Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang had opportunities to leave Arsenal but has cited manager Mikel Arteta as a key factor in him electing to remain at Emirates Stadium.

Aubameyang penned a three-year extension in north London earlier this month to end mounting speculation.

Barcelona and Inter were among the elite European clubs linked to the 31-year-old, who conceded he was tempted by a fresh challenge.

"I was thinking about it to tell you the truth because I had good opportunities as well," he told Sky Sports.

"But this feeling to be here - the love from the fans and all the club - I'm not sure that by leaving I will receive the same love, so that's why I'm staying.

"I'm really proud to be the captain but it's not the biggest factor to stay. Of course, it's a great job to do but it was not a part of me staying here."

Captaincy and an adoring fanbase aside, it was Arteta - who frequently expressed his confidence that Aubameyang would re-sign - that had a major influence upon the Gabon international's decision with regards to where his career lay.

"Since he came in, he brings a lot of positivity and a new philosophy for us," Aubameyang said.

"I think that was important because it matched my game and I feel that I can improve with him. I think this was the key factor."

Aubameyang added: "We had a chat during lockdown and we were supposed to talk about a game and he said, 'Okay, forget about it, we're going to talk about the future' and he asked me what I wanted to do.

"I was like, 'I feel good since you came, I'm improving, and the philosophy is very, very nice so I just want to stay' and he was like, ''I'm sure if you stay you can leave a legacy, but it's all about you and what you want. Of course, you can leave and go for trophies in big clubs as well, but I think you can create a legacy here in this great club.'

"This was the key message to me and after that conversation I was like, 'Okay, it's all clear for me and I just want to stay' and that's it."

Aubameyang swiftly made good on Arteta's legacy plans by scoring both goals in Arsenal's 2-1 FA Cup final win over Chelsea, having also netted a brace in the semi-final win over Manchester City.

He also scored a brilliant goal and netted the decisive penalty in last month's Community Shield success over Liverpool, continuing a phenomenal recent record at Wembley.

Mikel Arteta has revealed he was not always confident Arsenal captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang would commit his future to the club.

Aubameyang, who scored in the Gunners' opening Premier League win at Fulham, signed a new three-year deal at Emirates Stadium this week.

A successful resolution to negotiations had been hinted at since the end of last season, with Arteta positive when discussing a possible renewal, even with Aubameyang's initial contract up at the end of the campaign.

But the Arsenal manager says such optimism was not always there, having identified that the club's tight finances might prove an issue.

"At the start, when I joined, I wasn't as positive as I was a few weeks ago," said Arteta, who was appointed in December.

"Obviously, financially, we were in a position where it was difficult to get what we wanted to get, and I think Auba had his doubts at the time.

"But things evolved in a natural way and I had a feeling that the club wanted to move forward.

"I had a feeling that Auba wanted to stay here and we were just trying to put those things together. That can sometimes take some time, but if the outcome is what we both wanted then we're happy.

"I played my part, which is part of my job, to try to explain to him what we are trying to do and how important he would be while we are building."

Aubameyang joined Arsenal from Borussia Dortmund in January 2018 and has since scored 55 times in the Premier League, as well as winning the FA Cup last season.

The 31-year-old was linked with moves to Barcelona and Inter before signing new terms in London.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang signed a new deal with Arsenal because he is at an incredible football club as big as those looking to prise him away, according to Mikel Arteta.

Aubameyang on Tuesday signed a new three-year contract with the Gunners. Barcelona were said to have made a concrete offer for his services, with Inter also reported to be interested.

Having previously been thought to be considering his future prior to Arteta's arrival as manager in December, Aubameyang is now tied to Arsenal until June 2023.

However, Arteta rejected talk of him being the primary reason in Aubameyang's decision to stay.

The Spaniard told a media conference ahead of Saturday's Premier League clash with West Ham: "I think the big reason why Auba is staying is because we have an incredible football team, football club.

"We have some fantastic people working here and because he feels as well how much love he's got from the fans.

"I played my part, which is part of my job to explain what we are trying to do and how important he was going to be and what we are building and that's it.

"The size of our club is as big as those names [Barca, Inter] and that's why I'm saying the most important thing is the football club, what we inspire, who we are as a club and what we can achieve in the future as well and how we explain what we are trying to do to make sure the players believe in our project.

"It's a joy to work with him, we have a really transparent relationship. We've been very clear with each other what we are trying to do, how big of a part he was in my plans for now and for the future and the way he trains, the way he behaves himself, the way he performs is exactly what I want from him.

"I want him to do that again consistently in the next few years."

Arsenal are poised to add to their squad with the signing of Dijon goalkeeper Runar Alex Runarsson, with Arteta - who dismissed questions about potential moves for midfielders Houssem Aouar and Thomas Partey - indicating an announcement is imminent.

Runarsson is set to replace Emiliano Martinez, who left for Aston Villa this week.

Arteta added: "Obviously with the departure of Emi, which is a big loss, we have to replace him and we've been looking in the market and I think we'll be shortly in a position to announce our new signing."

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has ended speculation over his future by signing a new three-year contract with Arsenal.

The Gunners captain's previous deal was due to expire next June, but he has agreed to re-sign with the Premier League club.

Prolific striker Aubameyang has scored 72 goals in 111 appearances since joining Arsenal from Borussia Dortmund for a fee of £56million in January 2018.

"Signing for this special club was never in doubt," Aubameyang told Arsenal's official website.

"It's thanks to our fans, my team-mates, my family and everybody at this club that I feel like I belong here.

"I believe in Arsenal. We can achieve big things together. We have something exciting here and I believe the best is to come for Arsenal."

In his first full season with Arsenal in 2018-19, Aubameyang scored 22 goals to be a joint winner of the Premier League Golden Boot.

Last term, the 31-year-old enjoyed another superb campaign, with 29 goals in 44 appearances across all competitions.

He scored both of the Gunners' goals in each of their respective FA Cup semi-final and final victories over Manchester City and Chelsea and continued his superb Wembley form with a fabulous strike in last month's Community Shield encounter with Liverpool, which Mikel Arteta's side won on penalties.

As speculation mounted over Aubameyang's future, Arteta expressed confidence he would sign renewed terms and the manager is delighted to have got his man.

"It was important for Pierre-Emerick to stay with us," he said. "He’s a superb player with an incredible mentality.

"Being the player to have taken the least amount of time to reach 50 goals with this club tells you everything you need to know about him and his way of working. 

"He's an important leader for the team and a big part of what we're building. He wants to be up there with the best players in the world and leave his mark. He can achieve that here."

Arsenal began their Premier League campaign with a 3-0 win over Fulham at Craven Cottage, where Aubameyang completed the scoring, and they are back in action at home to West Ham on Saturday.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has ended speculation over his future by signing a new three-year contract with Arsenal.

The Gunners captain's previous deal was due to expire next June, but he has agreed to re-sign with the Premier League club.

Prolific striker Aubameyang has scored 72 goals in 111 appearances since joining Arsenal from Borussia Dortmund for a fee of £56million in January 2018.

 

Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta hopes for good news on Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang's contract "in the next few days".

The Gabon striker scored the Gunners' third as they eased to a 3-0 win at Fulham in their first match of the 2020-21 Premier League season on Saturday.

Aubameyang has hit 55 goals in the top flight since his debut on February 4, 2018, which is more than any other player in the competition in that time.

However, the 31-year-old's future has been the subject of intense speculation in recent months, with his contract expiring in 20201.

Arteta stated this week that Arsenal fans could feel "pretty relaxed" about the player's future and he suggested again on Saturday that a positive update is around the corner.

"I'm really positive we're going to get it done and in the next few days hopefully we have some news," he told BT Sport.

Arteta was thrilled with his side's performance against Fulham, who had no response to the goals from Aubameyang, Alexandre Lacazette and debutant Gabriel.

Willian also enjoyed an impressive first outing for the Gunners, forcing the chance for Lacazette to open the scoring before assisting his side's further two goals.

"I wanted to see my team determined to come to this difficult ground against a really good team and do the things that we trained and show the spirit we showed again today," Arteta said.

"They've been training really well. For Gabriel, it was a big challenge to come to this small ground in the Premier League. I think he didn't play for six months with everything that happened in France.

"Mo Elneny again I thought did brilliant today. All the boys tried really hard; the ones that came on have to push these guys again."

He said of Lacazette, whose own future has been somewhat uncertain: "Yes, he is in my plans, he's a player I like a lot, but he knows he has Eddie [Nketiah] at his back, or next to him, I would say, and whoever is in better shape is going to play.

"It's the same for the rest of the team."

Arteta added that Rob Holding, who was tipped to join Newcastle United on loan, is now set to stay at Arsenal.

"I said to him 'change your mind because you're not going anywhere'," he said.

"Rob is another who stands for every value we want at the football club. He had a really difficult time but he trained and why would I have to let him go? He's already playing, what more do you want?"

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Arsenal debutant Willian matched famous feats from the club's history in the Gunners' 3-0 win against sorry Fulham on Saturday.

Following up their FA Cup and Community Shield triumphs, Mikel Arteta's side started their Premier League season in style at Craven Cottage.

Alexandre Lacazette got an eighth-minute opener, before Willian teed up his Brazilian compatriot and fellow new arrival Gabriel to score from a corner.

Willian had a second assist on his debut soon after when he played in Aubameyang, with the former Chelsea midfielder becoming the first Arsenal player to provide two assists on his Premier League bow for the club since Ray Parlour against Liverpool in August 1992.

Aubameyang's strike was also notable, as Opta confirmed he became the first Gunner to score on matchday one in consecutive Premier League campaigns since Robert Pires in 2003-04 and 2004-05.

The Gabon forward finished as Arsenal's top scorer last season, netting 31 goals in all competitions.

Arsenal's victory means the Gunners have have won their first match in successive Premier League seasons for the first time since doing so in each campaign from 2007-08 to 2009-10.

Arsenal fans can be "pretty relaxed" about the future of captain and star striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, says manager Mikel Arteta.

Gunners boss Arteta has made no secret of his confidence that Aubameyang, whose deal expires in June, will extend his stay at the Emirates Stadium.

Speculation has grown that the Gabon forward has agreed a new three-year deal at Arsenal, where he has scored 71 goals in 110 appearances since joining from Borussia Dortmund in January 2018.

With an official announcement still yet to be made, Arteta was asked if fans should be wary of celebrating too soon at a news conference previewing their Premier League season opener against Fulham.

"I can say that I am even more confident than I was at the end of last season when you asked me the same question 10 times!" Arteta said with a smile. 

"I am really optimistic, yes. I think they [the fans] can be pretty relaxed."

While the future of Aubameyang appears to be with Arsenal, goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez has been linked with a big-money switch to Aston Villa.

The Argentine impressed when deputising for the injured Bernd Leno towards the back end of last season, helping Arteta win the FA Cup in his first season as boss.

But with Leno now back fit and no guarantees over his playing time, Martinez has been tipped to seek pastures new.

"I cannot stop speculation that we have about all our players coming in and out," Arteta added. "I don't want to comment on individuals without having the right answer to give.

"We have some really good players in many different positions, some of them are duplicated. Some clubs come to us and their interest is to get our players. 

"It's very difficult to promise players game time or be the first choice, it's part of this period in the market, we try to manage the situation the best we can."

Mesut Ozil's situation at the club remains unclear having fallen out of favour under Arteta last term.

But during pre-season, Ozil has been sending messages suggesting he will remain at Arsenal and Arteta remained non-committal as to how he features in his plans going forward.

"Well there's not been any updates. All the players that we have available here have a contract with Arsenal football club," he said. 

"They are all treated the same way, all putting in maximum effort in every training session and this is what I expect from all of them."

It was confirmed this week that Arteta's job had changed from head coach to first team manager.

Asked for his thoughts on the switch in title, he replied: "I'm excited with this change, but I'm just here to try to do my job as good as possible.

"Obviously it's always nice to be recognised by the club, but I just want to help the club to do the right things, when I have to be involved great. 

"I just want to help this club be the most successful in this country as soon as possible in a sustainable way. That's my ambition we have to do it together."

While some get a slightly longer break, the Premier League returns this week for the majority.

Champions Liverpool get going against Marcelo Bielsa's Leeds United, back in the big time for the first time since 2004, while plenty of eyes will be on Frank Lampard's lavish new Chelsea side.

With the Manchester clubs, Aston Villa and Burnley not involved, this is an opening matchweek where you can afford to be a little more selective as you look for names to get you up and running.

If you need a little advice, then look no further - this Opta-powered selection is sure to get you off to a flying start.

HUGO LLORIS

While there might be one or two too many of those 'rare errors' in Hugo Lloris' form over the past two years, he is undeniably still a hugely capable goalkeeper.

Don't believe me? Well, based on Expected Goals figures, he prevented 9.5 goals for Spurs last season, the most of any keeper in the Premier League. He also had the highest save percentage (79) in the competition. And he only played in 21 games.

Given Spurs are unbeaten in 15 league matches against Everton, Jose Mourinho has managed 10 opening-day Premier League games without losing, and the Toffees have won once in 19 top-flight visits to London, Lloris looks a pretty safe bet between the posts.

 

MATT DOHERTY

A goalscoring defender in a Jose Mourinho team? You'd be mad not to consider him.

Matt Doherty has scored 15 goals in all competitions since 2018-19, more than any other Premier League defender in that time. Looking at goals and assists (eight each) in just the league in the same time frame, only Andrew Robertson (25) and Trent Alexander-Arnold (30) have more goal involvements than Doherty's 16.

Given Spurs' recent good form against Everton (see above), Doherty represents a solid selection.

 

TRENT ALEXANDER-ARNOLD

Yes, he's expensive, but really, there are few reasons to leave him out.

With five goals and 25 assists since 2018-19, Trent Alexander-Arnold leads the way in Europe's top-five leagues for goal involvements from a defender. He's hit double figures for assists (12 and 13) in each of the past two seasons, too.

Liverpool have not lost on the opening day of the top flight as reigning champions since 1924, and while Leeds United could make things tricky, Alexander-Arnold is almost certain to be involved in the Reds' best moments.

SON HEUNG-MIN

There's a real Spurs flavour to this week's picks - as we've established, Everton have a pretty lousy recent record against them - and Son Heung-min is another worth considering.

So often Spurs' go-to attacking star when Harry Kane is sidelined, last season saw Son register 21 goal involvements (11 scored, 10 assisted) in 30 games, his best record in England's top flight.

That works out at 118.3 minutes per goal or assist, which is enough to make the Everton defence feel more than a little nervous.

 

PIERRE-EMERICK AUBAMEYANG

Look no further for your first-week captain.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has been directly involved in 16 goals in 13 Premier League games against newly promoted opponents. In two matches against Fulham in 2018-19, he scored three and set up another across 5-1 and 4-1 victories for his side.

The Gunners have lost once in 13 league meetings with Fulham and are unbeaten in 24 matches in all competitions in September, so it seems like now is the time to give Aubameyang the armband - assuming he stays at the club, of course.

TIMO WERNER

Brighton, beware: only four players scored more goals than Timo Werner (28) in all of Europe's top-five leagues last season.

A very expensive new starting line-up is likely to be fielded by Lampard against Brighton and Hove Albion and you can bet Werner will be front and centre (or maybe front and left - we're not second-guessing your formation, Frank).

Chelsea's defence might not be trustworthy, but backing Werner to hit the ground running is a safer bet.

 

DANNY INGS

Danny Ings got 22 goals in the Premier League last season, the most by a Southampton player since James Beattie in 2002-03. And Beattie was a real fantasy favourite.

Southampton start away at Crystal Palace, where they have won in each of their past three visits without conceding a goal, and their nine away wins last season (a tally bettered only by Liverpool and Manchester City) suggest a fourth in a row at Selhurst Park is forthcoming.

With Ings having been directly involved in 14 goals (12 scored, two assisted) in 14 top-flight away games, there is every chance he could be matchweek one's top performer.

The main thing to remember after the full-time whistle sounds at the end of the Community Shield is that no one knows anything.

As a form guide, English football's traditional season curtain-raiser is often completely lousy – just in case there was any danger of unbridled optimism at Arsenal following their 1-1 draw against Liverpool and subsequent penalty shoot-out triumph.

Who could forget Manchester United sweeping aside Wigan Athletic in 2013 to promise prolonged glory under continuity candidate David Moyes?

Or even last season's meeting between Liverpool and Manchester City, a knife-edge tussle concluding in a penalty shoot-out that indicated there was nothing between the top two teams in the country.

Liverpool were back at Wembley on Sunday, having won their first top-flight title in 30 years thanks to amassing 18 more points than City, whose FA Cup semi-final conquerors were in the other dressing room. Mikel Arteta continues to build quite the list of big-game scalps.

The clues thrown up by this occasion are hard to deduce in normal circumstances, but seeing Arsenal and Liverpool wearing their new kits after a truncated close season, six days on from the Champions League final and two weeks before the new Premier League season blurs into the old, amounted to one of the more disorientating COVID-era sporting events in a crowded field.

AUBAMEYANG AND SAKA DELIGHT

Arsenal's opening goal was beautifully crafted. Arteta's men drew the most ravenous press in world football, only to find it operating with capped teeth. The Gunners moved their way up the field with a series of slick interchanges before Bukayo Saka picked out Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang with a wonderful sweeping pass.

Aubameyang, still at Arsenal and still the subject of a mooted new contract (honestly, you'd think the FA Cup final was only five minutes ago), gave teenage Liverpool full-back Neco Williams an early-season lesson. Show this formidable forward inside and back away and see what happens.

The Gabon international, who came to prominence under Jurgen Klopp at Borussia Dortmund, sent a sumptuous shot across Alisson for his fifth goal at Wembley in the past month and a half, having netted braces to down City and Chelsea on the way to FA Cup glory.

For all the promise in other areas of Arteta's team, Aubameyang is the only 24-carat, bankable world-class performer. That is not to say the promise is not considerable, certainly in the case of Saka.

Allied with his obvious technical proficiency, the 18-year-old Saka's cool-headed decision-making should be the envy of more senior operators. Arteta's willingness to use Saka in a variety of positions and his 13 assists in all competitions since the start of last season – only Kevin De Bruyne and Trent Alexander-Arnold have more among Premier League players – stand as testament to that.

Saka roved with calm intent in the spaces left by a sleepy Liverpool midfield, with Fabinho and his engine room colleagues seemingly keen to see just how good Virgil van Dijk is when given scant protection.

MINAMINO OFF AND RUNNING

The champions got themselves on the front foot after the break and Klopp will be buoyed by Takumi Minamino's prominent role from the bench.

Picking out flaws in one of the most dominant title-winning teams in English history seems a little churlish, but it is Klopp's job to do just that. The reported pursuit of Bayern Munich's Thiago Alcantara suggests he wants a little more finesse within the sinews of his mentality monsters.

Minamino should certainly help to that end and, following 14 fitful and forgettable appearances last term, he was at the centre of most of Liverpool's best work after coming on with an hour played – scampering and scheming as the fabled front three failed to fire. A well-taken equaliser was his reward.

That meant a confident set of penalties that said much about how much jeopardy was realistically present, even if Rhian Brewster's Fred Flintstone run-up to send the ball all the way to Bedrock via the crossbar was an ambitious move too far.

Aubameyang sealed the shield. Of course, it had to be him. Arteta will know there is still much to do, but every step of that journey will be easier if his star striker sticks around.

As for Liverpool, they conceded in the 12th minute, drew 1-1 and lost on penalties in this showpiece last season. Is a repeat of what followed on the cards? Remember, no one knows anything.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang said it is an "exciting time to be an Arsenal player" as head coach Mikel Arteta confirmed the striker was close to agreeing a new contract.

After opening the scoring in the Community Shield with a superb strike, Aubameyang converted the clinching spot-kick as Arsenal beat Premier League champions Liverpool 5-4 in a penalty shoot-out.

Aubameyang is out of contract in 2021, though discussions over a new deal appear to be not far from completion.

The 31-year-old indicated he was happy to be at Arsenal after the club secured their second trophy of this August.

"We're going to see in these [coming] days. Today we take the trophy, that's it," Aubameyang told BT Sport when asked about his contract situation.

"We are improving. There is still work to do but I'm really happy and it's an exciting time to be an Arsenal player."

Gunners coach Mikel Arteta indicated a deal is almost across the line.

"We are close," Arteta told BT Sport.

Looking at Aubameyang's performance in the 1-1 draw over 90 minutes, Arteta said: "Big games, big moments, big players.

"He's responded really well to that kind of pressure. He was magnificent in the FA Cup final and he was magnificent against today."

One player who may well be leaving Arsenal is Ainsley Maitland-Niles, who put in an accomplished display at left wing-back at the national stadium.

Wolves and Newcastle United are reportedly interested in the versatile player, but birthday boy Maitland-Niles insisted his full focus is on Arsenal as it stands.

"I'm an Arsenal player until I'm told otherwise," Maitland-Niles, 23, said.

Arsenal won their second trophy in August as the FA Cup winners beat Premier League champions Liverpool 5-4 on penalties after a 1-1 draw in the Community Shield.

Just 28 days after Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang struck twice to sink Chelsea 2-1 at Wembley, the Gunners triumphed in the new season's curtain-raiser in north London.

Mikel Arteta's side were forced to do it the hard way, with Takumi Minamino's first Liverpool goal having cancelled out Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang's 12th-minute opener.

However, Rhian Brewster – who has enjoyed a fine pre-season for Liverpool – missed his spot-kick, setting the stage for Aubameyang to wrap up another Wembley triumph for the Gunners.

Virgil van Dijk – sporting a cut to his forehead sustained in the pre-season clash with Salzburg last time out – had the ball in the net after seven minutes, but the flag was up for offside.

James Milner should have done better with a close-range header soon after, and Liverpool were quickly made to pay.

Having beaten Liverpool's press, Arsenal progressed down the right before Bukayo Saka picked out Aubameyang with a superb crossfield pass.

It left Neco Williams isolated up against Aubameyang, who stepped inside and curled a sublime 20-yard finish beyond Alisson.

Roberto Firmino sent a wicked strike just wide following the restart, with Emiliano Martinez then rushing off his line to deny Sadio Mane.

Naby Keita and Minamino were introduced as Liverpool looked to take the initiative, and the changes soon paid off.

After attempting to play a tight one-two with Mohamed Salah, Minamino was on hand to slot in after the rebound fell his way – VAR allowing the goal to stand after a check for handball.

Martinez made another superb stop from Mane moments later, while Joe Willock went close with a header at the other end as penalties were required.

Yet it was Arsenal who triumphed – Brewster, brought on to take a spot-kick, hitting the crossbar with his effort, with Aubameyang coolly sending Alisson the wrong way to condemn Liverpool to defeat.

Mikel Arteta is still waiting to learn where he fits into Arsenal's transfer structure following the departure of Raul Sanllehi, but he defended the club's expenditure amid redundancies and pay cuts.

Arteta, whose FA Cup winners face Premier League champions Liverpool in the Community Shield on Saturday, is overseeing his first pre-season as head coach at Emirates Stadium.

But the former Gunners captain is not yet entirely sure of how he fits into the set-up during the transfer window, even as Arsenal have already signed Willian and closed on a deal for Gabriel Magalhaes.

Head of football Sanllehi departed earlier this month, with managing director Vinai Venkatesham taking control.

"It's something that we are discussing at the moment," Arteta said.

"First of all, I want to wish Raul all the best, all my respect and admiration, because I worked alongside him and enjoyed working with him.

"The club made that decision, a very difficult decision, as well. But the way he left the club, I think he honoured them. Everybody had nice words towards him.

"Now we have to figure out what is the best way to run our football club on the sporting side. That's what we are trying to do while trying to achieve as well all of the targets that we have for this transfer market."

Arsenal's business has been complicated further by disapproval of their spending while announcing 55 staff redundancies.

The first-team squad also took a pay cut during football's shutdown due to the coronavirus pandemic, although Mesut Ozil refused and was critical of "pressure" from the club.

As Arsenal aim to complement the arrivals of Willian and Gabriel with a costly new contract for captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Arteta said: "I understand.

"If you look only from a financial point of view, you can get some contradictory messages.

"But what is clear is the club had a very thorough plan for how to restructure our club in order to function better and to be more stable for the future.

"They were very convincing with the argument that they gave to all of us that it was the right thing to do.

"Obviously, [the redundancies are] really sad, and during the COVID period, we had to make the decision to get our players to contribute to the pay cut. One of the reasons was to maintain some of [the staff], as well.

"We're trying to do the right thing and the club is trying to protect the future of our club as much as possible.

"The players were happy to contribute to help the club in this difficult financial position. That doesn't mean that after you're going to have a say in every decision made by the club. It cannot work like that.

"At the end of the day, it was not an obligation, it was a choice whether you wanted to do it or not.

"We tried to do the right thing in a human way to help a club that has been supporting us, in my case, for many, many years, whether you were injured, sick, performing or not performing.

"We believed that it was the right thing to do, and then the club has to be free to try to fight for the future in the most positive and stable way."

However, Arteta acknowledged Arsenal must find "the right balance" with outgoing transfers, adding the club are "very aware" of the need to meet Financial Fair Play regulations.

Meanwhile, the coach would not confirm if any players will miss the Liverpool match due to self-isolation measures but said Arsenal "have some different problems".

Mikel Arteta believes Arsenal are close to an agreement with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang over a new contract.

Aubameyang, who scored 29 goals in all competitions for Arsenal last season, has less than a year left to run on his current deal at Emirates Stadium.

However, talks over a new contract for the 31-year-old are ongoing, and Arteta – whose side face Liverpool in the Community Shield on Saturday – is confident a deal will soon be struck.

"I keep being positive," Arteta told a news conference.

"We have had some really good talks with him and his agent and I am pretty confident that we're going to find an agreement soon. That's my feeling again."

Arteta, who is also close to adding Lille defender Gabriel Magalhaes to his squad, is fully aware of the boost a new contract for Aubameyang would give the club.

"Absolutely, and for him as well," Arteta said.

"I think he should be very happy if he's able to stay at the club for a long time. I think people will be delighted with that news."

Lionel Messi reportedly has no plans to hang around at Barcelona, while Neymar could be targeted for a return.

Amid the chaos at the LaLiga giants, there is fresh speculation over Messi's future.

The superstar is contracted at Barca until 2021 – but perhaps he could make a move sooner.

 

TOP STORY – MESSI WANTS IMMEDIATE BARCELONA EXIT

Messi wants to leave Barcelona immediately, according to Esporte Interativo.

The six-time Ballon d'Or winner has been linked to Premier League giants Manchester City and Serie A side Inter recently.

Contracted until next year, Messi was expected to re-sign at Barcelona, but their capitulation in the Champions League has led to chaos at the club.

 

ROUND-UP

- With Barcelona moving on from Quique Setien, where to next for the LaLiga giants? Sport reports Ronald Koeman and former Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino are the main candidates, while AS says the Netherlands head coach is the frontrunner.

- Moves are also expected at Camp Nou. According to Sport, Barcelona are preparing a deal for Paris Saint-Germain star Neymar, ready to offer Antoine Griezmann and €60million to bring the Brazil international back to the club. AS says Barca are also prepared to sell Arthur, who is joining Juventus, Ivan Rakitic, Arturo Vidal, Martin Braithwaite, Junior Firpo, Samuel Umtiti and Ousmane Dembele.

- Pochettino is reportedly an option for Barcelona, but the Argentinian may have options. The Sun reports City are eyeing Pochettino amid doubts over Pep Guardiola's future as manager.

- It looks like Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is staying at Arsenal. The Telegraph reports Arsenal have agreed terms with the forward over a new deal.

- Chelsea are expected to sign at least one defender this close season. According to the Mirror, they are preparing a move for City defender John Stones – even if they land Brighton and Hove Albion's Lewis Dunk.

- Another Brighton and Hove Albion defender is apparently attracting interest. The Sun says Liverpool, Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea, Tottenham and Leicester City are interested in Ben White, who spent 2019-20 on loan at Leeds United.

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