Arsene Wenger’s future is currently the source of speculation as the manager has yet to sign an extension with the Gunners

Wenger is out of contract at the end of the season and has been non-committal whenever questioned about his future. This is not the first time the manager has run his contract down only to extend it at the end of the season, but there is a growing feeling among Arsenal fans that this could well be his last season at the Emirates.

The Frenchman has faced an increasingly hostile environment over the last 3 season as a result of Arsenal’s failure to either win or realistically compete for major honours, and the team has been booed on several occasions.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 13: Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger deep in thought prior to the Premier League match between Everton and Arsenal at Goodison Park on December 13, 2016 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

Set to depart? (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

Banners have appeared regularly both last season and this season calling for Arsene Wenger’s departure and this is a strong indicator of how the mood is changing at the Emirates. Wenger’s time seems to be running out, and the fan base is completely divided on whether or not the Frenchman should stay on.

Replacing a manager who has become so synonymous with a club is always a hard task – just ask Manchester United – and the debate over who should take over once the Frenchman does depart has been raging on for some time now. The Hard Tackle takes a look at three managers how have been linked with the job.

Eddie Howe

Eddie Howe’s reputation as a manager has been growing in stature ever since he earned Bournemouth a promotion to the English Premier League. Howe was manager of the Cherries back in 2011 and the job he was doing there impressed Burnley, who snapped him up in January of 2011.

Howe’s time at Burnley was short-lived, however, as the manager left Burnley in October 2012 citing personal reasons. He then rejoined the Cherries that same month and hasn’t looked back since.

Howe steadily improved Bournemouth’s side, guiding the struggling team to a 10th place position and only 6 points outside the play-off positions in the Championship in his first season back at the club. He then secured them a promotion to the English Premier league in 2015, and was named Manager of the Decade at the Football League Awards.

He has done an impressive job to keep the Cherries up and is now considered one of the most promising English managers around. At 39, Howe has a lot of time left in his career and he has shown that he is willing to stay at a club for a long period of time in order to maintain stability and constantly improve the side.

He also plays a brand of football that is not dissimilar to Arsene Wenger’s. Howe’s sides are always looking to attack and they play an attractive, passing brand of football. For a club like Arsenal, these two characteristics will definitely be at the top of their list when looking for a replacement.

However, Bournemouth have also been prone to conceding soft goals and giving up leads this season. One of the biggest criticisms of Arsene Wenger is his inability to shut out opponents and tighten up his defense and this season Howe has had problems with this as well.

Wenger himself said he did not know who would replace him when asked if Howe was on a shortlist, but the Englishman is definitely a contender for the Arsenal job. He already has some experience managing an Arsenal player seeing as Jack Wilshere is currently at his club.

BOURNEMOUTH, ENGLAND - JANUARY 03: Eddie Howe (R) the manager of Bournemouth greets Arsene Wenger the manager of Arsenal during the Premier League match between AFC Bournemouth and Arsenal at the Vitality Stadium on January 3, 2017 in Bournemouth, England. (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images,)

Changing of the guard? (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)

Massimiliano Allegri

Allegri is another manager who has been linked with the Arsenal job consistently over the last few months. The Italian himself was coy when asked if he would succeed Arsene Wenger and refused to deny the reports.

“I won’t deny or confirm anything,” he told Mediaset Premium, according to Sky Sports. “I am in sync with the club, now we have to focus on winning. At this time of the season the media always says I’m leaving, even when things are going really well.”

Allegri quickly shot to prominence after taking over Milan back in 2010 and leading the Italian giants to their first Scudetto for six years. However, in the 2012-13 season Milan’s ageing squad saw many departures of key players and Allegri had a task on his hand.

He was criticised for his decision to sell Pirlo to Juventus, but the manager still manged to get the best out of the depleted squad he had. In particular, he was able to get his younger players – such as Stephan El Sharaawy and Mattia de Sciglio – to play to the best of their ability, and impressively managed to guide the Rossoneri to a Champions League play-off spot.

The 49-year old has continued to impress after taking over at Juventus in 2014 and has guided the club to back-to-back Serie A titles since taking over. He also managed to take the Bianconeri all the way to the Champions League final in 2015 where they eventually lost to Barcelona.

Allegri’s playing style also suits that of Arsenal’s. The Italian usually prefers his side to employ a slow, measured build-up and he slowly changed Juventus’s style from Antonio Conte’s rigorous pressing to one of patient, surgical football after taking over in 2014.

His credentials cannot be questioned, however one sticking point is the fact that Allegri has never managed outside of Italy. Juventus are also the best side in the league by some distance, and although he has shown he can work with weaker squads during his time with Milan, competing in the English Premier League is a completely different prospect.

Juventus' Italian coach Massimiliano Allegri shouts during the Italian Serie A football match between FC Crotone and Juventus FC on February 8, 2017 at the Ezio Scida Stadium, in Crotone. / AFP / CARLO HERMANN (Photo credit should read CARLO HERMANN/AFP/Getty Images)

Another Italian manager in London? (Photo by CARLO HERMANN/AFP/Getty Images)

Diego Simeone

Like the aforementioned, Diego Simeone has been linked with the Arsenal job for some time now and is definitely the man most Arsenal fans want at the club. Simeone has done an incredible job since taking over at Atletico Madrid and has quickly earned a reputation as one of the finest managers in the world.

The former Argentina international first took over at Atletico in December 2011 and immediately led the side to an UEFA Europa League trophy. They then thrashed Chelsea to win 4-1 in the UEFA Super Cup and by the end of the 2012-13 season, Simeone had earned Atletico a place in the Champions League.

The following season was one of the most memorable seasons in the La Liga. Despite selling star player Radamel Falcao to Monaco and mostly maintaining the same squad to the previous season, Simeone led Atletico to a memorable La Liga title ahead of perennial winners Real Madrid and Barcelona.

Atletico confirmed the title with a dramatic draw against Barcelona at the Camp Nou, and such was the impressive nature of their achievement that Simeone and his side were given a standing ovation by the Barcelona fans after the game.

Under Simeone, Atletico collected 90 points in La Liga, surpassing its 1996 record of 87, making the 2013–14 season the most successful in the club’s history. That season, Simeone also showed just how capable he is in cup football as well.

In their quest for a Champions League title, Atletico defeated favourites Barcelona after Simeone’s tactics once again stifled the Catalans. He then held Chelsea to a goalless draw at home before completely outwitting master tactician Jose Mourinho at Stamford Bridge and convincingly beating the Blues 3-1.

Atletico looked on course for a victory in the final against Real Madrid but conceded an unlikely equaliser in the 93rd minute. Atletico then collapsed after putting in such an immense effort throughout normal time and eventually fell to a 4-1 defeat after extra time. They would lose to Real again in the final in the 2015-16 season.

The only sticking point many see with Simeone taking over is his brand of football. Simeone prefers stifling opponents as opposed to playing free-flowing football although it has to be said, Atletico do play some brilliant football at times.

However, his aggressive, demanding nature may be just what Arsenal need and that combined with his tactical nous and flexibility are a big part of the reason Arsenal fans want the Argentinian to take over at the Emirates.

Simeone can change the Gunners into a side that does not fold easily – something they have done with alarming regularity in recent years – and at this point that seems like exactly what Arsenal need.

SAN SEBASTIAN, SPAIN - NOVEMBER 05: (EDITORS NOTE: This images has been converted to black and white) Head coach Diego Pablo Simeone of Atletico Madrid looks on during the La Liga match between Real Sociedad de Futbol and Atletico de Madrid at Anoeta stadium on November 5, 2016 in San Sebastian, Spain. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)

Fan favourite. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)

Honorable Mentions

Thomas Tuchel has also been linked with the Arsenal job, but not as consistently as the top 3 on this list. The German has turned Dortmund into one of the most promising young sides in the world, but seems unlikely to move anytime soon.

Roberto Mancini was also linked with the job a few months ago, but now looks set to take over at AC Milan. Mancini has already shown what he can do in England after guiding City to a title but it seems unlikely that he will take over at Arsenal.

Red Bull Leipzig boss Ralph Hasenhuttl has also been linked after turning the German side into surprise contenders for the Bundesliga. The German has an impressive record but still has some way to go before proving he can take on a job of Arsenal’s magnitude.

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