Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola says it was difficult to stop his former assistant Mikel Arteta from taking up his first managerial post at Arsenal.
After agreeing a compensation package with City, Arsenal announced their former captain as their new head coach on a three-and-a-half-year deal to replace Freddie Ljungberg, who took over as interim head coach following Unai Emery’s sacking at the end of November.
While in charge, Ljungberg won just one of his four Premier League games at the helm, while the club are on a run of only one win from their last 12 fixtures.
Arteta stands to earn an annual salary close to £5m, around the same figure that Emery was paid. However, the Spaniard is unlikely to be in the dugout for Saturday’s clash with Everton and instead would watch from the stands at Goodison Park.
The 37-year-old Spaniard now returns to the Emirates where he played 150 games between 2011 and 2016, winning two FA Cups and two Community Shields before retiring. The former captain joined Guardiola’s backroom staff in 2016 and will now embark on his first managerial post at his old club.
Guardiola said he was reluctant to lose his compatriot to Arsenal where he also spent five years as a player. But Arteta had to “follow his dream” as his former assistant was announced as Arsenal’s new head coach on Friday.
“He decided to move there. When you have dreams you cannot stop it. You have to follow your dreams,” Guardiola told reporters on Friday.
“Arsenal was important in his career, one of the best teams in Europe, I wish him all the best. I’m sure he’ll do an excellent job.”
Guardiola is expected to promote Rodolfo Borrell, also linked with joining Arteta at Arsenal, as his new assistant.
“We’ll stay with the same people, right now we are not adding anyone. We’ll work with the people who are here,” Guardiola added.
Guardiola’s focus will now switch to Saturday’s Premier League game against Leicester, a team who stand four points ahead of City in second place after an impressive start to the season.