Mikel Arteta is optimistic he can persuade Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to stay at Arsenal but he accepts the striker needs to feel the love from the club.
The Gabon international said earlier this week that he’s at a crossroads in his career and suggested the Gunners have more work to do if they are to reach an agreement.
Aubameyang moved to the Emirates in January 2018 and has since scored 61 goals in 97 appearances. His current deal ends in the summer of 2021 and he would then be in a position to walk away for free.
Conducting his pre-Man City press conference on Zoom the boss was quizzed repeatedly about the status of talks with his captain and his most recent comments.
“I think it is our responsibility to make him feel this is the right next step in his career,” said Arteta.
“In order to do that, he needs to feel valued, he needs to feel he belongs to us and we want him, and then he really needs to believe that we can take the club forward in the way we want to do, and he is going to be a key player to do that.
“At the moment I am extremely happy with how he has been performing and behaving, I have a really good relationship with him where we can discuss face to face a lot of things. As far as I am aware, he is very happy at the club.”
Arteta was also quick to point out that negotiating a new contract in the current circumstances had been difficult.
“I think in a different context we would have liked to do things much quicker but obviously we have been really tight with time and communication as well,” he said.
“These unprecedented times bring a lot of uncertainty and things are getting clearer and clearer every day, we are a step closer to get back playing football and moving forward.”
He added: “We’ve had many discussions with Pierre, his family and agent, and I’m pretty positive that we can find the right agreement for all parties.”
“We are trying, as a club, to finalise the deals that are more urgent and are a priority for us. The ones you are talking about [Bukayo and Auba] – they are both really important, not just for now but for the future of the club as well and if the club has something to announce, they will do it in the right moment.”
Arteta knows full well that Arsenal could make thing easier for themselves if they seal qualification for next season’s Champions League. Of course, the matter is out of our hands.
“I think that [finishing in the top four] will help to persuade anybody, but we are very lucky to have the club that we have right behind us.
“There are a lot of players who want to come and join us, but it’s not just about who do we want to attract, it’s about how happy the players are that are here and how convinced they are that they’re at the right place because it’s almost our obligation to be fighting for every trophy and playing in the Champions League with this club.”