LONDON (Reuters) – Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta says fans can be relaxed about captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s future at The Emirates Stadium and stressed the club are still actively looking to strengthen the squad in the current transfer window.
Aubameyang, 31, has less than a year left on his current deal and Arsenal risk losing him for free at the end of the season but British media have reported that the Gabon international has agreed a new three-year deal with the club.
“I can say I am even more confident than I was at the end of last season,” Arteta told a news conference on Friday. “Do I think it will be done soon? I am really optimistic, yes.”
The Gunners have signed former Chelsea forward Willian on a free transfer plus defender Gabriel Magalhaes from Lille but Arteta said there was still work to be done in the market as the squad balance at the club remains far from ideal.
The FA Cup winners are still trying to offload several first-team players with Matteo Guendouzi, Lucas Torreira, Mesut Ozil and Hector Bellerin all linked with a move away from the north London club by the local media.
“Number-wise, some positions are overbooked,” Arteta said. “Some others are in terms of the specific qualities we need, they are still not there.
“We are looking at different options, we are active in the market with players in and out. At the moment the squad balance is not ideal… there is still some work to do.”
Having began the new season by defeating Liverpool to lift the Community Shield, Arsenal kick off the season with a visit to newly-promoted Fulham in the Premier League on Saturday.
Arsenal’s last trip to Craven Cottage saw them cruise to a 5-1 victory under former manager Unai Emery, with the fans chanting “we’ve got our Arsenal back.”
But Arteta, who had his job title changed from head coach to manager on Thursday, warned that it was too early to compare the current squad with the great Arsenal teams of the past.
“I think it is premature,” the Spaniard said. “Depending on how old an Arsenal we are talking about, for example the Invincibles (of 2003-04).
“We were able to win two trophies, you know we changed quite a lot of things at the club, certainly things look brighter, in my opinion.”
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