Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 29 September 2020

Mikel Arteta happy with Arsenal leadership group amid Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang exit rumour

Arteta says long-term commitment from team leaders is crucial

Arsenal's Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has been linked to a move to Real Madrid. Reuters
Arsenal's Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has been linked to a move to Real Madrid. Reuters

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta said he has no plans to change the team's leadership for now, but stated that it is important the captains are committed to the club.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has worn the armband for Arsenal since Granit Xhaka lost his captaincy in November following his outburst against supporters.

The forward, Hector Bellerin, Alexandre Lacazette and Mesut Ozil were part of the five-man leadership group under Unai Emery. Aubameyang has now been linked with a move to Real Madrid with just 18 months left on his contract.

However, manager Arteta said "I don't even think about that possibility" before discussing the importance of the armband.

He said: "The more stability we can generate with our captain and the players we have in the squad, I think the more clarity we will have to transmit to the fans what we are trying to do.

"There are many factors, some we cannot control, but at the moment everything is OK and not the time for me to change things in place because I haven't seen real things to make the decisions.

"I have been at clubs that have four or five captains. It is more a leadership group than captains. At the end it is one guy wearing the armband and after the team picks the leaders.

Arteta captained Arsenal during his five-year spell as a player at the Emirates and the FA Cup clash against Leeds on Monday brings back good memories for the Spaniard.

He first led the Gunners on January 9, 2012 when the Championship club made the trip to London in the third round of the competition.

It was the return of Thierry Henry and he scored the only goal in a 1-0 win. But Arteta, who had signed for Arsene Wenger the summer before, felt honoured to lead Arsenal that day before doing so on a regular basis during his final two seasons with the club.

"I didn't know," he was quoted as saying by Press Association. "I arrived and I had the armband next to my t-shirt. I asked Arsene 'boss, this is here, is it a mistake?' He said 'no, you are the captain' and I was like OK, good.

"It felt incredible. I wasn't here a long time and he put a lot of faith in me just when I arrived. I was very privileged and honoured."

Arteta is also eager to avoid cliques in the team. He added: "The leadership many times is related to how this team lives together.

"The moment you start to see different groups, they have leaders in this groups, but they are not shared in the best common interests of the group and this is what I wanted to avoid.

"We have some leaders, some are more leaders on the pitch and some more outside the pitch. Some have influence to players that is very necessary. We want to bring all together."

Updated: January 5, 2020 04:32 PM

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