Mikel Arteta would be Man City boss if I’d left… now he’s a rival and it could get FIERY vs Arsenal, says Pep Guardiola
PEP GUARDIOLA says Mikel Arteta would be City’s boss if he had quit.
But he did not rule out fireworks when their sides clash in the FA Cup on Friday.
Arteta was Guardiola’s No 2 from 2016 to 2019 but Pep’s decision to stay at Manchester City after winning a domestic treble saw his pal leave for Arsenal.
Guardiola said: “I’m pretty sure if I would have left, he would be here and he would be the best.
“But I extended the contract — I am sorry — and he didn’t wait.
“I am not a guy to say, ‘No, you have to stay with me’. Everyone has dreams.
“I know he went to ‘his’ club, the team he dreams of. He loves the club.”
And Pep, who faces his old pal at the Etihad in the Cup’s fourth round, said: “Anything can happen on the touchline.
“He’s a rival. I want to beat him and he wants to beat me — I know that.
“I know how we both are after a defeat — we are not best friends in the world — but I have a huge respect for him as a person and manager.”
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Asked if a bust-up could happen, Pep said: “I guess sooner or later something is going to happen but when it happens it is not going to change the respect I have for him.”
Arteta has come in for criticism for his antics in the technical area.
But when asked if he thinks some of the flak comes from jealousy, Guardiola said: “Absolutely. When you are top they have to undermine you for another reason and they are doing that now.
Anything can happen on the touchline. He’s a rival. I want to beat him and he wants to beat me — I know that.
Pep Guardiola on Mikel Arteta
“I taught him a few things but this passion comes from his character.
“I know him and I had the feeling during the time we worked together that what he is doing, it is not fake, it is him.
“In a training session and in a game, always he was complaining about referees, and that was as an assistant coach!
“It is what it is. So after that I am not a judge. Sometimes I behave in this way as well.”
England star Phil Foden is recovering from a foot injury but is close to a training return.
And Pep said: “It’s getting better.”
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