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Arsenal should replace Arsene Wenger with Rafa Benitez - Ray Parlour

Former Arsenal midfielder Ray Parlour has backed Rafa Benitez as a good choice to take over from Arsene Wenger, telling talkSPORT he would be "a great fit" at the club.

Benitez has been lauded for his work at Newcastle United this season, leading them to 10th in the table in their first season back in the top flight, but he is not widely seen as one of the top candidates for the Arsenal job despite stints at Liverpool, Inter Milan, Chelsea and Real Madrid.

But Parlour said Benitez's work at Newcastle means he deserves to be viewed as a serious option.

"What he's done for Newcastle this year has been amazing," Parlour said. "With not a lot of investment, he's got his team playing so well. They're out of trouble. They looked like they would be in a relegation battle. Now they're sitting really healthy in the league, mid-table, so he would be a great fit, but [we don't know] whether they want to go down that road.

"There's younger managers as well who they may say, 'Let's give them an opportunity,' or go for the experienced ones. Luis Enrique is, I think, the favourite at the moment. I know Chelsea might be looking at him as well, so this board have got to make a big decision there because I've always thought whoever takes over from Arsene Wenger is going to have a hell of a job to take the club forward. It's not an easy job."

Enrique, the former Barcelona manager, is among a handful of names viewed as the most likely candidates, along with Juventus' Max Allegri, Monaco's Leonardo Jardim, Germany coach Joachim Low and Celtic's Brendan Rodgers.

Newcastle United manager Rafa Benitez
Newcastle United's Rafa Benitez would fit in well at Arsenal, according to former player Ray Parlour.

The Sun reported that Arsenal chief executive Ivan Gazidis also views former captain Mikel Arteta as a serious contender after his work as an assistant under Pep Guardiola.

Gazidis on Friday promised to make "a brave and bold" decision when hiring the new manager, and the 36-year-old Arteta is by far the most untested of the top candidates.

Meanwhile, the Telegraph reported that the new manager will have a limited transfer budget of around £50 million this summer after the club spent big on strikers Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in the last two windows.

However, that figure doesn't include player sales, which could push the total amount significantly higher in a summer when several players could follow Wenger out of the club.

Mattias is ESPN FC's Arsenal correspondent. Follow him on Twitter: @MattiasKaren.


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