Arsenal had an eclectic mix of candidates ranging from proven silverware winners to revered talent developers and emerging club legends when replacing Arsene Wenger as manager in 2018, which has now been revealed in full for the first time.
The Gunners hierarchy were expected to appoint former captain Mikel Arteta, who has been learning his trade under Pep Guardiola at Manchester City, but Unai Emery was the man that eventually got the job.
It was reported at the time that Emery had been more of an outside contender and was not even on the original shortlist, but an incredibly detailed presentation blew club officials away.
Other reports revealed that he specifically wanted to build his Arsenal team around Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Aaron Ramsey. Sadly for Gunners fans, Ramsey soon left after running down his contract and accepting a deal for a free transfer to Juventus.
There were always rumours as to who was on the managerial shortlist drawn up by the club. Arteta was obviously one, while Massimiliano Allegri and Patrick Vieira were names mentioned in the press.
But now, David Ornstein has revealed for The Athletic the full list of seven candidates, as well as a handful of others who were discussed but never pursued.
They were: Allegri, Arteta, Vieira, Thierry Henry, Julen Lopetegui, Ralf Rangnick and Jorge Sampaoli.
Of the other considerations, Antonio Conte, Maurizio Sarri, Eddie Howe and Brendan Rodgers were the ones that for ‘differing reasons’ were never pursued. This was before Sarri was appointed by Chelsea and before Rodgers swapped Celtic for Leicester.
At the time, Lopetegui was still Spain national team coach and hadn’t suffered his ill-fated spell at Real Madrid – his controversial appointment came on the eve of the World Cup. Jorge Sampaoli was another international coach preparing for the tournament with Argentina.
Henry had never been a head coach at that time, having served as an assistant to Roberto Martinez in Belgium. He later got the job at Monaco, only to last a little over three months before getting sacked. Vieira, meanwhile, was at New York City and took over at Nice shortly afterwards.
Rangnick has been noted for his role as both a sporting director and coach at RB Leipzig, overseeing the club’s rise from the German lower leagues to the Champions League.