Martin Odegaard will not be involved for Real Madrid against Deportivo Alaves amid speculation he could be set to join Arsenal. 

Odegaard excelled out on loan at Real Sociedad in the 2019-20 season but has found first-team opportunities limited under Zinedine Zidane upon his return to the Spanish capital.  

The Norway international has failed to score or assist in his nine appearances this season in all competitions and, having made just five starts, seems keen to seal a move away in January.  

A return to the Basque club – where he managed seven goals and nine assists in 36 appearances – appeared to be on the cards, but Arsenal have now emerged as the clear favourites to sign the midfielder on loan.  

Madrid assistant coach David Bettoni, who is to take charge of Madrid while Zidane isolates after testing positive for coronavirus, was asked about Odegaard's future during his media duties on Friday - and hinted there could be developments in the player's situation soon.

"What happened with Martin is something that I don't know too well," Bettoni said.  

"I'm the assistant coach and there are some things that I don't follow too closely, so I can't give the exact context.  

"He is an important member of the squad and we'll see what happens with him in the coming days."  

Odegaard is not part of Madrid's squad for Saturday's LaLiga trip to Alaves amid speculation he could be confirmed at Arsenal imminently. 

The 22-year-old created 62 chances in LaLiga last term - a tally only beaten by four other players, one of which was predictably Barcelona talisman Lionel Messi.  

His contributions in terms of goals and assists helped La Real finish in sixth place. They also reached the Copa del Rey final, though that fixture against rivals Athletic Bilbao is yet to take place due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. 

 

The addition of Odegaard would add some welcome creativity to Mikel Arteta's squad, the Gunners having managed just 23 goals in 19 league games so far in what has been a topsy-turvy 2020-21 season.  

Arsenal have created 158 scoring opportunities, of which 33 are considered big chances by Opta, well adrift of the league-high 53 recorded by Manchester City this term. The Gunners have managed 20 goals from 221 attempts (excluding penalties), slightly below their xG figure of 23. 

Emile Smith Rowe has been a revelation of late, contributing three assists in open play, but no individual has created more chances for the Premier League club than full-back Kieran Tierney, his total of 22 putting him one above Bukayo Saka. 

Having been busy so far in January trimming the squad, including the impending departure of Mesut Ozil, Arteta has admitted he hopes to make additions before the transfer window closes. 

"We are in that process right now, we have done the first part more or less and we are focusing now on the second phase," he told the media on Thursday. 

"Obviously this market and the context makes it difficult, but we are looking at options and we will see what we can do."

Mesut Ozil's move to Fenerbahce is being delayed due to the "quarantine situation" in Turkey but Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta does not believe there is anything to be concerned about.

It became clear at the start of the month that Ozil was likely to depart Arsenal in the January transfer window, as links with Fener and Major League Soccer emerged.

Fener quickly became frontrunners, helped by the fact Ozil supported them as a child, and the German midfielder has done little to keep their discussions under wraps.

Ozil effectively confirmed the move on Sunday when speaking on Turkish television station NTV, and he arrived in Istanbul that night.

When the transfer is completed, it will bring to an end a seven-and-a-half-year spell at Arsenal, with Ozil having joined in 2013 from Real Madrid.

And while he lit up the Premier League during his earlier days, Ozil's impact has been limited since Arsene Wenger departed in 2018.

Addressing the delay of confirmation for Ozil's departure, Arteta told reporters on Thursday: "The quarantine situation is making that final step the longest ever.

"They have a lot of restrictions there [in Turkey]. Everything seems to be going OK, but I cannot say definitely what is going to happen. As soon as I can, we will mention."

Arteta's appointment at Arsenal appeared to present Ozil with a second chance to breathe life back into his career at the club, with the Spaniard suggesting he was going to build the team in a way that got the best out of him.

Ozil played 10 Premier League games between Arteta's appointment and the coronavirus pandemic bringing a halt to action in March, but he has not played since.

"He's a great footballer, a really talented player, but at the moment I want to take the team in a different direction," Arteta said. "Maybe he was part of some plans at the start, but he wasn't anymore by the end.

"For many different reasons [it has been difficult] – his history here, how things developed, how I think the team should evolve in the future and his position at the club.

"A player with such importance that is not playing, is not in the squad, is such a difficult situation to sustain for both parties. The player wants to play, we cannot give him the minutes and obviously that situation has to be resolved."

In his prime, Ozil was one of the Premier League's finest attacking midfielders and laid on a remarkable 19 assists in the 2015-16 season.

Although his influence waned since then, he was still Arsenal's most productive player in terms of chances created per 90 minutes (2.4) in the Premier League last season.

But their long association is set to end, with Ozil getting the move to Fener he has longed for.

Thomas Partey has an "aura" about him that helps make Arsenal better, according to manager Mikel Arteta.

Partey provided his first Premier League assist as Arsenal recorded a comfortable 3-0 win over Newcastle United on Monday.

Injuries have limited the midfielder to just eight appearances in all competitions since his arrival for a reported £45million (€50m) from Atletico Madrid in October.

Arteta was delighted with the Ghana international, who had two interceptions and two key passes before being substituted in the 67th minute against Newcastle.

"We've been missing Tommy. He has this freshness, this aura that makes him a special player for us," he told a news conference.

"Hopefully he can keep fit because we can see the difference he makes on the side.

"I think he was growing and getting better as the game was moving and evolving."

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored a brace and Bukayo Saka was also on the scoresheet and Arsenal kept five consecutive clean sheets in all competitions for the first time since February 2009.

Arteta was satisfied with his side's performance as they climbed up to 10th in the Premier League table.

"We always said that winning is the best thing for any collective team, for us as well," he said.

"To get three clean sheets in a row, that we're scoring goals and everything is more fluent. The energy and the cohesion, the spirit around the team is better.

"We have to keep that and there's a lot of things we need to do better and improve but I'm really pleased."

Arsenal are next in action on Saturday, facing either Southampton or Shrewsbury Town in the FA Cup.

Mikel Arteta believes Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang can build on his latest goals against Newcastle United after his brace led Arsenal to their 3-0 win on Monday.

Aubameyang scored in a fourth consecutive meeting with Newcastle in all competitions, adding to openers in both Premier League encounters last season and a winner in the FA Cup earlier in January.

The Arsenal captain broke the deadlock as he beat Karl Darlow at his near post shortly after half-time and then completed the scoring from Cedric Soares' cutback.

It was Aubameyang's first Arsenal double since last season's FA Cup final and should give the forward a lift, having failed to score with his prior 10 shots in the league before netting at Emirates Stadium.

"He tried even in the first half; I thought he had two or three really big chances and didn't score," manager Arteta told Sky Sports.

"He scored two today and I think it's going to be really good for his confidence. Obviously it's great for the team because he helped to win the match. Overall, I'm really pleased."

Arsenal were also boosted by Thomas Partey's return to the starting XI for the first time since December's derby defeat at Tottenham.

Partey completed 67 minutes and registered his first assist in English football for Aubameyang's opener.

"I'm really happy," Arteta said. "I think he got better and better as the game went on. He had a big influence. He gives us things that are different to any other player.

"Still, we have to protect him because he's missed a lot of football in the last few months, but I'm really happy with the performance."

The manager reserved special praise for Emile Smith Rowe and Bukayo Saka, who combined for Arsenal's second.

Smith Rowe forged four chances, more than any other player, and laid on the assist for Saka to sweep in on the hour mark, all but ending Newcastle's interest in the contest.

Smith Rowe, still just 20, has now either scored or assisted in seven of his 10 appearances for Arsenal in all competitions this season.

"When we are winning, they put a smile on my face," Arteta added of the pair. "I know what they are capable of doing.

"They are developing really well and that's merit to them, merit to their team-mates and to everybody that supports them and protects them as well. The performances that they are putting in are extraordinary.

"I think it is [a boost] for everybody, to have that mixture of energy, passion and a little bit of immaturity that, at times, is good, so you don't play as tense like the senior players. I think they've been doing really well."

Mikel Arteta is excited by the appointment of Richard Garlick as Arsenal's director of football operations.

Garlick is currently the Premier League's director of football and will join the Gunners later this year.

A sports law specialist, Garlick moved to his post with the league after spending eight years with West Brom and will oversee football operations alongside technical director Edu, academy manager Per Mertesacker and Arteta.

The move completes a reshuffle behind the scenes at Emirates Stadium following the departures of Huss Fahmy and Raul Sanllehi last October and August respectively.

"We needed someone with a lot of experience, who knows the job really well and has a lot of connections in English and international football," Arteta said.

"And as well someone who can bring some ideas and qualities to the business the way we want.

"I'm really excited, I met him. He's certainly the candidate we wanted. Now we have to respect the processes of the Premier League and we will see when we can get him.

"We had to replace Huss, he had a very important role with the first team and the academy. We've been looking for months and we all decided the best person for us was Richard."

On the field, Arteta will be without defenders Kieran Tierney and Pablo Mari due to calf injuries for Monday's game against Premier League strugglers Newcastle United, although Thomas Partey made a welcome return as a substitute during Thursday's 0-0 draw with Crystal Palace.

"He's made the right steps. He hasn't played much football during the past four months," Arteta said of the former Atletico Madrid midfielder, who has been laid low by a groin injury.

"He had an injury exactly in the same place as he had before when he got injured against Spurs.

"Now we have the reassurance that he can compete. He did it for 25, 30 minutes. He did it well, he didn't feel anything.

"So now we are going to be looking for the next step."

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta insisted there was "nothing concrete yet" regarding Mesut Ozil's reported move to Fenerbahce.

Ozil, who is out of contract at the end of the season, has been heavily linked with a move to the Turkish giants.

But Arteta said no deal was done yet for the playmaker, who last played for Arsenal in March.

"Well, I don't know how close he's been before," he told a news conference after Thursday's 0-0 draw with Crystal Palace.

"There are some conversations going on with [technical director] Edu and the club at the moment, but nothing concrete yet."

The 0-0 draw against Palace means Arsenal have failed to score in seven Premier League matches this season, as many as all of 2019-20.

Arteta accepted the draw was fair, with Arsenal sitting 11th in the table.

"I am disappointed because we wanted to win the game," he said.

"But I think a draw is a fair result because we lacked some freshness and some quality in the final third to win this match."

Arsenal are next in action on Monday, when they host Newcastle United.

Mikel Arteta could not guarantee Kieran Tierney would return for Arsenal's next match against Newcastle United after he missed the goalless draw with Crystal Palace.

Tierney has been one of the Gunners' outstanding performers in a tough season, creating more chances than any other Arsenal player in all competitions (28).

Muscle tightness meant he sat out at home to Palace on Thursday, with Ainsley Maitland-Niles asked to fill in at left-back and struggling.

The England international did not create a single chance, failed to find a team-mate with his only cross, and was replaced by Nicolas Pepe with 25 minutes remaining.

That substitution saw Bukayo Saka – another standout star this term – moved to left-back, yet he also underwhelmed, finishing with only two key passes.

After the stalemate, which ended a four-match winning run in all competitions, Arsenal did not shy away from the significance of Tierney's absence.

"He's a real threat," Arteta told Sky Sports. "In the way we're playing and the way we attack on that left-hand side, he's a really important player.

"We didn't have him, he's injured, and we have to find another solution."

Arsenal do not play again until Monday, but their manager added of Tierney's recovery: "I do not know [if he will be back].

"It depends how he evolves. He's going to have an MRI scan tomorrow and we'll see how he is."

Right-back Hector Bellerin was also quizzed on the impact of his team-mate missing the match.

"I think we do miss every single player when they're not on the pitch, but we also have great players coming back," he said.

"I think Ainsley did a great job again filling in, such a versatile player, but it's true that Kieran also was enjoying very good form.

"We did miss that probably on the left side, but we have very talented players in many areas that can come in. We're not a team that boils down to just one player.

"We need to find ways to be creative, to break down other teams, whatever the challenge they give us, and we need to keep improving on that."

Arsenal kept a first home Premier League clean sheet since July 1 but only after James Tomkins headed against the crossbar and Bernd Leno made a superb save from Christian Benteke.

The Gunners offered little going the other way, having only two shots before half-time and scarcely threatening Vicente Guaita's goal with any of their nine second-half efforts.

A disappointed Bellerin added: "We've been enjoying winning lately. We know that we're doing everything we can, we're working really hard, we're doing what the boss tells us to do.

"But sometimes football games are like this; we cannot win all of them.

"We are in part of a process, we feel like we understand each other on the pitch and the way that the coach wants us to play more and more, then sometimes it's down to the final shot or the final decision. Today we weren't as good in that situation."

Mikel Arteta is not ruling out David Luiz receiving a new deal at Arsenal and reminded those players on expiring contracts that they can earn an extension through their performances on the pitch. 

David Luiz made his return from a spell out with illness in Saturday's FA Cup third-round clash with Newcastle United, playing 120 minutes in what was just his third appearance since the start of December. 

The 33-year-old has also missed time due to a hamstring problem and a head injury this season, limiting him to 14 outings in all competitions. 

Among defenders to have made at least 40 Premier League appearances since the start of last season, David Luiz is among a group to have kept the fewest clean sheets (eight, along with Adam Webster, Lucas Digne and Yerry Mina). 

However, Arsenal have only conceded 47 goals while he has been on the pitch, with only Virgil van Dijk (44), Serge Aurier (42) and Kyle Walker (35) shipping fewer. 

David Luiz's contract at Emirates Stadium will expire at the end of the season but Arteta suggested he could yet play his way into an offer of fresh terms. 

"David had a really difficult season because he had three different things that have kept him away from training and games, which is unusual because he's normally he's always available," said Arteta. 

"He had to deal with that and then he had to play 120 minutes and I think he was exceptional, just the way he handled the game against a difficult number nine like Andy Carroll and to play for 120 minutes as well at his age with not much was a real test and I really like what he did. 

"He is fantastic. He's one of the leaders in the dressing room. He's one of the most experienced players and he's won everything in the game.

"He is so good with the young kids. When you look at people who can help and be a role model, he is always with them, he is always supporting them, giving them confidence and advice. It is great to have someone like him around.

"We will see what happens. There's a lot of things happening around the club. A lot of decisions to make. I don't want to rush any decisions. I just want players to be focused.

"They know they have six months left or eight months left, some of them a year, they know their contracts are like that and we can't change them right now. I think it's time to be focused.

"We've been through a difficult period in the last few weeks and I just want people to focus on football. If you do what you have to do on the football pitch you will deserve the chance to keep with us if this is what you want."

Shkodran Mustafi, Sokratis Papastathopoulos and Mesut Ozil are only contracted to Arsenal until the end of the season, while Dani Ceballos' loan deal will end at that point.

Alexandre Lacazette, Eddie Nketiah, Calum Chambers and Mohamed Elneny are on deals that run until June 2022.

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta lauded Thomas Partey and his impact as the star midfielder prepares to return for the Gunners.

Partey has been restricted to just six matches for Arsenal since arriving from LaLiga side Atletico Madrid in a £45million deal three months ago.

Only one of those appearances has come in the last two months, having aggravated a thigh injury in Arsenal's 2-0 loss to London rivals Tottenham in December.

However, Partey is back in contention for Thursday's Premier League clash with Crystal Palace and Arteta is excited to be able to call upon one of his key men once again.

"I think he's got a different presence - he brings something different to the team," Arteta said. "It's not just about his talent, it's not just about his physicality, it's who he is as a person. 

"He makes players better around him and that's a big, big quality.

"It's incredible that we are in January, we signed him in October and we have only played him [a handful of times]."

Partey has completed 2.6 dribbles per 90 minutes in his five Premier League outings and attempted 3.25 tackles per game, which no other Arsenal player can match.

And though the north London side have won only one of those five matches, compared to six victories in 12 league games without him, Arteta admitted Arsenal have missed the midfielder's presence.

"We haven't really seen the impact he could have on the team. Obviously we have missed him. I think it's going to be a big bonus if we can keep him fit," he said.

"When you are injured you feel first of all the responsibility when the club has made the effort we made to sign him.

"He was so willing for months to be joining us. He really wants to be a part of it and knows how much he can help. 

"Then he had to deal with the injuries, with the lockdown and moving into a new place, and that's been tough for him.

"That's why sometimes he was rushing and wanted to do everything straight away, because he's so willing to come back, he doesn't want to be alone at home. 

"He's in a really good place, he's settled really well in the dressing room, around the staff. He's a special character and hopefully we can see him on the pitch finally."

Arsenal are looking to sign a new goalkeeper in the transfer window, Mikel Arteta has confirmed.

Having sold Emiliano Martinez to Aston Villa in September in a reported £20million deal, the Gunners have gone through the season with Bernd Leno and Alex Runarsson, signed from Dijon last year, as their senior keepers.

Runarsson has made four appearances in the Europa League and just one in domestic competition, in the EFL Cup against Manchester City, when he made two mistakes in a 4-1 defeat at Emirates Stadium in December.

The Iceland international could be allowed to leave on loan this month as Arteta explores options to bolster the position, with third-choice Matt Macey having now joined Hibernian.

"We are assessing the situation with the three positions on the goalkeeping area and we will find a different solution, probably in this window," Arteta said on Monday.

"We are assessing what is going to happen with the three positions, the discussions we had in the summer within the club are a little bit different to what actually happened because of the transfer window and the situation that developed with Emi.

"We didn't have much time to do what we really wanted to do and we decided to assess the situation in this window, which is what we are trying to do and we will make a decision on how we want to move forward in those three positions."

Arteta is still waiting for news on the future of Mesut Ozil, who is expected to leave the Gunners this month, with Fenerbahce and MLS side DC United most heavily linked.

"My understanding is that nothing has changed from the last press conference," he said. "[Technical director] Edu and the club are having some conversations about the near future and the long-term future and when we know something, we will announce it.

"It's always difficult to handle this situation when you are left out of the squad. It's been difficult for everybody to have players who weren't in the squad – it wasn't only him – because you need them motivated, training well and being part of what we are trying to do and they don't feel like they can contribute to that. It's always tricky. We have tried to manage that in the best possible way."

Arteta, who was not willing to discuss rumours linking the club with Diego Costa and Emiliano Buendia, hopes to have Thomas Partey fully fit for Thursday's Premier League clash with Crystal Palace.

The Gunners boss is awaiting further updates on Gabriel Martinelli, who had a scan on an ankle problem on Monday.

"We don't know how bad he is," he said of the striker. "He's getting a scan this morning. We didn't look after the game [a 2-0 win over Newcastle United in the FA Cup] because he was in a lot of pain but yesterday he tested it a little bit better, so let's hope. We have a scan today so let's hope it's not as serious and we can have Gabi back really soon."

Gabriel Martinelli is set to for a scan on the ankle injury sustained prior to Arsenal's FA Cup win over Newcastle United, with boss Mikel Arteta describing himself as "gutted" by the forward's latest setback.

The Brazilian was a late withdrawal from Arsenal's starting XI for the third-round tie at Emirates Stadium on Saturday, which the Gunners won 2-0 after extra-time, and replaced by Reiss Nelson.

Martinelli has only recently returned from a serious knee injury sustained in June and Arteta said the teenager was in tears when providing an update on his condition after the match.

"I am gutted. I was in my office before the game and one of the coaches came in and told me that Gabi had hurt himself, that he'd twisted his ankle," Arteta said.

"I went to the medical room and he was in tears. He was in a lot of pain and we're going to have to see how he is. It didn't look good. He was in pain so I imagine that we're not going to have good news with him.

"We really want to know what's going on. He's a character and he wants to play the next game. He doesn't care and can handle pain but I don't know. Hopefully there is nothing too serious but to start with, it didn't look too good."

Emile Smith Rowe and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang were on target in the additional minutes but only after Bernd Leno had made a fine late stop from Andy Carroll to force extra time.

"We had to be patient," added Arteta, who has won all seven of the FA Cup ties he has overseen as Arsenal boss including last season's final triumph over Chelsea. 

"They are a team who are well-organised and make it hard for you. We had the chances I think, very big chances to score much earlier but when you don't do that, the game is open.

"If you don't do that in your box, you need your keeper in a key moment - like it happened after the corner kick on the counter - to save you.

"Bernd did it in a magnificent way and at the end we scored two and deserved to go through."

Emile Smith Rowe has the "huge potential" to match the exploits of young England stars Phil Foden and Jadon Sancho, according to Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta.

The Gunners begin their FA Cup defence at home to Newcastle United on Saturday, buoyed by a sharp upturn in their Premier League form.

A dominant 3-1 London derby win over Chelsea on Boxing Day sparked an ongoing three-match winning run.

Smith Rowe was handed a starting berth in that game and has kept his place after impressing in the number 10 role, with the 20-year-old giving Arteta's team an overdue shot of creative intent.

In 2017, Smith Rowe was part of the England squad that won the U17 World Cup, with Foden named player of the tournament.

Sancho featured during the group stages before being called back to club action by Borussia Dortmund, and Arteta acknowledged the duo are ahead of Smith Rowe in their development.

"He has huge potential. He really wants it and he has the personality when he goes on the field to express and play the way he can play," said Arteta, who coached Foden and - more briefly - Sancho at Manchester City as part of Pep Guardiola's backroom staff.

"To do it in a consistent way is a different thing. The boys that you mentioned, they've done it. It's true that they're ahead in their development phase because they've played many more minutes and games in the last two seasons.

"But he is capable of doing that. Whether he's going to do it will depend on how he continues to develop, how he takes the chance that he has in front of him and how much we can help him to achieve that."

Underwhelming loan stints at RB Leipzig and Huddersfield Town in the past two years preceded a pre-season shoulder injury, but a player dubbed "The Croydon De Bruyne" by some Arsenal fans has shown he is ready to make up for lost time.

"A lot of things have happened to him in the past year," Arteta acknowledged. "He needs to establish himself here, he needs to be successful here, he needs to really find his role and his position in the team and in the club.

"That will help him to have clear path. We really believe in him. He needs to have no fear and go for it, because he has the quality."

That quality has certainly been to the fore this season, with Smith Rowe's four assists coming at a rate of one every 93.5 minutes across seven appearances in all competitions.

With the youngster in the side, Arsenal average 2.9 goals per game. The 4-1 Europa League triumph over Rapid Vienna – in which he scored – was one of six victories Smith Rowe has been involved in this term, amounting to a win percentage of 85.7 per cent that plummets to 40 in the 20 games he spent as a spectator.

It feels infeasible that Arteta will leave him out of such a large proportion of games again but the former Emirates Stadium skipper pointed towards the examples of Bukayo Saka and Gabriel Martinelli, who completed an exciting attacking midfield trident alongside Smith Rowe against Chelsea and Brighton and Hove Albion, when discussing how younger players must have their workloads managed.

That could mean some stints playing in different positions, as Saka has during his fledgling Arsenal career, although Arteta cannot deny the much-needed lift his breakthrough stars have given Arsenal, even as he tries to manage expectations.

"Sometimes a team is a little bit concerned and has some fear because of the results, because of the pressure," he added, before noting the impact through "enthusiasm" the younger members of his squad have had.

"I think they were really helpful because they were re-energising to the team. They pushed the team into a different direction and a different rhythm as well.

"But, of course, the young players need that solidity, experience and maturity that the older players bring. It's a good combination."

Mikel Arteta knows how he wants to improve Arsenal's squad this month but warned the transfer market is "very complicated" in the current climate.

Julian Brandt is among the reported targets for the Gunners during the January window, although Borussia Dortmund sporting director Michael Zorc insisted there had been "no offers at all" for the midfielder.

Arsenal boss Arteta this week revealed Mesut Ozil could be on the move after DC United and Fenerbahce were linked with the out-of-favour playmaker.

The London club allowed Sead Kolasinac to return to Schalke, but there has been very little transfer activity just over a week since the window opened.

Arteta would like to do get his business done early in the window, but in a week that saw Arsenal take a short-term £120million Bank of England loan due to the impact of the coronavirus crisis, the Spaniard is being realistic with his expectations.

Asked about the prospect of making early signings, he said ahead of the FA Cup third round tie with Newcastle United on Saturday: "I don't know. At the moment the market is really complicated and the situation around every club is not easy.

"To get the negotiations going it's not easy, it makes it harder because you can't be face-to-face and you cannot travel to another country to make that happen, it has to be on the phone or Zoom.

"It can go either way. I can tell you what I would like, with the players out and in sorted, but I think it's really complicated."

Arteta says it is important to understand that players may want to move on due to the pandemic.

He added: "It's affecting everything. It's affecting things transfers financially, it's also affecting some players who are here and they are stuck here for a year and realise 'I need to go back home, I need my family to be happy, to be next to me'.

"It's a bit of a mixture, but players are experiencing different feelings that probably are new to them and that's why I keep insisting this virus is about mental health as well as how you are feeling physically. Mental health is a big, big thing that we have to pay more attention to."

One player who has arrived at Arsenal is 19-year-old defender Omar Rekik, who joins the under-23 squad from Hertha Berlin.

Mesut Ozil's Arsenal career looks set to end in the "next few days", with a decision on his future expected soon, according to Mikel Arteta.

Reports emerged this week claiming Ozil was in talks with MLS franchise DC United and Turkish side Fenerbahce, whom the former Real Madrid star is said to have supported as a child.

Ozil joined Arsenal from Los Blancos in 2013 and provided 54 assists in 184 Premier League appearances for the club – in the same period, only Kevin De Bruyne (74), David Silva (63) and Christian Eriksen (62) have created more goals than the German World Cup winner.

However, he has laid on just two since the start of 2019-20, as he fell out of favour again under Arteta despite the Spaniard initially appearing set on building the team around Ozil.

With his contract up at the end of the season, the 32-year-old is now able to negotiate a free transfer, though for any deal to go through this month, Arsenal will need to be involved in negotiations.

Reports in Turkey have claimed a deal with Fenerbahce has already been agreed, and while Arteta would not confirm whether this was the truth, he did state a decision is expected very soon.

"I don't know what's going to happen," Arteta told reporters on Thursday. "Now he's free to negotiate with other clubs, we will discuss internally the best situation for him, for the near future, with the player and the agent and try to find the best solution for everybody.

"Every player wants to play football, this is why we picked this profession. We are so lucky to be doing what we do, so for every player not playing, it is hard.

"We will decide what happens in the next few days."

Ozil's position at Arsenal has long been a source of contention, with some supporters adamant he should not have been excluded from the Premier League squad at the start of the season, while others have routinely urged him to leave for his own good but to also release the Gunners from the pressure of his substantial wages.

Arteta appeared optimistic about the situation, though did accept Ozil could yet stay for the time being.

"If something is sorted this month it's because it's good for both parties; good for Mesut and his future, and good for the club," he continued.

"If that's the case, we will move forward. If it's not the case, the player will remain here.

"He's been training with us, but he had some days [off] because we decided to give him some days for something personal, but he's been training with us all the time.

"We are aware of all the conversations with Mesut internally and his agent, and this communication keeps going. From now on he's free to talk to any club."

Mikel Arteta believes Kieran Tierney could go on to become Arsenal captain, with the former Celtic full-back having been in superb form lately.

Tierney has played in all but one of Arsenal's 17 league matches this season and opened his account for the campaign with a wonderful goal against West Brom on Saturday.

The 23-year-old cut inside from the left flank and curled a brilliant finish beyond Sam Johnstone to open the scoring, before then going on to tee up Alexandre Lacazette's second goal in a 4-0 rout of Sam Allardyce's woeful Baggies.

It was a third successive victory for Arsenal, who have turned their fortunes around after a seven-game winless streak in the top flight.

Since the start of December, no defender in the league has created more chances than Tierney (15), while Andy Robertson (29), Aaron Cresswell (25), Trent Alexander-Arnold (23) and Joao Cancelo (22) are the only defenders to have crafted more opportunities than the Scotland international's tally of 21 this term.

Tierney had experience of captaining Celtic prior to his move to Arsenal in 2019, and Arteta has seen plenty of leadership qualities in the left-back.

"I think he can be," Arteta told a news conference when asked if Tierney could go on to captain the Gunners.

"He has the respect and admiration of every member of the staff and every player. It's just the way he is, he does it in a natural way. He's a really shy boy as well but I think he represents all of the values we want to install and that are in the DNA of this football club.

"In both [attack and defence] he can do really well. He can still improve but he's been really good in attack and really solid defensively, so it's the kind of contribution we need from the full-backs.

"He's shy, so humble as well. He came here, it took him a while, he had a really bad injury and was away from home, but he's a natural leader.

"You see how he behaves on the pitch, and when he talks he says the right thing. It's exactly what we look for and I am so pleased to have him in the team."

While Tierney is starting to hit his stride in the Premier League, Arsenal have also been boosted by Lacazette's return to form.

After going almost three months without a league goal, Lacazette scored Arsenal's opener from the penalty spot in a 3-1 win over Chelsea on Boxing Day, before netting the winner against Brighton and Hove Albion and helping himself to a double at West Brom.

Lacazette is now on seven top-flight goals for 2020-21, with five coming away from home – his best such tally in the competition.

The former Lyon forward has netted half of the 12 big chances he has been presented with, which is a better conversion rate than the likes of Sadio Mane, Marcus Rashford and team-mate Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

Lacazette's contract is set to run out in 2022, and although Arteta has been delighted with the Frenchman's performances, any talks will be held off until the end of this season.

"We haven't talked about anything related to his contract," Arteta said.

"I'm delighted with the way he's performing, both that he's scoring and the form and energy that he's having at the moment, so he needs to keep doing that.

"We will talk in the summer and make a decision then."

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.