Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola hinted Mikel Arteta may find it difficult to turn a "struggling" Arsenal around if he is to become their next manager.
Arteta has been strongly linked to the position with Guardiola confirming the Gunners did meet with their former player over the past few days.
Though in no doubt over his assistant's managerial skills, Guardiola casted some doubt over whether any manager can help turn the tides for a Gunners side currently sitting 10th in the Premier League.
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“I think Arsenal [are] always one of the best teams of the last 20 years,” Guardiola said. “When Arsene [Wenger] took over the team, he raised the club to another level and now they are struggling a little bit the last years.
“When the club takes a decision to replace the manager or buy players it’s always to rise to be better. Whether it’s going to happen or not, I don’t know.
“You know my opinion about Mikel. He’s a professional human being and a person, I don’t have doubts about that.”
While there's some confusion over Arteta's immediate future, Guardiola stressed communication between the pair has remained forthright.
“Mikel was honest with me,” Guardiola said. “Arsenal - we were there two days ago. They were talking with our sporting director, the CEO and didn’t say anything.
“I don’t know if the meeting was at one at night because they didn’t want to make it public, but in the end it was public.
“I think Arsenal want to do the best thing possible. Sometimes it’s not easy to handle this kind of situation. We cannot deny that all the clubs around the world make behind the scenes the first contact to try to avoid the clubs that are in charge.
“All I can say from what I’m concerned is that Mikel was clear with me and that’s all. Perhaps there is a problem with the chairmen and the CEOs - they have to talk to each other.”
Guardiola conceded Arteta may struggle to turn down the chance for his first head coach role and declared he won't stand in his way should he decide to leave.
“It is a good argument. Why not [go]? It is uncomfortable for me. It is a question for Mikel, I am not in his brain," Guardiola said.
“We talk about it a little bit, but his feelings are his feelings. He knows we are delighted to work with him. Hopefully he is delighted to work with us. We would like to continue, but it is not in our hands.
“I said many times, it’s the same with the players, if they have other desires or wishes whatever, what can we do? We are not going to tell him, ‘stay, stay stay,’ if he doesn’t want to stay.
“He knows exactly what we think about him, at the club, after that, we cannot do more. I think the club has done everything and we cannot do any more.
“If he stays I’d be happy, incredible, because we all work together really well. Hopefully he can feel the same as me or with us.
“If he decides to move I’ll wish him all the best, for him, his family and for his professional future. I will beat him! That’s a joke. The best of luck.”