Former Arsenal midfielder Santi Cazorla has backed his former teammate Mikel Arteta to succeed at the North London club and help the Gunners win trophies during his stay at Emirates Stadium. Arteta has been impressive in his first ten games in charge of the Gunners, remaining unbeaten so far in 2020.
The former captain was appointed as the new substantial Arsenal manager on a three-and-a-half-year deal. Arteta stands to earn an annual salary close to £5m, around the same figure that former manager Unai Emery was paid.
The 37-year-old Spaniard left his role as Manchester City assistant manager and replaced Freddie Ljungberg, who took over as interim head coach following Emery’s sacking at the end of November.
Arteta returned to the Emirates where he played 150 games between 2011 and 2016, winning two FA Cups and two Community Shields before retiring. The Spaniard joined Pep Guardiola’s backroom staff in 2016 and has embarked on his first managerial post at his old club.
Speaking with the Arsenal website after agreeing to be the Gunners’ new manager, Arteta said: “This is a huge honour. Arsenal is one of the biggest clubs in the world.
“We need to be competing for the top trophies in the game and that’s been made very clear to me in my discussions with Stan and Josh Kroenke (owner and club director, respectively) and the senior people from the club.
“We all know there is a lot of work to be done to achieve that but I am confident we’ll do it.
“I’m realistic enough to know it won’t happen overnight but the current squad has plenty of talent and there is a great pipeline of young players coming through from the academy.”
However, in an interview with BBC Sport, Carzola praised Arteta’s leadership skills which he said make him the perfect candidate to manage the club.
The Villarreal midfielder admitted that he knew that Arteta would turn out to be a big manager when they played together and won two FA Cups during their spells in north London.
Carzola said: “Arteta deserves to the boss. He was always a leader in the dressing room.
“It was the right decision to put him in as manager; it made sense and he has everything you need for the job. ‘I hope he takes Arsenal up the table.’
Reports have it that Cazorla may return to the Emirates Stadium for one final send-off before he retires and plans for his life after playing football.
Carzola noted that going back to Emirates Stadium to say goodbye to the club’s fans is something that is left in his career. The 25-year-old added that he is yet to make up his mind about his retirement plans.
He added: ‘If I’m honest I don’t know if I will coach.
“I am undecided about what I want to do when I retire. Being a sporting director appeals to me more than coaching but I want to be involved in the game, whatever feels right for me at the time.
“I have no plans in the short term to go anywhere or play abroad but I would never shut those doors. I am focused on ending the season with Villarreal.”
The Spain international left the Gunners after six years in 2018 following two years out with a serious ankle injury. But he has made an amazing recovery at Villarreal and has even fought his way back into the Spain team.
He said: “It was frustrating to not be able to say goodbye to a club who treated me so well.
“It is something left in my career to say goodbye properly. I am eternally grateful to the club and the fans for the way they continue to treat me.”