ARSENAL have earmarked Mikel Arteta to eventually take over as manager, according to reports.
The former Gunners midfielder is cutting his teeth in coaching under Pep Guardiola at Manchester City.
His work this season has helped City fly top of the league with a staggering 11-point lead over second-placed Manchester United.
The Telegraph claim Arsenal still rate Arteta, 35, despite his switch to the Etihad and see him as an eventual successor to Arsene Wenger.
He rejected coaching offers from the Gunners and North London rivals Tottenham to join Pep Guardiola at City in 2016.
Arteta completed his Uefa Pro Licence in September and is awaiting official confirmation of his final coaching badge.
It is believed that by the time Wenger's Arsenal contract expires at the end of next season, Arteta will be experienced enough to be considered as next boss.
Guardiola's Etihad deal runs out in the summer of 2019.
But senior figures at City are confident he will extend his stay as they plan to sit down with him at the end of the season and hand him a new contract.
This could scupper Arsenal's plans of a quick move for Arteta, who may wish to remain part of Guardiola's City side, especially if they go on to win the Premier League.
Guardiola reckons the former Everton and Arsenal star is responsible for the blistering form of England winger Raheem Sterling.
He said: "Mikel Arteta is working many, many days after training sessions for the last action, for the control in the last moment."
Arteta was allegedly hit in the face with a bottle as tensions boiled over at Old Trafford following City's 2-1 win this month.
Players and coaches clashed in the dressing room after the visitors' supposed "raucous" celebrations.
Upon joining City, Arteta said: "I've enjoyed my amazing five years at Arsenal and it's been an honour and a privilege to captain such a great club.
"I am now looking forward to the challenge ahead at Manchester City.
"The opportunity to join Pep Guardiola and his team was an amazing opportunity for me and I am incredibly excited for the future."
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