Arsenal have started the process of replacing beleaguered manager Unai Emery amid growing dissension at boardroom level.
The pressure on the under-fire Gunners boss has intensified following Saturday’s 2-2 home draw against Southampton – who are second from bottom in the Premier League.
Alexandre Lacazette’s injury time leveller saved Arsenal’s from an embarrassing loss – but it still didn’t prevent a major supporter backlash against Emery, who has been told the team must improve or he’ll face the sack.
Sportsmail understands the club’s hierarchy are prepared to give Emery longer to prove he can transform Arsenal’s fortunes – but the process of identifying Emery’s long-term replacement has started.
Head of football Raul Sanllehi and technical director Edu are keen to give the Spaniard an opportunity to improve results – however, there are other members of within the club’s hierarchy who believe Emery should be relieved of his duties.
Max Allegri has his admirers at the Emirates, while Mikel Arteta, who was close to replacing Arsene Wenger at the helm before Emery was given the nod, could also come back into the frame.
This weekend, former Juventus boss Allegri has been strongly linked with Napoli with Carlo Ancelotti under increasing pressure at the Stadio San Paolo.
Intriguingly, Mauricio Pochettino, who was sacked by arch-rivals Tottenham last week, is well liked by key members of the Arsenal board – but the prospect of the Argentine agreeing to replace Emery given his connections to Spurs and the the Gunners’ transitional state seems remote.
Jose Mourinho would have been a contender to eventually take over from Emery – but he has replaced Pochettino at Tottenham.
Arsenal are aware attracting their preferred candidates will prove difficult mid-season, with that in mind a double-act of ex-players Freddie Ljungberg and Steve Bould – who are both coaching at the club – would be considered a short-term solution if Emery is sacked before the summer.
The club are reluctant to make a change mid-season and prefer to make a final decision on Emery at the end of the campaign but patience is starting to wear thin at the Emirates with the prospect of making a change now a emerging consideration.