Arsenal's Petr Cech calls for urgency in manager search
The ESPN FC crew answer your tweets on Mikel Arteta's chances of replacing Arsene Wenger, contract extensions for Bayern's veteran players and more.
Arsenal may have finished in sixth place, some 37 points shy of centurions Manchester City, but there is still a lot that is appealing about the job of succeeding Arsene Wenger.
The Gunners have a fantastic stadium, a superb infrastructure and a talented if under-performing squad. Crucially, whoever takes over will also be afforded the opportunity to work with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. The former Borussia Dortmund man has hit the ground running at Arsenal, and will be gearing up to make a major impact in 2018-19.
Wenger has presumably left Arsenal with plenty of regrets. However, ranked high among his frustrations will be the fact that he only had five months with Aubameyang at his disposal. He is precisely the sort of athletic striker that Wenger adores.
He has the same kind of blistering pace and nose for goal that made Thierry Henry and Nicolas Anelka such hits in the Premier League. On early evidence, Aubameyang does not have the technical mastery of Henry, but his predatory instinct is second to none. In 12 Premier League starts (and a single substitute appearance), he has already racked up 10 goals.
He's averaged a goal every 106 minutes. That's some ratio: by way of comparison, Harry Kane has scored every 103. It looks as if Arsenal now have a marksman as ruthlessly prolific as the one plundering goals for their north London rivals.
Aubameyang's blistering form since arriving in north London has largely flown under the radar. That's a direct consequence of the fact that Arsenal's domestic campaign has been dead in the water for several months now. For some time, it's been apparent the club were likely to finish in sixth.
Inevitably, interest waned and Wenger began prioritising their European exploits. Unfortunately, a quirk of UEFA rules meant that Aubameyang was cup-tied for Arsenal's Europa League campaign. That rule has since been abolished, but European football's governing body saw sense too late for Aubameyang.
How Arsenal missed him against Atletico Madrid. The Gunners frequently got to good positions on the byline, but found there was no-one waiting to prod home their cut-backs. That's exactly where Aubameyang excels: his movement is as good inside the six yard box as it is off the shoulder off the last defender. Arsenal knew they had signed a brilliant sprinter -- they didn't necessarily anticipate recruiting such an astute poacher.
He can provide, too. Since Alexandre Lacazette returned to fitness, Aubameyang has found himself stationed on the left wing. Some marquee signings might sulk at the prospect of being played out of position. Aubameyang has embraced the role, and sought to link with Lacazette whenever possible. Four assists is a very creditable return for a player who is primarily regarded as a goalscorer.
Aubameyang's fast start is, in fairness, what Arsenal should have expected. When you pay a club record fee for a player in their prime, it's not unreasonable to think there ought to be an immediate return. However, now Arsenal have Aubameyang, they need to ensure they make the most of him. He probably has two or three seasons remaining at his very best. It would be criminal to let those go to waste.
Conventional wisdom says that the best teams are built from the back. However, who takes over at Arsenal will presumably take the opposite approach. In Aubameyang and Lacazette, the new manager will have the building blocks for a brilliant attack. The difficulty now is to build a team that accommodates and supports them.
That's a challenge the new manager will surely embrace. There are few forwards as talented as Aubameyang in world football. If the new Arsenal boss can sort out the defence, he can take solace in the fact that the goalscoring potential in this team is huge.
Aubameyang may not have made many headlines this season, but he should be considered one of the main candidates to wrest the Golden Boot from Mohamed Salah next year.
James McNicholas is one of ESPN FC's Arsenal bloggers. You can follow him on Twitter @gunnerblog.
Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola will team up with top golfer Tommy Fleetwood at a Celebrity Pro-Am event.
The City boss was on the golf course with Fleetwood last month when his team were confirmed as Premier League champions following Manchester United's surprise home defeat to West Bromwich Albion.
Now the pair will team up at the the Celebrity Pro-Am at Wentworth ahead of the BMW PGA Championship -- an event won by Seve Ballesteros, Jose Maria Olazabal and Rory McIlory in the past.
Fleetwood says they hit it off after their round on a Cheshire golf course as Guardiola took a break from City's intense title challenge.
"We were introduced through a mutual friend because I had always admired Pep and knew he liked a game of golf," Fleetwood said.
"I don't think either of us expected to get on with each other as well as we did but we hit it off immediately; his sense of humour is very similar to mine.
"He's a very good golfer and works hard at practising, too. I don't think he's the type to do anything half-halfheartedly. His son plays some great golf as well. I think if Pep took golf up he could be a champion.
"I wasn't with him when he found out United had lost, but he screamed his delight down the phone to me when the result came in just after we had left the course. It was very funny."
Pep Guardiola is going to play the BMW PGA Pro-Am alongside Tommy Fleetwood https://t.co/CDpPzHuvwk #BMWPGA #ManCity pic.twitter.com/eavMxqXyan
A number of former players will also play at the tournament including former England players Alan Shearer, Paul Scholes, Robbie Fowler and Jamie Redknapp and ex-City and Untied goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel.
"I've heard some great things about the BMW PGA Championship and I'm looking forward to testing myself in the Pro-Am," Guardiola said.
"After winning the Premier League, it will be a nice way to finish a great season.
"I know there are quite a few sports stars and former footballers in the field, so I think it will be very competitive and hopefully my golf will live up to the event."
Jonathan is ESPN FC's Manchester City correspondent. Follow him on Twitter: @jonnysmiffy.
Arsenal have let a number of key backroom staff members go as they continue their biggest restructuring in two decades following Arsene Wenger's departure.
A club source confirmed to ESPN FC that head of medical services Colin Lewin was told on Monday that he was losing his job after 23 years at the club, joining several other long-term Wenger allies in departing.
First-team coaches Neil Bamfield and Boro Primorac, goalkeeping coach Gerry Peyton and fitness coach Tony Colbert have also been let go.
Wenger's assistant Steve Bould has been told he can stay, although the Telegraph reported on Tuesday that the former Arsenal defender is waiting to see who the new manager will be before making a decision.
Arsenal are clearing the decks with the expectation that Wenger's successor will bring in a number of new staff members, while head of performance Darren Burgess -- who was hired last summer -- is overseeing a restructuring of the medical department.
Meanwhile, former midfielder Freddie Ljungberg is expected to return to the club as an academy coach this summer, possibly in charge of the under-23s, although that appointment has not been finalised yet, the source said.
Ljungberg helped coach the U15s in 2016-17 before leaving with then-academy director Andries Jonker when he took over as Wolfsburg manager.
Retiring captain Per Mertesacker is taking over as the new academy director this summer.
Mattias is ESPN FC's Arsenal correspondent. Follow him on Twitter: @MattiasKaren.
Arsenal goalkeeper Petr Cech has urged the club to appoint a new manager "as soon as possible" in order to give players clarity about the future.
The Gunners are searching for a successor to Arsene Wenger, with former captain Mikel Arteta seen as a front-runner after Juventus boss Massimiliano Allegri appeared to rule himself out.
They are hoping to announce a decision ahead of the World Cup, and Cech said he felt it was a case of the sooner the better.
"For the club it's important to know as soon as possible because you need to prepare the squad, you need to prepare the preseason," he said.
"The new manager will probably change little things here and there. So for the manager as well it's important to have more time to prepare for the preseason.
"And as well if he decides not to keep some players, then for the players, it's beneficial if they know in advance."
Cech said he believed the next manager needed to have a similar approach to that taken by Wenger.
"If you want that continuity then obviously you need to find someone who shares the same values," he said.
"There is a certain way that Arsenal has always presented itself and the way that the team plays football. So if he can carry that on and play the Arsenal way, that would obviously be great."
Meanwhile, striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang said he had believed Wenger was staying when he joined in January.
"I thought he would be at Arsenal for years," Aubameyang told the Evening Standard. "But this is life. This is football. Sometimes you never know.
"But I was happy to play for him. I learned a lot in not a lot of time. I am happy to be here."
Mattias is ESPN FC's Arsenal correspondent. Follow him on Twitter: @MattiasKaren.