brought in by Wenger as a fresh-faced 20-year-old is now in management says a lot about the outgoing coach’s longevity. Vieira was successful with Manchester City’s development squad and has led New York City FC to the MLS playoffs in both of his full seasons in charge.
The stumbling block may come from the fact that the Manchester club, with whom Vieira spent two years as a player, are thought to see him as a potential long-term replacement for Pep Guardiola.
Another man with links to both Arsenal and Manchester City, Arteta joined the latter as an assistant coach after ending his playing career in N5 in 2016. He won back-to-back FA Cups with the Gunners, and helped keep them at European football’s top table after arriving in the aftermath of a devastating 8-2 defeat at Manchester United.
The Spaniard would be popular with a lot of fans, but is now the time for Arsenal to plump for a rookie manager after two decades under the same man?
Okay, okay, hear us out. Stojković might be coming off a not-fantastic fifth place finish in the Chinese Super League, and he might have never managed in Europe, but there’s a reason we’re including him here. The Yugoslavia playmaker was one of the stars of Wenger’s Grampus Eight team in the mid-90s, winning the J-League MVP award under the Frenchman in 1995, and has also managed the Japanese side. If Arsenal are desperate for history to repeat itself, surely this is the way to go about it.
Well… he’s coming off a not-fantastic fifth place finish in the Chinese Super League, and he’s never managed in Europe.
Arsenal have been accused of lacking character, and if anyone knows about that it’s Brendan ‘Brendan’ Rodgers. He’s also won a league title more recently than Wenger and was one slip away from winning the Premier League with Liverpool.
That league title was in Scotland, and he was relieved of his duties at his last Premier League job after preparing for a crack at the Champions League by signing Rickie Lambert.
He knows success, having led Germany to World Cup glory in 2014, and has every chance of going back-to-back in Russia this summer. Also he’s known as Jogi, like the bear. Everyone loves bears.
He has never managed at club level. Never. Not once. Nada. Zip.
He’s won the Premier League before, with London rivals Chelsea. Ancelotti was a pretty handy player, too, so he ought to have the respect of players more than some other candidates.
He’s known for being an arm-around-the-shoulder sort of manager, not dissimilar to Wenger, and some feel the Arsenal squad have struggled lately precisely for that reason.