Mikel Arteta has yet to become a first-team manager, but after an influential playing career and stewardship under Pep Guardiola, he's become the hot name to step in for Arsene Wenger after his 22 years at Arsenal.
Last month, Arsene Wenger announced his plans to leave Arsenal at the end of the season. Although this is something that fans from all over the world were calling for, it still seemed a little unexpected.
The news caused immediate interest as to who would be the next man in the Arsenal dugout. Eyes turned to betting odds to see the shortlist of potential candidates. While it may seem that the Arsenal directors have been a little slow to implement a contingency plan, former Gunners midfielder Mikel Arteta's name has always been in the conversation.
Like many stylish, cultured midfielders, Arteta grew up in La Masia, Barcelona's famous academy. His teenage years were spent studying Pep Guardiola in the first team, reaping the rewards of Johan Cryuff's innovative philosophy. Arteta also experienced the tenures of Bobby Robson and Louis Van Gaal but couldn't break into their first-team squads at Camp Nou.
His route to England took an unusual flight path through Paris Saint-Germain and Rangers. At the age of just 23, he had played in three countries and embarked to his fourth when Everton came calling. Then-manager David Moyes had followed him closely and admired his ability to play behind the striker and score and create goals.
In 2006/07 Arteta was the Premier League's most-fouled player and was ranked third in assists with 12. He was carrying Everton to new heights but attracting attention from elsewhere.
Arsenal was his last destination as a player, arriving at the club in 2011. His technical and methodical approach to the game suited Wenger's style at the Emirates. Arteta replaced fellow Spaniard Cesc Fabregas who left for Barcelona, putting pressure on the ex-Everton man's shoulders from the off.
His role at Arsenal was different from those before, he played deeper and slotted into the Guardiola mold that he was built in from those days in La Masia. Arteta was the Gunner's pivot, a roaming playmaker linking defense to attack.
He took the captain's armband following Robin Van Persie's controversial switch to Manchester United, and proved, for two seasons, he was more than just a neat midfielder. He showed leadership, stepping up while Arsenal's best players were forced to leave among the financial pressure the Emirates stadium imposed.
Injuries limited Arteta's appearances on the field in his final seasons but the Spaniard was working behind the scenes on his football future. Speaking in November 2015, Wenger described his captain's importance: "Mikel has a huge influence, even when he is not playing". It was clear to see he has always had respect from the Frenchman and the club.
He completed his coaching badges in between sessions in the physio room and led sessions at Wales' FA as part of his education. He visited Guardiola's Bayern Munich, too, to observe and expand his knowledge.
In 2016 he hung up his boots to embark on a new journey, and his options weren't limited. He was offered coaching roles at Arsenal, Tottenham and Manchester City. He opted to broaden his horizons once more, joining City and a familiar face in Guardiola.
Arteta shares Guardiola's love of possession,fast-paced attacks and intelligent movement. Guillem Balague has described him as 'more than ready to be a No. 1' while his mentor, Guardiola, stated that Arteta's contribution to their amazing season was 'outstanding, amazing.'
He seems as wildly obsessed with the game as other elite coaches across the globe and will attack an opportunity at Arsenal with confidence. He understands modern-day players and possesses the ability to motivate them, to improve them as individuals as well as a team. The ex-midfielder would not replace Wenger's role in its entirety, but would fulfill the position of head coach, leading a change in the club's infrastructure with Sven Mislintat directing transfers.
Arteta's education through his path from La Masia to Manchester City saw him learn under Cryuff, Robson, Van Gaal, Wenger and Guardiola. An individual could not be any more prepared for the top position at Arsenal, despite the enormity of the opportunity.