Barcelona make contact with Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta’s entourage | Football

The Spaniard appears to be Barca’s number one choice to replace Xavi (Picture: Getty)

Barcelona have not given up hope of luring Mikel Arteta to Camp Nou and have spoken to the Arsenal manager’s representatives, according to reports in Spain.

The Catalan giants are looking for a new head coach after Xavi announced he would be stepping down at the end of the current season.

Arteta quickly emerged as a frontrunner for the job and a report in Spanish newspaper Sport claimed he was giving strong consideration to swapping Arsenal for Barcelona.

But the 41-year-old quickly dismissed the speculation, branding the report ‘totally fake news’ and said he was ‘upset’ by the links.

That has not deterred Barca, however, with Spanish publication Relevo reporting that club president Joan Laporta and sporting director Deco are still keen to try and prise Arteta away from north London.

They have been incredibly impressed by the job he has done at the Emirates while his history of coaching and developing players is exactly what they feel is needed for a young Barca squad.

His links to the club, having played in the academy and for the B team, are also attractive, as is the fact he previously coached under Pep Guardiola.

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta

Arsenal are once again competing for the Premier League title (Picture: Getty)

Arteta fits the profile of head coach both Laporta and Deco want to appoint as Xavi’s successor and they have not been put off by his previous press conference comments.

According to Relevo, Barca have reached out to his entourage to make an informal enquiry and try to ascertain how willing he would be to make the move back to Spain.

Any deal would be very complicated but not impossible, with Arteta only having just over one year left on his current contract with Arsenal which runs until 2025.

An agreement would likely hinge on Arteta asking to leave Arsenal and negotiating his own release from the north London club, with Barca unable to pay a big compensation fee due to their rather delicate financial situation.

Arteta is not the only manager Deco and Laporta are considering, with Brighton’s Roberto De Zerbi also a potential option – though it will cost at least £12million to extract him from his contract, which could prove too expensive.

Two other prominent options are former Germany boss Hansi Flick, who is currently without a job, and Thomas Tuchel, who is set to leave Bayern Munich at the end of the season and would also be available without having to pay a compensation fee.

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