LONDON. — Arsenal have stepped away from making Luis Enrique the managerial successor to Arsene Wenger, although the former Barcelona coach remains the bookmakers’ favourite for the job.
The Gunners have been put off by Enrique’s £200million transfer war chest demands after secret London talks, according to the Sunday Times.
The Gunners had hoped the former Barcelona chief (47) would take over from Wenger, who is leaving the Emirates this summer.
However, reports suggest the North London club have now put the brakes on any potential deal over the outrageous transfer kitty request.
Enrique was the early favourite to succeed Wenger – who is stepping aside after 22 years in charge.
However, the Spaniard is believed to have signalled his desire to rip through the squad with major changes should he have agreed a deal with Arsenal.
Only the forward line was said to be safe from the axe, with £60m record-signing Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette untouchable.
Arsenal already deemed Enrique to be an expensive option to take over at the Emirates – with his wage demands said to be sky-high
Now the Gunners consider the Spaniard to be an “inappropriate fit”, say the Sunday Times, after asking for an outlandish transfer kitty.
With Enrique seemingly talking himself out of contention for the top job at Arsenal, the Gunners board have begun to look elsewhere.
One potential target is Napoli chief Maurizio Sarri – who has enjoyed another phenomenal season with I Ciucciarelli.
Another option for Arsenal is said to be Juventus chief Massimiliano Allegri, but on Saturday he vowed to stay in Turin for at least another year.
A Champions League and double Spanish La Liga winner before stepping down as Barca coach last year, Enrique would have been expensive, with his salary demands exceeding the pay of the man Arsenal invited to step down at the end of this season.
More importantly, it is felt that Enrique’s self-absorbed approach to management would not mesh with the London club’s restructuring strategy. The 47-year-old does, however, remain a strong candidate to replace Antonio Conte as Chelsea coach
Meanwhile, Manchester City will block any efforts by Arsenal to lure Patrick Vieira or Mikel Arteta as replacements for Wenger.
Vieira and Arteta played for the Gunners and have been mentioned in the Emirates boardroom as candidates to take the hotseat when Wenger leaves in the summer.
Vieira is in charge of New York FC – part of the Etihad empire, while Arteta is part of the coaching staff under Pep Guardiola.
City have high ambitions for both of their employees and will rebuff any attempts by the Gunners to hire them.
Vieira has been earmarked as Guardiola’s eventual replacement at the Etihad while Everton were interested in speaking to Arteta before appointing Sam Allardyce earlier in the season.
Guardiola also knocked back an enquiry from Wales about adding the former Gunners club captain to their coaching staff on a part time basis.
The pair are deemed as being crucial to the long term planning at City who are looking to create a long and successful dynasty under the ownership of Sheikh Mansour.
Departing Emirates boss Wenger favours a former Arsenal player to take over his managerial baton, one he has held for almost 22 years
Arsenal are meanwhile, tracking promising Swiss playmaker Djibril Sow.
The Gunners have sent one of their top spies to run the rule over the midfielder who plays for Young Boys in Switzerland.The 21-year-old scored a superb volley against Grasshoppers last month and that has prompted interest from around Europe.