Unlike his close friends Pep Guardiola and Mauricio Pochettino, Mikel Arteta has yet to meet Marcelo Bielsa properly.
But the Arsenal boss has heard so much about the Chilean from those two and several other mutual pals that he holds him in equally high esteem.
Guardiola has been a disciple of Bielsa’s since making a pilgrimage to see him in South America when he was starting out in management at Barcelona.
While Pochettino, with whom Arteta played at Paris Saint-Germain, began his professional career under the Leeds boss as a youngster at Newell’s Old Boys in his native Argentina.
Both have stories galore to tell about the man known as El Loco, the Crazy One, and Arteta will no doubt have one or two of his own after sharing a touchline with him at Elland Road this afternoon.
Arteta said: “I haven’t spent any time with Marcelo but I know many players who have and one of my best friends spent many, many years with him.
“So I know a lot about his methods, who he is as a person, who he is as a manager as well and I have admired him for many, many years.
“I have followed his work, his ways of playing, the way he is able to change a football club immediately with his mentality and the messages he sends, with his personality, his charisma.
“And I’ve been very impressed with what he has done in England since he joined Leeds.
“He has transformed the club.
“He has transformed the belief of everyone around the club, the supporters, that they could come back and be the club they were a few years back.”
Arteta spent three-and-a-half years working as Guardiola’s assistant at the Etihad before taking his first job in management 11 months ago.
And while he has naturally learned much from the manager who, for many, remains the best in the game, many others, including Arsene Wenger, Alex McLeish, Jose Maria Amorrortu and David Moyes, have all helped shape Arteta’s take on the game along the way.
He added: “You obviously get the education from the coaches you had in your playing career.
“Coaches you know because of your environments or your relationships at clubs.
“And then you start to follow and contact managers all over the world with different ideas, different methods, to try to learn.
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“And then you see what fits in your culture and your way of watching the game and understanding the game and what you want to implement.
“There is a little bit of a mix but something has to be within you, your beliefs, and then you can take some details from somebody else.”
Arteta is still putting his own stamp on the Gunners and high up on his to do list is getting his goalscorers firing properly again.
Arsenal have managed just nine goals this season and have mustered the fewest second-half shots on target in all four divisions in England this season.
One change Arteta could make would be to move Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang into a more central role rather than having him come in off the left.
The Spaniard said: “I’m open to many options, as I’m open to use different formations and to change the team with different names.
“We need to help him more. He knows himself as well what he can do and the things that he needs to improve in his game to be more decisive.
“It will come, I haven’t known any striker in the world for 10 years who has never had a period when he’s not scoring as much.
“It’s how you navigate that period and how quickly you come back to what you have always done.
“For them that’s something normal. Just taking a natural way without putting too much pressure on yourself, and us as coaches finding ways to help him as much as we can.”
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