Former Nigerian international Haruna Babangida has been impressed with how well his former teammate at Barcelona has taken to coaching since taking charge of the Gunners.
One-cap Super Eagles forward Babangida has lauded the management ability of Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta, revealing that the Spaniard had it in him since their trainee days at the Barcelona academy.
The Gunners struggled terribly at the early part of the season, leading to the sacking of Unai Emery in November. Arteta was then appointed to take over from caretaker boss Freddie Ljungberg, having served as Pep Guardiola’s assistant at Manchester City.
The appointment of the former Everton skipper has resulted in a mini-turnaround for the London club, with Arsenal enjoying a run of eight games without defeat in the Premier League before its coronavirus-induced suspension.
It all began at Barcelona B in the late nineties for Arteta, where he was bunk-mates with Babangida, sibling of 1996 Atlanta Olympics gold medalist, Tijani.
Babangida was then a kid wonder, scoring 42 goals in 110 appearances for Barcelona’s B team, but he never made an appearance for the senior side before moving to Ukraine in 2004.
Arteta also never featured for Barca’s A team, but Babangida insists that it was evident that he was destined to become a coach.
“The first thing to say is that Mikel was a lovely boy and a good friend. We were in the same room, and he was sleeping under me on those up-and-down bunk beds,” Babangida told the Athletic
“Mikel has always done things right, but he would never have believed he would become Arsenal manager.
“But I did see signs. He was a player who you knew understood the game. ”
“He made the right passes, gave the right instructions. He was a leader, and even at the time, his style and mannerisms were similar to Pep Guardiola, who I also trained with a lot.
“You could tell that one day they would both be coaches,” Babangida added.