Arsenal have confirmed that Mikel Arteta’s job title has changed from head coach to first-team manager – with the Spaniard set to work “really, really closely” with technical director Edu in multiple areas including in the recruitment of new players, giving him extra control than his previous role.
The Gunners’ new chief executive Vinai Venkatesham, who replaced head of football Raul Sanllehi last month, insists Arteta has been rewarded for his work in the nine months he has been at the Emirates helm with the new title effectively serving as a promotion.
Arteta led Arsenal to FA Cup glory last term and added another trophy to the cabinet last month with a Community Shield win over Liverpool at Wembley.
Now, the north London outfit are aiming at Champions League qualification in Arteta’s first full season after a busy summer in the transfer window.
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Arsenal have added Willian and Gabriel Magalhaes to the first-team squad on top of making Pablo Mari and Cedric Soares’ moves permanent and re-signing Dani Ceballos on loan from Real Madrid.
In addition to his work with the squad on the pitch, the 38-year-old was pivotal to the bulk of his players agreeing a 12-month 12.5 per cent wage cut back in April. Due to their qualification for the Europa League, the reduction has since dropped by 5 per cent.
And from now onwards, Arteta will be handed extra responsibility and ability to make decisions about how the club can further improve on and off the pitch.
His new title is the same that Arsene Wenger was afforded when he was Arsenal manager for 22 years, during which he brought Arteta to the English capital as a player.
It comes as part of wide-sweeping changes at the club after the recent restructure of their scouting department and the departure of former chief decision-maker Sanllehi, all of which came as Arsenal made 55 members of non-playing staff redundant due to the financial impacts of the coronavirus pandemic.
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“Mikel’s been here since the end of December and the last nine months have probably been the most challenging nine months in Arsenal’s history – and we’ve been around for 134 years. Despite all of those challenges, Mikel has been driving this football club forward,” Venkatesham told Arsenal’s official website.
“He has lifted the spirits and lifted the energy here at London Colney and with Arsenal fans all across the world. He is doing an absolutely phenomenal job.
“The other thing that’s clear is that right from the day he walked through the door, he was doing much more than being our head coach. So we’re going to be changing his job title going forward. He’ll move from head coach to be the first-team manager.
“That’s recognition of what he’s been doing from the day he walked in the door, but also where we see his capabilities.
“He is doing a great job of coaching the first team and that’s his primary responsibility, but there is so much more that he can bring and that’s why we’re making this change, in recognition of his capabilities and also the job that he’s doing already.
“So in terms of how that will work, going forward Mikel will join a really strong team with Edu and they’ll be working really, really closely together to manage all the other elements of our football operations that are so important, whether that is analysis, recruitment, high performance or medical, they’ll be looking after those areas together.
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“And they’ll also together be responsible for our technical recommendations, whether that’s players that we’re going to buy, whether that’s players that we’re going to sell, whether that’s players that we’re going to loan.
“Of course, working closely with me and the board and working closely with the owners on the financial elements to make final decisions.
“But those are going to be their responsibilities and I think we’re going to have a really dynamic team to drive this club forward.”
Former managing director Venkatesham is expected to head up a three-man team that oversees all football activities, made up of Arteta, Edu and academy manager Per Mertesacker.
Arteta is meanwhile believed to have been crucial in convincing Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to sign a new-and-improved three-year contract at the Emirates.
The Gabon striker, who scored 29 times last term, has yet to have his new deal officially confirmed but an announcement is imminent.
It is a huge boost for Arsenal with the 31-year-old’s previous deal expiring in 2021 and Inter Milan and Barcelona both keen on his services.
Arsenal meanwhile kickstart their new top-flight campaign on Saturday away at newly-promoted Fulham (12.30pm kick-off, live on BT Sport).
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