Arsenal head of football Raul Sanllehi has denied any wrongdoing in his club’s pursuit of Mikel Arteta after reports emerged that Manchester City were upset over a lack of a formal approach.
Former Gunners captain Arteta was unveiled as Arsenal’s boss on Friday, leaving Man City, where he had served on Pep Guardiola’s backroom team for three and a half seasons.
The 37-year-old returns to London to find Arsenal struggling in mid-table, having endured a tough start to the season under Unai Emery, who was sacked at the end of last month.
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Reports suggested City were unhappy with the nature of Arteta’s move to Arsenal, although Guardiola and the club wished the departing coach well.
Pictures emerged of Arteta meeting with Arsenal officials days before the switch was completed, but Sanllehi believes the Gunners were “very respectful” in their pursuit of the Spaniard.
“In terms of the pictures, we didn’t think it was such a great deal,” Sanllehi said.
“We have been publicly explaining openly we are in a process of looking for a head coach, and we have been seeing many and in the houses of many. It just happened this time there was a picture for whatever reason.
“I do not know if it was a neighbour or someone following – I do not know and I do not care.
“In terms of Man City and given the tight relationship between Mikel and Pep, we have been very careful, extremely transparent and very respectful.”
Emery arrived from Paris Saint-Germain upon Arsene Wenger’s departure after the 2017-18 season, at which point Arteta was also in the running for the role.
But despite the way Emery’s tenure panned out, Sanllehi is still content Arsenal made the best decision they could at the time, while backing Arteta as the ideal candidate for the club’s future.
Asked if there were regrets, Sanllehi told reporters: “No, I do not like to look to the past.
“I like to look to the future, and at that time, we made a decision with the information we had. It is not time to regret. We made a decision conscious of what we wanted at that time.
“We are now conscious and convinced of what we are doing now.”
Discussing Arteta’s aims, Sanllehi said Arsenal “need to be in the Champions League” after failing to qualify in the past three seasons. He added Arsenal would look to win the Premier League “eventually.”
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