Arteta calls for Lacazette commitment amid transfer speculation

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Mikel Arteta urged Alexandre Lacazette to focus on the task at hand with Arsenal amid speculation the striker could leave the Gunners.

Frenchman Lacazette desires European football next season, and is eyeing a move to a Champions League side after failing to make a single appearance in the competition for Arsenal.

The 30-year-old suggested, in an interview with Canal Plus, that former club Lyon are among several interested in signing him when his contract expires at the end of the season.

While Arteta understands it is up to Lacazette to decide his future, the Spaniard implored him to concentrate on the current challenge with Arsenal as they fight for a place in England's top four.

Arsenal head to Chelsea on Wednesday in the Premier League sitting three points behind fourth-placed Tottenham, who have played a game more.

"He doesn't need to tell me what he does in his own life but he has and we've discussed that and he's entitled to do that," he said of captain Lacazette at a pre-match news conference on Tuesday.

"His contract situation allows him to make the decision about the future. We have expressed clearly what our intention is, to speak in the summer when we know where we are and what we're going to do in the future together.

"For the rest, I just want him fully focused on his duty, which is now defending Arsenal in the best possible way like he's done all the time when he's been with us, and that's why he's been wearing the armband of this football club, so that's a big risk.

"The contracts start and end with the expiry date that you have agreed on the day that you put the pen down, and then you have to live with the consequences of that.

"That's the reality of the contract that he has and the commitment and the duty he has with the football club.

"That is the agreement that we made with him. That was our position, and our position remains the same - that this is what we are going to do.

"Then it's up to him because it's not about us or him, it's about both parties."

Alexandre Lacazette has underperformed his xG this season
Alexandre Lacazette has underperformed his xG this season

Lacazette missed training and was absent with COVID-19 against Southampton on Saturday; the Gunners suffering three successive losses in the league for the third time during Arteta's reign.

As Arsenal aim to avoid four consecutive league defeats for the first since March 1995 under Stewart Houston, Arteta was unsure whether Lacazette would return in time.

"With Laca we are assessing him today to see if he is available with the team, obviously as you all know he had Covid so he’s been away for a few days," he added.

"So we're trying to get [how] he's feeling and where he's at if he can contribute somehow with the team."

Should Lacazette leave in the close season, that may make room for fellow striker Eddie Nketiah, who is becoming increasingly frustrated with a lack of minutes.

"He is right to be upset," Arteta added. "This is what we want from the players that haven't had the minutes.

"Especially Eddie, because if there is a player in the dressing room that deserves more chances, that is for sure Eddie.

"It's not about pressure to play him, it's about trying to put a team there that can win football matches, and you believe that has the best possible chance to win it.

"Then just pick the players, regardless of the situation. We could have gone for a completely different approach and played him even less or don't give him any opportunities, or don't put him in the squad.

"We have to treat every player with the duty that we have. They are our players, we want to get the best out of them. With Eddie I said many times as well how much I rate him.

"We have big plans for him at this club for the future, and this is where we are today and we have to accept that reality."

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