Pep Guardiola has talked up the managerial credentials of his Manchester City assistant coach Mikel Arteta.
Arteta, the former Everton and Arsenal midfielder, has been linked with a return to the Emirates Stadium as a potential replacement for the departing Arsene Wenger.
Guardiola is not aware of any interest from the Gunners but speaks highly of his fellow Spaniard Arteta, 36, who has been a key part of the backroom staff at this season’s Premier League winners.
Guardiola said: “My opinion of Mikel is overwhelming. He deserves the best. We are so comfortable – not just me – working with him.
“One of the reasons for our success this season is because Mikel is here. I know there a lot of names (spoken) of as the next manager after Wenger, but I don’t know the plan for Arsenal. Mikel deserves the best.”
Another name linked with the imminent vacancy at Arsenal is
, one of Guardiola’s former Barcelona team-mates and a managerial successor at the Nou Camp.
Speaking at a press conference to preview City’s trip to West Ham on Sunday, Guardiola said: “He is an excellent and amazing manager. He can go wherever he wants and, of course, Arsenal is one of the biggest clubs in the world.”
City secured the title almost a fortnight ago but Guardiola does not want to wind the season down quietly.
They thrashed Swansea 5-0 last weekend and he wants them to keep the momentum, perhaps to set new Premier League records for most wins, most goals and most points in a season. The current records, all held by Chelsea, are 30, 103 and 95 respectively. City’s current figures are 29, 98 and 90.
Guardiola said: “It’s not for the record itself – that’s okay, it’s nice – but just to help us keep focus on what we have to do against West Ham, Huddersfield and Brighton.
“To play football without intention, sometimes you play lazy and without what you need. That’s maybe why this can help.
“The four games left we want to finish on a high and think in a good way and try to win the games.”
One thing Guardiola says will not be happening is goalkeeper Ederson taking a penalty before the end of the season.
Supporters called for the Brazilian to be given the honours after City were awarded a spot-kick against Swansea.
“That’s not going to happen,” said Guardiola. “He’s a goalkeeper, there are other players to hit them.
“There is respect for the opponents, respect for the competitions. In friendlies or penalty shoot-outs maybe he can do it but in a (league) game, no.”