Mikel Arteta has told captain Alexandre Lacazette to focus on finishing the season with Arsenal after the Frenchman revealed that he is talking to other clubs.
Earlier this week Lacazette gave an interview to French outlet Canal+ where he revealed he is in pre-contract talks with several clubs, including his former club Lyon, with the 30-year-old striker’s contract in north London expiring on June 30.
Arteta reiterated that Arsenal have a plan to discuss Lacazette’s future at the end of the season and told his captain that he has a duty to the football club to perform at his highest level.
“His contract situation allows him to make a decision about his future,” Arteta said. “We have expressed clearly what our intention is: to speak in the summer once we know what we do in the future together.
“For the rest, I want him fully focused on his future which is to defend Arsenal all the time like he always does and that’s why he’s wearing the armband.”
In the interview, Lacazette also revealed his intentions to play in the Champions League, with Arsenal currently locked in a battle with Tottenham and Manchester United for the Premier League’s coveted fourth spot that allows a seat at European football’s top table.
Lyon – who Lacazette played for before joining Arsenal for a then-club record fee in 2017 – are no closer to Champions League football than Arsenal, with the French club sitting in eighth place in Ligue 1, 17 points behind third spot which is the lowest position needed to qualify for the competition.
“I am in discussion with a lot of clubs,” the striker announced. “I have never cut ties with Lyon since I left. I try to return to the club once or twice a year to see the medical staff again because we are really close. They know that I am free [in the summer], they made enquiries.
“I want to play in Europe, it’s been a long time since I played in the Champions League too, so I miss it. Nothing is impossible in life but it’s a little more complicated [for Lyon without Europe].”
Arteta admitted he did not know that Lacazette was speaking to other clubs but said the striker was entitled to do what he wants with his future.
“He doesn’t need to tell me what he does in his own life,” Arteta added. “He’s entitled to do that and he has a duty to do his best here. It’s an agreement we made with him. Our position remains the same. It’s not about us or him, it’s about both parties.
“It’s not about me, it’s about me as a club. It’s the decision we made about the club, we had that decision to understand better of what we want to do in the summer. That’s what we decided. I cannot go into many details but there are a few things there.”
Arteta: Nketiah deserves more game time
The Gunners boss also addressed the future of Lacazette’s striker rival Eddie Nketiah, whose contract also expires at the end of June.
Nketiah told The Beautiful Game Podcast this week that he is frustrated about his game time at the Emirates Stadium. The 22-year-old has made 14 top-flight appearances this term, though only one of them – which came in last weekend’s 1-0 defeat to Southampton – was a start.
Arteta says Nketiah deserves to have more opportunities but says he is under no pressure to play him in order to try and keep him at the club.
“He is right to be upset and that is we want from players who don’t play,” Arteta said. “If there is a player who deserves more chances, then it’s Eddie.
“It’s not about a pressure to play him, it’s about putting the team there that can win football matches and the best possible chance to win it.
“We could have played him even less, we have to treat every player with a duty that we have, we want to get the best out of them.
“With Eddie, I’ve said how much I rate him and how we have big plans for him for the future.”
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