Mikel Arteta admits Arsenal took a risk by delaying contract talks with Alexandre Lacazette until the summer, with the captain now revealing he has opened talks with other clubs.
Lacazette’s contract expires at the end of the current season and it appears the 30-year-old will leave the Emirates Stadium.
Speaking to Canal Plus earlier in the week, Lacazette said he was “in talks with many clubs”, adding that he “missed” playing in the Champions League and had “never cut off contact” with Lyon, whom he left behind. for he joined Arsenal five years ago.
The comments couldn’t come at a worse time for the Gunners, who face London rival Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday night with their hopes of finishing in the top four of the Premier League adrift.
Arsenal have now lost their last three games, to Crystal Palace, Brighton and Southampton, and sit in sixth place before their brief jump through the capital.
Asked if Lacazette’s comments took him by surprise, Arteta responded: “Well, he doesn’t need to tell me what he does in his own life, but he has, we have discussed it and he has the right to do so, so he has a duty.” do the best you can here.
“His contractual situation allows him to make the decision about his future. We have clearly stated what our intention is: to talk in the summer once we know where we are, about what we are going to do together in the future.
“And for the rest, I just want him totally focused on his duty, which is now to defend Arsenal in the best possible way, as he has done the entire time he has been with us. That’s why he wears the armband of this football club, that’s a big reason.
“Contracts begin and end with the expiration date that you have agreed to on the day you put down the pen.
“So you have to deal with the consequences of that and that is the reality of the contract that he has, and the commitment and the duty that he has to the football club.”
Lacazette is unlikely to feature at Chelsea after testing positive for coronavirus and Arteta admits Arsenal may also have missed the boat trying to keep the French striker at the club.
“It is the agreement that we made with him, that was our position and our position remains the same, that is what we are going to do,” he said.
“The risk of that happening, it was always there from the moment we made that decision, so it’s up to him. It’s not up to us or him, it’s up to both parties.”
Arteta did not address the reasons why the club wanted to postpone talks until the summer, but admitted that whether or not Arsenal qualify for the Champions League will have an impact on what they do in the transfer market.
🚨 Alex Lacazette misses today’s call after testing positive for Covid.- Arsenal (@Arsenal) April 16, 2022
“The Champions League brings the club much closer to where we want to be and to be able to play in a competition that has a huge history in relation to our club,” he added.
“Secondly, it obviously improves every situation with the sponsor, financially, the expectations, the ability to grow our players and expose them to a different dimension of a competition and this is where we want to be.
“It’s a game changer. The Champions League pushes you there with the best teams in Europe and we definitely want to be there.”
With Lacazette in doubt, Eddie Nketiah could once again lead the line.
The England Under-21 international is also out of contract at the end of the season and has turned down the opportunity to sign new terms.
Nketiah also spoke on Tuesday about his lack of first-team opportunities, but Arteta was pleased to see the comments.
“He’s right to be upset, that’s what we want from players who haven’t had minutes,” he said.
“Especially Eddie, because if there is a player in that locker room that deserves more opportunities, it is without a doubt Eddie.
“It’s not about putting pressure on him to play him, it’s about putting a team there that can win football games and you think they have the best possible chance of winning it.
“So, just pick the players regardless of the situation. We could have taken a completely different approach and played him even less, or given him no chance and not put him in the team.”