Barcelona target Ernesto Valverde approached about replacing Arsene Wenger at Arsenal?

Eduardo Fernandez-Abascal
Ernesto Valverde

Athletic Bilbao manager Ernesto Valverde has reportedly received a phone call on behalf of Arsenal amid an uncertain future for Arsene Wenger at the Emirates Stadium. Barcelona have the Spanish boss on their shortlist of candidates to replace Luis Enrique ahead of the 2017-18 season but Marca suggests the Gunners could tempt him with a move to the Premier League.

Valverde, 53, is tipped to leave San Mames once his contract at Athletic expires at the end of the season, as he is looking for a new experience somewhere else, having been at the Basque side since the summer of 2013.

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The former Valencia, Villarreal and Espanyol boss ran out at Barcelona during playing days and reports in Spain in recent times have claimed that he and Juan Carlos Unzue are the two main candidates to take over at the La Liga giants when the season ends – after Luis Enrique announced his decision to quit the Nou Camp for a sabbatical year.

Valverde reportedly turned down the chance to join Barcelona in 2014 because he was still under contract at Athletic but is expected to say 'yes' this time if he is chosen ahead of Luis Enrique's assistant by the board.

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However, Marca now suggests that Barcelona could face competition after Valverde was allegedly approached on behalf of Arsenal regarding his availability for the Premier League.

The Spanish publication says that the former Olympiacos boss has always been attracted by the Premier League and the opportunity to replace Wenger at Arsenal would be "an enticing proposition".

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The reports from Marca will surely add more speculation over the future of Wenger just a day after Arsenal suffered a humiliating 3-0 defeat at Crystal Palace, leaving the Gunners seven points behind fourth-placed Manchester City, with a game in hand.

Wenger refused to clarify the situation following the game, claiming it would be "inconvenient" to talk about his future after such a big defeat.

"Honestly, I am disappointed tonight. After such a long time, to see that we've lost a game the way we've lost it is of course very disappointing. I think it would be inconvenient to speak about me tonight, it's more painful to lose the game like the way we lost this one," Wenger said in the press conference.

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