Barcelona are keeping a close eye on Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta with a view to hiring the 40-year-old in the future.
Arteta learned his trade under former Blaugrana boss Pep Guardiola at Manchester City, serving as his assistant before succeeding Unai Emery at Arsenal in December 2019.
The Spaniard won the FA Cup and Community Shield in his first half-season with the Gunners, but their Premier League finishes left a lot to be desired.
Arteta’s future has been called into question amid Arsenal’s domestic struggles in the past, as the ex-Everton man has failed to lead the Gunners back into the top four.
However, Arsenal have made a terrific start to the season under the Spaniard this term, picking up 31 points from the first 36 on offer in the Premier League to sit top of the table.
The Gunners have also sealed progression to the knockout stages of the Europa League, and Arteta was rewarded with a new contract until 2025 back in May.
Arteta had been linked with Barcelona before the appointment of Xavi, though, and Sport claims that the Catalan side are still keeping tabs on the former midfielder.
The report claims that Barcelona chiefs “highly value” the job that Arteta is doing at Arsenal, but they are unlikely to part ways with Xavi for several years yet.
Arteta is said to enjoy a strong relationship with both Jordi Cruyff and Mateu Alemany, which would benefit Barcelona’s chances of hiring him, but the Arsenal boss currently has no plans to leave the Emirates.
Furthermore, Barcelona were supposedly left impressed by Arteta’s management of the Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang saga, with the Arsenal boss not hesitating to strip the striker of the captaincy for disciplinary breaches.
Arteta has won 87, drawn 21 and lost 39 of his 147 matches in charge of Arsenal over the past three years and will aim to secure top spot for his side in their Europa League group when they meet FC Zurich on Thursday.
The Gunners will be joined in the Europa League knockout phase by Barcelona, who can only finish third in their Champions League group as they prepare for back-to-back seasons in the second tier of European football.
Nevertheless, Joan Laporta publicly backed the under-fire Xavi in the wake of their Champions League elimination, saying: “The result is a shame, but you cannot blame the players or the coach for anything. We have to look forward because we have La Liga and other competitions left to look ahead to.
“This is a young project in which from the beginning we knew we were going to have ups and downs. The league remains and we have to show that we continue. La Liga is very important and we are in the race. The message is to look forward. This has already happened.
Barcelona will finalize their Champions League campaign away to Viktoria Plzen on Tuesday night, and the Blaugrana sit just one point behind leaders Real Madrid in the La Liga table.