Arsenal will miss out on snaring Pep Guardiola as a new manager because he will take over from Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United.
That is the belief of former Gunners midfielder Ray Parlour, who accepts that Guardiola’s footballing philosophy – he and Arsenal have been cited as a good fit by supporters and pundits alike – makes him an ideal candidate for the position should Wenger leave or “move upstairs.”
But Parlour, who made 466 appearances in a 14-year spell at the club he joined as a boy, insists the Spaniard would choose United over Arsenal if he decided to switch to the Premier League.
Guardiola, 41, will stand down as Barcelona manager at the end of the season after deciding not to renew his rolling one-year contract. He was handed the role in 2008 and has led the Catalan giants to 13 trophies and will be succeeded by current assistant Tito Vilanova.
Parlour, 39, told Arsenalinsider: “Arsene has a year remaining of his deal and the timing would be OK in that respect, because we think Pep will take at least a year out. But I can’t see Arsene leaving after a year although there is a slim chance he may move upstairs.
“I know a lot of people talk about Guardiola and Wenger sharing the same philosophy but I really can’t see it. Guardiola won’t have to wait long before he is being targeted after his break and I very much see United being the ideal club for him.
“Sir Alex will call it a day sooner rather than later and once you leave Barcelona there are only a handful of clubs you can go to that will match or surpass what you have have and United are one of them.
“Only he will know what he wants to do and given that he has been at Barca since the age of 13 he deserves some time off. But that won’t last and he will renew his hunger sooner than he anticipates.”
Arsenal have twice been knocked out of the Champions League by Barcelona. And Wenger has gone on the record to praise Guardiola’s efforts with the Catalan giants and says he is disappointed he is leaving the Nou Camp. Wenger said: “It comes as a surprise to me because first of all when you make a decision after a big disappointment like he has had in the past week, it may not be the right moment to make this decision.
“The philosophy of Barcelona has to be bigger than winning or losing a championship. Guardiola is one of the representatives of this philosophy and made this philosophy triumph so I would have loved him, even going through a disappointing year, to stay and come back and insist with his philosophy. That would be interesting.”
CARL ELDRIDGE – Follow me on Twitter @eldomedia