Arsenal v Fulham: Arteta previews London derby
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Mikel Arteta has suggested that Alexandre Lacazette is too important to be sold by Arsenal this summer, with the Spaniard claiming that he acts as the glue that holds the team together. The Frenchman has impressed in attack for the Gunners as of late, scoring five goals in his last six Premier League appearances, but has been linked with a move away from the Emirates Stadium at the end of the season.
He also played a starring role in Thursday’s Europa League quarter-final second-leg clash against Slavia Prague, chipping in with a brace as Arsenal cruised to a 4-0 win.
Lacazette is under contract until next summer but an extension is yet to be agreed, leaving his future in limbo.
Atletico Madrid and Juventus are just two of the clubs to have been linked with his services in recent weeks ahead of the summer transfer window.
If Arsenal fail to agree fresh terms with the 29-year-old before the end of the campaign, they will be faced with a dilemma over whether to cash in to avoid the possibility of losing him for nothing in a year’s time.
Speaking ahead of Sunday’s meeting with Premier League strugglers Fulham, Arteta revealed that he sees Lacazette as a crucial cog in the machine, suggesting that the Gunners boss would be eager to keep hold of the striker into next season and beyond.
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“[Lacazette is] key, because in big moments and in key matches you need players and senior players who have this experience to make a difference for you,” Arteta told reporters.
“For me in his style and his development, even though he’s 29, 30 years old, he’s on the right path because he’s ready to learn.
“He’s doing things in a much better way than before and he really glues the team together. That’s a quality that’s not easy in a striker and he’s got it.”
Lacazette made up for a number of missed first-leg opportunities with his performance on Thursday night, with his pair of vital contributions helping Arsenal to set up a high-stakes reunion with former boss Unai Emery when they face Villarreal over two legs in the Europa League semi-finals.
Arteta claimed that the former Lyon man’s return to form has served as a reflection of his character and willingness to keep fighting even when the going gets tough, as has been the case for the vast majority of the season.
The Gunners lie ninth in the Premier League table, ten points adrift of Champions League qualification with just seven matches remaining.
“It shows the personality that Laca is, that he missed two big chances in the home game and then you have to see that reaction,” added Arteta.
“That reaction could be with some fear, or some doubt or feeling a little bit guilty, and the other one is to have a strong personality and react and say: ‘OK, now I’m going to put them in the back of the net.’
“He’s done that consecutively in two games. He’s been really efficient and his momentum continues, the form that he’s in continues and he’s really important for the team.”
Lacazette claimed earlier this season that he was more than happy at Arsenal, stressing that rumours are just rumours and underlining his aim to help the club win trophies.
“I am really happy, it’s only the press that says I’m not happy,” he told the club website in September.
“From the beginning I’ve said I am happy at Arsenal and I want to play and win titles. We won a title last month so I am happy with Arsenal.”
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