Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola has insisted he will not stand in Mikel Arteta’s way if Arsenal come calling.
The former Gunners captain has served as Guardiola’s No.2 since he arrived in England and the pair have forged a close friendship at the Etihad.
Arteta was on the verge of landing the Emirates hot seat before Unai Emery was appointed in summer 2018 and he is now in the frame again.
Guardiola said: “I said many times with my players, staff, they’re free to do what they want to do.
“With Mikel, it’s about being a friend, I want the best for him.
“What I want is that we stay together this season and next season but I don’t know what’s best for him.
“But on Saturday he travels to Newcastle.”
Guardiola also said he had not spoken with Arteta about the Arsenal job.
He said: “I often speak with Mikel but I don’t know his future plans. We want to protect him and hopefully he can stay with us.”
Guardiola and Arteta have won back-to-back league titles together at City, but the champions currently find themselves nine points behind leaders Liverpool.