Sport

Merson: Arsenal would ‘be mad’ not to go after Conte

The Gunners should be looking to appoint the Chelsea boss as soon as possible, according their former star.

Paul Merson believes Arsenal would “be mad” not to replace Arsene Wenger with Antonio Conte should the Italian boss leave London rivals Chelsea.

Conte guided Chelsea to the Premier League title last season but his future at Stamford Bridge is uncertain following back-to-back defeats.

Chelsea crashed to a 4-1 loss at Watford, increasing the pressure on under-fire head coach Conte, with the Blues reportedly lining up former Barca boss Luis Enrique as a replacement already, though the Spaniard has ruled out a mid-season move .

Arsenal – sixth in the table – are five points behind fourth-placed Chelsea and should be looking to appoint Conte despite Wenger only signing a new two-year deal last May, according to former attacker Merson.

“The day Conte leaves Chelsea, if I was Arsenal, I’d be straight on the phone,” Merson told Sky Sports . “Managers like Conte don’t come along too often.

“Arsenal need someone that is going to go in there and upset people. Conte upsets people. He wants you to play a certain way and he’ll make you rock solid at the back.

“As soon as Arsenal get rock solid at the back, they’ll be a force.

“I think Arsenal would say: ‘we’d have you next season’. I think they’d be mad if they didn’t.

“I think it ticks all the boxes. Arsenal can’t keep missing all these managers. You can’t tell me Pep Guardiola wouldn’t want to have managed Arsenal? If he had that opportunity, he’d have gone to Arsenal in my opinion.

“Jurgen Klopp, Jose Mourinho, they all went to Arsenal’s rivals because Wenger was sat there in the manager’s seat instead of saying the time was right to leave.

“There are other top managers like Massimiliano Allegri at Juventus, but he might come in and it would take him a year to get used to the Premier League – like it did with Klopp.”

The Gunners face bitter rivals Tottenham at the weekend, and could close the gap on fifth-placed Spurs to just one point with a win.

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