Arteta discusses ‘exceptional’ Aubameyang amid Chelsea links; praises ‘unity’ at Arsenal

·4-min read
Mikel Arteta arrives to Selhurst Park Credit: PA Images
Mikel Arteta arrives to Selhurst Park Credit: PA Images

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta insists he is “very grateful” for what Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang did for the club during his time in north London.

Aubameyang has been linked with a move to the Gunners’ London rivals, Chelsea, in recent weeks.

‘All Or Nothing: Arsenal’ splits opinion on Arteta. And Aston Villa are in trouble

Speaking on Friday, Blues head coach Thomas Tuchel was asked about the Gabonese forward, revealing that he has a “close bond” with his former Borussia Dortmund player.

And unsurprisingly, Arteta’s press conference on Friday included some questions about the 33-year-old.

The Spaniard was asked if he regretted how he handled the situation surrounding Aubameyang last season.

The Gabon captain had his club armband stripped from him in December following a disciplinary breach and he was ultimately allowed to join Barcelona for free in the winter transfer window.

“Listen, it’s a long time since that happened,” Arteta said (quotes via Football London). “I cannot go back each time there is a series. I have made my comments on that.

“I was really clear and honest with my opinion. What has been done has always been done to defend the club and put it in the best possible position, and be always as clear as, honest and consistent as we can.”

It was revealed in the ‘All or Nothing: Arsenal’ docuseries that Arteta had a “catalogue” of Aubameyang’s “misdemeanours”, and a reporter asked if he expects Chelsea to ask for the dossier he kept on the player.

He responded: “Auba is an exceptional player. He did so much for us. He was our captain, and I think we have to be grateful, very grateful as well, for what he did for this club.”

On if he will receive a good reception at the Emirates if he returns: “I hope he does because I think he deserves that.

“There are moments in life, there are moments in your career, and sometimes the trajectory or the objective of each individual is different to the clubs – and you have to respect that.”

There is a huge emphasis on the club’s culture in the Amazon documentary and how Arteta was concerned with it this time last year, however, he insists is now pleased with where the club are.

“I am really happy with where we are, the people we have at the club and what we’re building,” he said. “I could not be happier with that.

“It was the club’s vision to completely change that and create and install (a culture) that makes people who are working at the club proud and accountable for their jobs.

“I think we have that, and I think you can see that level of commitment and passion transmitted to our supporters. That’s why there’s such unity at the club.”

When asked if players are buying into what he is trying to build, as well as his famous non-negotiables, Arteta responded: “It’s the first thing we talk about is what we’re going to expect from them, what they’re going to expect from the club, what our values are how we want to behave and be perceived.

“It’s our passion, and it’s what we love doing, and to do that, we have to get on well. There are a lot of people, clubs are getting bigger and bigger every day, and you must first have that respect to enjoy ourselves together.”

It has been a busy summer transfer window at the Emirates, and Arteta was asked if he has heard the rumour that Manchester City are interested in Kieran Tierney.

His response: “No, and you know that I’m not gonna be commenting on individual cases.”

Following the departure of Pablo Mari this week, Arteta was asked if any more players are expected to leave before the window closes.

He said: “We had Bernd as well, we had Lucas Torreira. There were a few, and we had Flo Balogun on loan as well.

“We are still willing to finalise the squad in the way we want.

“Suppose we can add something great. But as well, there are a few players where we still have to find the right game time for them because, at the moment, I think it’s going to be difficult.”

Arteta revealed that Takehiro Tomiyasu, Fabio Vieira and Emile Smith Rowe have all been “reintegrated” into training, but only “some of them” will be in the squad to face Leicester City on Saturday following injury.

As for Tierney, he “looks in perfect condition now and ready to go” after a lengthy knee injury.

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