Mikel Arteta faced the media ahead of Arsenal’s FA Cup fourth round tie at Southampton this weekend and discussed a variety of subjects as the Gunners prepare for the next stage of their defence of the trophy.
Arsenal have been linked with a number of players during this transfer window, having already moved Mesut Ozil, Sead Kolasinac and Sokratis Papastathopoulos on. So perhaps understandably, the upcoming trip to St Mary’s took a bit of a backseat in this latest press conference.
Here are some of the key points from what Arteta had to say.
A number of damaging stories on behind the scenes matters have been leaked to the press this season, making Arteta’s job even more difficult. Given his issues with the club of late, you could be forgiven for thinking Mesut Ozil is one of the prime suspects.
With his transfer to Fenerbahce all but completed, the Arsenal boss was asked whether he had found the mole and he said: “I have a sort of an idea, yes.”
He was pressed further on whether he had identified any of the departing trio as the culprits and responded: “No comment on that.”
“That option is open. We will be looking to see what is available.”
Arteta was honest that Kolasinac’s return to Schalke on loan for the remainder of the season had left the Gunners ‘a little bit short with a left-footed full back at the moment’.
He did, however, make it clear that he feels Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Bukayo Saka and Cedric Soares are all capable of filling in if necessary.
With the 19-year-old still yet to commit his future to the club beyond the end of this season, the boss was asked whether that has anything to do with the fact he hasn’t been involved recently.
Arteta denied that being the case, stating: “[He has not been involved] because [of] the competition that we have in [the] front positions. And because there are other players that haven’t had many minutes and they played in the FA Cup.
“It takes time. We have to respect that pathway. Eddie [Nketiah] as well is not playing a lot recently as well, and he is in front of him at the moment. So we have to be calm and respectful.”
It’s been recently reported that Arsenal are one of a number of clubs interested in signing the Norwegian on loan but Arteta remained coy and refused to comment on the speculation regarding the 22-year-old.
He said: “Sorry but I cannot comment about players that play for different clubs.”
Having made quite the impression on the Arsenal faithful of late, you can understand why the club may be looking to offer 20-year-old Smith Rowe an improved contract. Although it’s been widely reported that negotiations are ongoing, again, the Spaniard gave little away.
“Let’s go step by step. Emile has done really well. He deserves his chance. He’s taking it and grabbing it with both hands in a really convincing way. So, let him be things will come naturally.”