Niko Kovac

Kovac eyes Arsenal job as Gunners step up search for Emery replacement

Niko Kovac wants the vacant manager’s job at Arsenal and his interest has been made known to the club’s hierarchy.

The 48-year-old has been out of work since being sacked by Bayern Munich in November, with Hansi Flick having stepped in as interim boss until the end of the 2019-20 campaign.

But Kovac and his representatives were spotted at Everton on Saturday where they watched the 3-1 victory over Chelsea from the directors' box at Goodison Park.

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His presence sparked speculation that he could be in the frame to replace the sacked Marco Silva on Merseyside, but he distanced himself from the suggestion - stating he was in England merely to take in a few games while he was on a break from football.

Kovac, who spent two years in charge of Eintracht Frankfurt before taking over at Bayern, is expected to attend Aston Villa’s game with Leicester on Sunday before travelling to London to watch Arsenal take on West Ham on Monday night.

And, although the former Croatia boss has insisted he is only in England on a fact-finding mission, Goal has learned that he is interested in succeeding Unai Emery, who was sacked by the Gunners last month.

Kovac’s representatives have been in contact with Arsenal to express his interest in the role as the north London club step up their search for a permanent replacement for Emery.

Freddie Ljungberg is currently in temporary charge and Arsenal have not ruled out the Swede getting the role on a full-time basis, but his cause has not been helped by results in his first two games in charge - a 2-2 draw at Norwich and a 2-1 home defeat by Brighton.

Freddie Ljungberg Arsenal 2019-20

Arsenal have started talking to potential candidates and, although Kovac is not seen as a frontrunner, he hopes his immediate availability could be viewed favourably by the Gunners' head of football Raul Sanllehi and technical director Edu, who are leading the hunt for the club’s new head coach.

Massimiliano Allegri and Mikel Arteta are both on Arsenal’s shortlist, although the former's insistence that he will not return to work until next summer could see the Gunners focus their attention elsewhere.

The Italian was interviewed for the role prior to Emery’s appointment and remains interested in the position, with his desire to work in the Premier League well known.

Arteta also missed out 18 months ago when Emery was appointed but it’s understood the former Gunners skipper - currently assistant to Pep Guardiola at Manchester City - would be willing to talk to Arsenal once again.

City, however, would be reluctant to lose Arteta during the season as he is seen as a hugely influential figure behind the scenes at the Etihad Stadium.

Mauricio Pochettino is also of interest to Arsenal and will return to London next week having spent some time back in Argentina after being sacked by Tottenham last month.

Pochettino has previously said he would never manage Arsenal given his connection with Spurs, but when asked directly about the vacancy at Emirates Stadium by TyC Sports over the weekend, he said: “It’s important to have a moment of calm to lower the decibels and find the energy to take on a new project, and we’ll see where that is.

“I’m going to spend a few days here [in Rosario] with my family and friends, and then I’ll return to London.”