The Gunners boss insists the club can land their top targets this summer even without the lure of European football
Mikel Arteta is adamant that the world’s top players will still want to play for Arsenal even if they don’t qualify for Europe next season.
Sunday’s north London derby defeat at Spurs has left the Gunners on the verge of missing out on European football next season for the first time in 25 years.
Arteta’s side now sit four points below seventh-placed Sheffield United with only nine points left up for grabs, and with Liverpool to come on Wednesday night, Arsenal’s hopes of qualifying for Europe via the Premier League could be over before the weekend if they lose to the champions and the Blades win at Leicester 24 hours later.
It has led to concerns from fans that the club will not be able to land their top targets – such as Atletico Madrid midfielder Thomas Partey – in the transfer window, but Arteta insists that is not the case.
“Yes,” he said, when asked if Arsenal would still be able to attract top players. “Because we’ve an incredible history, an incredible structure, in a beautiful city and a style of play that attracts players. I’m telling you now because when I am closer to the market now when I speak to people, a lot of players want to play for Arsenal.”
Next season will be Arsenal’s fourth without Champions League football and financially their absence from Europe’s elite club competition is taking a heavy toll.
Arteta says he still views Arsenal as a Champions League club and that he is ‘not expecting’ players to be sold this summer if they miss out on Europe, although he added: “In football everything is possible.”
The Gunners host Liverpool on Wednesday night before taking on Manchester City in the FA Cup semi-final on Saturday. They then complete their campaign with games against Aston Villa and Watford next week.
Arteta says his only focus right now is doing what he can with the players he has available to ensure his side finishes the season as well as possible. Only then will his focus switch to the transfer window.
“What I need to do first of all is do my work as good as possible, improve this team and the players individually as much as possible and get the maximum out of that,” said the Spaniard.
“Then what we need to do at the end of the season is see the direction we want to take, agree on the ambition of the football club and realise that where we are the demands are going to be huge.
“It doesn’t matter what we do, that’s never going to be change because it’s linked to our history and our success, and move from there.”