Arteta: Game-changer Guardiola an inspiration for more than 20 years

Cruyff is famed for his influence on football, both as a player and coach, and he is credited with developing the philosophy of ‘Total Football’.

His legacy was most felt at Barcelona, where Pep Guardiola played under him and the Spaniard has since brought that style into the 21st century.

Arteta believes, as a result, Guardiola is leaving his own mark on the game as those who worked or played under him move into coaching.

Arteta is one of those, but the list includes the likes of Barcelona boss Xavi, Burnley manager Vincent Kompany and Crystal Palace coach Patrick Vieira.

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“I think the influence that Pep had in football in the last 20 years is just incredibly powerful,” said Arteta.

“He changed the game like Johan did in the past, he did it like other managers have that will go [down] in history.

“So we have learned a lot from him, we have been inspired by a lot of things he’s done and then everyone has to build his own career and his own pathway.

“And that career is not for six months or a year or two years. Let’s see and let everybody develop in the way they should.”

Arteta first came across Guardiola at Barcelona, when he was an academy player and the City boss was playing in the first team.

The pair were later reunited some 20 years later when Arteta joined Guardiola to be an assistant at City after retiring in 2016.

They formed a close bond then, but Arteta left in 2019 and has since guided Arsenal to the top of the Premier League.

They are five points clear of City, with a game in hand, and face them in the FA Cup fourth round on Friday night.

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“I was looking at him and just wanted to achieve what he was doing,” said Arteta, recalling his time at Barcelona with Guardiola.

“I loved the way he played and the way he was transmitting on the pitch and understanding what was happening. He was an inspiration since I was 18-years-old.

“It’s his way of thinking, his way of transmitting, the way he understood the game, the passion he had about the game and football.

“It’s a lot of things and then, when you have a personal relationship with somebody – you have that chemistry – that takes that to a different level and that’s what happened in my case, especially when we worked together.

“Not only him, but a few of the senior players when I was at Barcelona were very good to me.”

Arteta may be inspired by Guardiola, but he insists there are differences in the way their teams play the game.

“I have never tried to copy and paste anything,” he said. “This club deserves much better than that, and it would not work that way.

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“Every character and person dictates how the manager is, and how the team is. And we are very different.

“We are really different as people and we are very different as managers. That is why we understand each other so well and have the relationship that we have.

“I feel gratitude, first of all because he inspired me as a player and he inspired me and gave me the opportunity as a coach. That’s it.

“I probably wouldn’t have had the career I had as a player, the understanding of the game or the purpose I had as a player if he hadn’t been in that time at Barcelona.

“And I wouldn’t be sitting here and having that willingness and love for coaching if he hadn’t trusted in my love and given me the opportunity.”

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