Arsenal risk losing top Mikel Arteta assistant to Ajax

  • Arsenal assistant Albert Stuivenberg has caught the eye of Ajax
  • Dutchman rejected approach in 2023
  • Stuivenberg has "unfinished business" with Gunners
Albert Stuivenberg is Mikel Arteta's right-hand man
Albert Stuivenberg is Mikel Arteta's right-hand man / Richard Sellers/Allstar/GettyImages

Arsenal have a battle on their hands if they're to retain Mikel Arteta's assistant, Albert Stuivenberg, this summer with Ajax set to make a renewed approach for the Dutch coach.

Stuivenberg joined the club alongside Arteta in December 2019, later leaving his post as Wales' assistant to focus fully on the Gunners. He's highly regarded in north London, with supporters affectionately labelling him 'AirPod Albert' given the assistant's tendency to don a wireless headset in order to communicate with Arsenal's in-game analysts.

He's a calming presence next to the more effusive Arteta, but the Spaniard might be forced to undergo a search for a new assistant in the summer.

Arsenal risk losing top Mikel Arteta assistant to Ajax

Albert Stuivenberg
Stuivenberg is among the candidates to take the Ajax job / Marc Atkins/GettyImages

According to various reports, Ajax have listed Stuivenberg among the candidates to replace John van't Schip at the end of what's been a tough 2023/24 season for the Dutch giants. After enduring a historically poor start to the campaign, Ajax have recovered somewhat under Van't Schip and are in contention to secure European football for next season.

Manchester United's Erik ten Hag, Dick Schreuder, and Pascal Jansen are also being considered by the Eredivisie powerhouse.

Arteta was drawn towards the Dutchman due to a sharing of philosophies, and there's no doubt that Stuivenberg's ideals align with Ajax's DNA. “I want to play recognisable football,” Stuivenberg once said. “For me, that means that we play dominantly both defensively and offensively.”

Stuivenberg has coached Netherlands' youth teams and assumed assistant duties at Manchester United and for the Welsh national team. His sole experience as the leading man at club level arrived in Belgium with Genk, but the Dutchman's tenure proved to be brief.

Despite his inexperience, Ajax are certainly keen on appointing Stuivenberg and they've previously been rebuffed by Arteta's assistant. The 53-year-old turned down the job when the Amsterdamers came calling in 2023, citing "unfinished business" with Arsenal.

Even if 2023/24 ends without silverware, Stuivenberg will find it hard to reject the Dutch giants again. Opportunities such as this, to coach one of Europe's most esteemed clubs, don't come around often.