Arsenal remains attractive destination for world-class footballers, believes manager Mikel Arteta
Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta on Wednesday refused to discuss individual players' transfers, such as Dusan Vlahovic, but believes top players want to come to Emirates.
Amidst rumours of Arsenal eyeing Fiorentina striker Dusan Vlahovic, Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta on Wednesday remained tight-lipped about transfer discussions but said that the club's ability to attract the best players world over is one of their biggest powers and also works as a huge advantage for them.
The North London team, who have not made it to the Champions League since 2016, have not signed any player this month but are reportedly interested in a deal with Vlahovic. One may recall, Vlahovic had a successful 2021 where he equalised Cristiano Ronaldo's record (33 goals) for most Serie A goals scored in a calendar year. However, the striker is understood to prefer a move to a Champions League team.
Regardless, Arsenal manager Arteta insists that his team, who are currently fourth in the Premier League, still have the power to attract world-class talent. Speaking to the media ahead of Arsenals' away clash against Liverpool in the EFL Carabao Cup semi-final first leg on Thursday, Arteta asserted, "Historically, this club has been targeting the best players in the world, and the best players in the world were always interested in coming here."
"I consider that situation hasn't changed. That is one of our biggest powers. Every time I have spoken to any player, they were so willing to come, I have not faced any other situation." the Spaniard said.
"Our capacity to get the attention of people to come to our club is something that is a big advantage for us," the Arsenal manager added.
There was no surprise that Vlahovic was the topic of interest at Wednesday's press brief; however, Arteta gave very little away on the potential deal. "I'm sorry to disappoint you, but you know I'm not going to be discussing any transfer rumours," the Arsenal boss stated.
However, Arteta left no stones unturned in revealing the future of striker Eddie Nketiah, who has attracted interest from clubs like Crystal Palace, Bayer Leverkusen, and Newcastle.
"The situation is that Eddie is our player, and he is going to stay here with us," Arteta confirmed, adding, "He is our player, and he is under contract, so he will stay with us."
According to reports, defender Sead Kolasinac is a target for Marseille, and negotiations are underway for Udinese to take Pablo Marí on loan for the rest of the season. Meanwhile, Folarin Balogun has joined Middlesbrough on loan.
Talking about the importance of the EFL Carabao Cup semi-final clash against Liverpool and the upcoming Premier League clash against Tottenham Hotspur, Arteta said that his side is well aware of the impact these matches will have on the season. "Losing to Nottingham Forest was a big lesson for us," he said.
On Thursday night, Arsenal visits Anfield in their EFL Carabao Cup semi-final first leg. The game was originally the second half of the tie, but last week's first leg at the Emirates was postponed to January 20 after an apparent spike in COVID-19 cases in Liverpool's camp. Jurgen Klopp later revealed that "a lot of false positives" had led to the switch, and his Arsenal counterpart did not want to publicly question the German's decision.
"It's something that is not in our control. The EFL is responsible for checking every single player's status and then making the decision whether the game is played or not. The decision was to postpone the match, and I'm sure if that was the case, then they had the right arguments for doing so," Arteta said.
Arsenal, who suffered a major upset against Nottingham Forest in the FA Cup third round on Sunday, have been facing COVID-19 issues of their own and hope that Granit Xhakha can return to the squad after a bout of the virus. "After having COVID, some are struggling, and some are fine. Whenever we have the option to train Granit with the team, we will do that. I don't know where he'll be physically, but I know where he'll be mental. He is going to be fully committed the next minute he has the clearance," Arteta stated.
Young sensation Emile Smith Rowe and defender Takehiro Tomiyasu too missed the Forest game with injuries, and four players are away at the Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon. When asked about players' availability, Arteta said, "It is extremely volatile and uncertain. I don't know what the situation is that we will have today or if it is different to yesterday."
"Obviously, I cannot get into any detail with that. In the last week or so, we lost so many players for many different reasons, and we are trying to adapt to that. I will use the players that we have and make the most out of it," the Arsenal boss concluded.