Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang: Mikel Arteta 'positive' Arsenal can reach agreement over striker's future

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Arsenal head coach Mikel Arteta says the club need to make Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang feel valued if they are to convince him to stay.

Mikel Arteta is "pretty positive" Arsenal can reach an agreement with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to secure his long-term future at the club.

Aubameyang's deal expires next summer and he was quoted this week saying he felt at "a turning point" in his career.

"We have many discussions with Pierre, with his family and his agent. I'm pretty positive we can find the right agreement for all parties," Arteta said.

"It is our responsibility to make him feel this is the right next step in his career.

"In order to do that he needs to feel valued. He needs to feel like he belongs to us and we want him. He really needs to believe we can take this club forward in the way we want to do and he's going to be a key player to do that.

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"I'm extremely happy with how he's performing and behaving. I have a really good relationship with him and we can discuss face to face a lot of things and I think he's very happy at the club.

"We would have liked to do things much quicker but our hands have been tied with time and communication. These unprecedented times bring a lot of uncertainty."

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Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang
Image: The 31-year-old's Arsenal contract expires in the summer of 2021

Aubameyang has scored 61 goals in 97 appearances since joining Arsenal in 2018, leading to reported interest from top European clubs.

Arteta says has seen no suggestion that his head has been turned despite his comments about a "turning point" in his career.

"I think at the moment I am extremely happy with how he's been performing and behaving," he said.

"I have a really good relationship with him and we can discuss face to face a lot of things. So far as I'm aware I think he's very happy at the club."

Arteta suggested the coronavirus shutdown had played at least some part in the slow progress of negotiations, adding: "In a different context we'd have liked to do things much quicker but obviously it is unprecedented times.

"That brings a lot of uncertainty. But things are getting clearer and clearer every day that we are a step closer to getting back playing football and we want to move forward."

'Arsenal also working on Saka deal'

Bukayo Saka is out of contract at Arsenal next summer
Image: Saka has 12 months remaining on his current Arsenal contract

"We are trying, as a club, to finalise the deals that are more urgent and are a priority for us," Arteta continued.

"The ones you are talking about [Bukayo Saka and Aubameyang] - 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."

'Players comfortable with low-risk environment'

Arteta says his players are physically and mentally prepared ahead of their games against Manchester City, with his squad comfortable now with the Premier League's safety protocols ahead of Wednesday's fixture.

"I think we have found the right balance, and the most important thing was to provide the players with a safe environment to work where they could feel where there was no risk, or a very, very limited risk, to develop their profession," he said.

"I think we have managed to do that and from now on, the physical part is really good and the mental side as well has been a challenge over those three months. Now let's see how ready we are to compete."

How did the virtual news conference go?

Sky Sports News reporter Paul Gilmour "attended" Mikel Arteta's news conference this afternoon:

"There was much to admire about the 'new normal' for Premier League press conferences, mainly because it eliminated the M25 journey, but it wasn't without its teething problems.

"The club settings automatically switched off the mic and video meaning there was a scramble to fill the awkward silences, something Mikel Arteta found increasingly amusing.

"Arteta himself played the role of comedian at a family Zoom quiz, appearing with a virtual background. At times it threatened to overwhelm him depending on how much head movement there was but generally it held up and gave the sponsors that much needed exposure.

"'I cannot see anybody but I hope you're all well. I miss you a lot,' the Spaniard announced. By next week he'll be able to see us as we strive for a personal best time in switching on the video.

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"We have missed him too as we were reminded of the calm, measured and impressive operator he is in front of the camera across a range of subjects. 'It is our responsibility to make him feel this is the right next step,' Arteta said, thankfully referring to Aubameyang's future and not the future of the virtual press conference.

"Thanks to the Arsenal media team for adapting so well but let's hope it's a temporary measure. You can't beat seeing managers and colleagues in person, not to mention the sound and picture quality is a world away from our output on Sky Sports News. Like a Zoom quiz during lockdown, the novelty will soon wear off!

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