Barcelona: Why Mikel Arteta would suit managerial role

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta Barcelona
By Nicholas Hughes

By Nicholas Hughes

Updated 9:33 AM - March 1, 2021

Barcelona will imminently name a new president, and reports are that depending on who it is, Mikel Arteta could follow as head coach.

According to Catalan radio, leading candidate Joan Laporta will look to bring Mikel Arteta to the club if he is to be elected.

Arteta is believed to have caught Laporta’s attention and could be in line for a shock move to the Nou Camp, barely a year after signing as Arsenal’s manager.

The 38-year-old is a graduate of Barcelona’s famed La Masia academy, but never made a first-team appearance for the club.

Since joining Arsenal, the Spaniard has won the FA Cup and Community Shield, and despite early-season difficulties has impressed this season, though the Gunners remain in 10th place on the table.

Perhaps most importantly for any potential move to the Blaugrana is the fact that Arteta worked under Pep Guardiola, arguably Barca’s best ever coach, for three season’s as his assistant at Manchester City.

Could Arteta bring Pep-ball back to Barca?

The former Everton and Arsenal midfielder has employed a similar passing approach to that of Guardiola’s preference, prioritising possession and playing out of the back with his Arsenal team.

After overcoming a barren run in front of goal earlier in the campaign, things seem to be clicking and there seems to be justification for Arteta’s links to the Catalan giants.

According to InStat, Barcelona average 62% of the possession per match in La Liga this season, compared to Arsenal’s 53% in Premier League games.

The Spanish side also attempt more passes and complete them at a higher rate, but there are similarities in statistics between the two sides indicative of a shared philosophy.

Defence has been a disappointed for Barcelona this season as they currently hold the worst defensive record in the top five, while Arteta has turned Arsenal’s backline around.

The Gunners conceded 48 goals in the league last season, enough for eighth best, but have shipped 27 in 26 games so far this season – the fourth best record, just two more than second-best Chelsea.

Mikel Arteta’s defensive record has been impressive

Arteta has done most of his work at the Emirates on a fairly strict budget, with Thomas Partey and Gabriel representing the bulk of his spending so far as emphasis has been placed on free and loan transfers like Willian, Dani Ceballos and Martin Odegaard.

The Spaniard has shown a commitment to playing youth with Emile Smith-Rowe and Bukayo Saka particularly featuring heavily and performing well this season.

If he were to move to the Nou Camp, Arteta would have some of the world’s best young talents at his disposal with Ansu Fati, Pedri, Riqui Puig and Trincao chief among them.

It would certainly be a gamble from Barcelona’s point of view to employ a coach on the back of just one full season in senior management, but there are parallels appearing between Arteta’s early career and the Barcelona way.   

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