Mikel Arteta has warned that Arsenal must not sell their prize assets if they want to improve, with their prospects of building a side that can challenge the Premier League’s leading lights still hanging on how they fare over the final six games of the season.
It appeared to be a clear message from Arteta that Arsenal need to keep Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, in particular, if they are to develop along the lines he wishes. Arteta reiterated his confidence that Aubameyang, who is out of contract in June 2021, will join Bukayo Saka in signing a new deal with the club but he knows they are operating on a financial tightrope, with the consequences likely to be particularly severe if they do not qualify for next season’s European competitions.
“We have seen different things; the way Chelsea is dealing with the market is different to the rest at the moment,” Arteta said in response to the suggestion that transfer spending around Europe may be smaller this summer owing to Covid-19. “Bayern Munich, as well, have been really aggressive, so I don’t know. If you ask me, we cannot be a team that has to sell its best player to try to bring in [others] and improve our squad, that’s for sure.”
The sentiment seemed clear enough: that an upgraded team should be built around Aubameyang, rather than funded by him. But Arteta, who has previously said he is preparing for three different squad-building scenarios depending on Arsenal’s league finish, did not rule out having to wheel and deal more generally in order to recruit.
“Again, we don’t know how the market is going to be,” he said. “Obviously, we are putting different plans together to see what we are going to be able to do. At the moment the uncertainty is still big as well. The way we are going to finish the season will dictate a lot of things financially as well so we have to be a bit patient and see what happens.”
Aubameyang became the quickest Arsenal player to score 50 Premier League goals after providing two in Wednesday’s 4-0 win over Norwich, saying afterwards that contract talks will continue with the club. Arteta has sounded increasingly positive about securing his long-term future in recent exchanges and explained why he feels such cause for optimism.
“It is the way that I feel, the way that I communicate with him, the conversations I have with him and the people around him,” he said. “It is the energy I sense. It is just my opinion, things change in football very quickly, but when you ask me in that moment how I feel about Auba’s future, in this moment I feel that he wants to continue with us and keep developing and help us to become a better team.”
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