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Mikel Arteta says Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang turned down Barcelona for 'incredible' Arsenal

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Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang lifts the FA Cup following Arsenal's 2-1 over Chelsea at Wembley
Image: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has scored 72 goals in 111 games for Arsenal in total

Mikel Arteta says Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang decided to extend his contact at the Emirates because Arsenal are an "incredible" football team and he turned down Barcelona because the Gunners are "as big" as them.

Barcelona made a concrete offer to sign Aubameyang, who also attracted interest from Inter Milan, before Arsenal confirmed their captain had signed a new three-year deal after months of speculation over his future.

The 31-year-old helped Arsenal win the FA Cup final last season and the Community Shield at the start of 2020/21 - scoring in both games - and got his team off to the perfect start on Saturday, netting in the opening Premier League win over Fulham.

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"I think a big reason why Auba is staying is because we have an incredible football team," Arteta said, who played a big part in his decision to stay. "We have some fantastic people working here and he feels the love from the fans.

"I did my part, explaining to him what we are trying to do, explaining to him how important he is going to be, what we are building. That's it. The club has to take credit for that and all the people who put together this package for him to stay."

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Sky Sports News reporter Dharmesh Sheth reveals Barcelona and Inter Milan made offers to sign Aubameyang this summer

Quizzed on interest from Barca and Inter, Arteta added: "The size of our club is as big as those names. The most important thing is the football club. What we inspire to be, and what we can achieve in the future.

"We must make sure that our players believe in our project."

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Meanwhile, Arsenal are close to signing Dijon goalkeeper Runar Alex Runarsson after Emiliano Martinez left for Aston Villa.

They have also been linked with Brentford 'keeper David Raya, but the Sky Bet Championship side would want him back on a season-loan deal for the remainder of the 2020/21 campaign.

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"We are trying all the time to adjust the squad in the most efficient ways," Arteta said. "It has to go both ways [ins and outs] and in order to achieve that we still have some time.

"With the departure of Emiliano Martinez, we have to replace him, and we are looking in the market. You never know in football. The hours can become days. Something unlucky can happen, so I cannot say."

The Arsenal boss, whose side host West Ham on Saturday night - live on Sky Sports Premier League - was also asked for his thoughts on Gareth Bale, who is expected to join north London rivals Tottenham.

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"The Premier League has historically always had the best players in the world," Arteta added. "I think Gareth has been one of the most significant names that left the Premier League years ago to go to Spain.

"It's always very positive to bring important players back to the league. It will be a challenge, because we know what he can deliver at his best."

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