Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has stated that Mikel Arteta would be the ‘best option’ to replace him at the helm. Formerly an assistant at City, Arteta is now oversees league leaders Arsenal. The two friends face off against each other in an FA Cup game on Friday.

Guardiola made the comment during his pre-match press conference on Thursday. “I’m pretty sure if I left and he would be here, he’d be the best option,” said Guardiola. But I extended my contract, I’m sorry. It couldn’t happen.”

The City manager signed a contract extension to remain at the club back in November. However, the deal only added two years to the Spaniard’s stay in Manchester. The contract expires following the 2024/25 campaign.

Guardiola heaps praises on former City assistant Arteta

Guardiola was also full of praise for Arteta and Arsenal ahead of their matchup. “Arsenal is one of the most important clubs in England. I said many times we knew it, when he was here. His ability and capacity; [their success] is the biggest compliment to Arsenal as well.”

“The hierarchy, they trusted him in their bad moments. I guess it wouldn’t have been easy. At the end you need time and investment, but the results are there. It is a challenge for us to challenge them.”

Arsenal are currently five points ahead of the reigning champions City in the Premier League table. The Gunners have only lost one top flight match during the season, but still have to play Guardiola’s men twice in league play.

Arsenal boss admits ‘strange feeling’ to face Pep

Arteta also acknowledged the awkwardness of the two friends going head to head for the title. “It’s a strange feeling,” Arteta said in his press conference on Wednesday. “I always hoped that was going to be the case one day and it’s happening this season.”

“That’s not going to change any friendship, the moments that we have, how important he is in my life, how important he is in my profession. We’re both willing to win and defend our clubs in any way and that’s always been the case since day one.”

However, Arteta did also claim that he would rather be fighting for the title with another manager. “I would prefer to do it with someone else to be fair.”

The massive FA Cup fixture on Friday is set for at 3 p.m. and available to stream on ESPN+ here in the States.