Mikel Arteta reveals why Arsenal made major Granit Xhaka transfer u-turn

You mentioned that you feel people are trying to ‘bury’ you. Who are you talking about there?

I’m talking about the lack of clarity in the messages and using moments to try to come and using some very disrespectful ways to describe certain things. That’s what I’m saying. Nothing new.

Is there someone in particular you’re pointing at there?

No, it’s not about pointing, it’s about expressing the feelings that are so obvious in moments like this.

The Rwandan president (Paul Kagame) said Arsenal should not be accepting mediocrity after last week’s defeat to Brentford. Has he been in touch and do you agree with him?

I agree that Arsenal should not accept mediocrity. I totally agree with that.

Your players always raise their game against Chelsea. Do you feel they can do that again?

Well it’s a London derby. Again in front of our home fans after such a long time. So it’s a great opportunity. This is the games we want to play.

Having spent more money than Chelsea do you feel you’ve had a better window and do you think it’s shown the owner has given you the backing that he promised?

We are doing what we planned to do, what we tried to plan to do in the best possible way in the model that we have defined that can take the club to where it wants. We’ll continue to do that.

Do you think you’ve had a better window than Chelsea?

We’ve done what we have to do. I don’t know what they wanted to do it’s difficult to compare.

Mikel Arteta on the touchline during Arsenal's 2-0 defeat to Brentford.
Mikel Arteta on the touchline during Arsenal’s 2-0 defeat to Brentford.

When a team spends £129 million in the window where do you think they should be finishing in the table?

We have sold a lot players. We have six or seven players already who have left. It’s not about the spending it’s about a lot of sale as well that we have done. So it’s not just spending. It’s not as if we have got seven players and nobody has gone through the door. We have a lot of players out of the door as well.

These next two games are going to show how far away or how close you are to contending this season aren’t they?

Great games to play. We have to play everybody in the Premier League and we have two great games to play ahead and the cup game.

Coming up to the international break how important are these next two weeks to prove you can turn things around here?

It’s all the time we want to win the next match. After losing the only objective is to win the next match and that’s what our focus is going to be.

What’s the thinking in terms of the transfer strategy this summer and going for young players particularly?

That together with the senior players that we have we had to define a model together that can be sustainable short, medium and long term and we needed to address a lot of issues that we had in our squad balance. We are doing that by bringing quality players in different stages and different educations in their careers but they can fit perfectly with what we are trying to do.

We will continue to do that. Some they are coming from the Premier League already, some they are coming from abroad but with great education as well. I think you can see the level that they have and the margin for improvement and development that those players have at the club.

How close was Granit Xhaka to leave this summer and what’s the reason for the new contract?

We never wanted to let him go. We explained to him the role that he would have in the team, how important he was. Again how far he’s come in the last two seasons and the fact that he’s come through some difficult moments and the way he reacted and what he has achieved, not only with what he has done on the football field but the respect he has around the football club and the dressing room.

We believe that he was a really important figure. Players like that is what we need for all the young developing players in the team.

Granit Xhaka in action for Arsenal against Brentford on Friday night.

Do you wish that the fans who criticise him could see the impact he has behind the scenes?

It’s difficult because what happens inside you don’t get to see much. Sometimes you’re just analysing a performance or a way a player performs whether you like them more or less. From our side there is no doubt over the importance of him in the team and the squad.

Does the club have any additional COVID rules for the players to follow that are more strict than the government guidelines?

No we try to give them advice of where the risk could be. First of all we’ve already discussed about the vaccination that it takes a lot of element of risk away, even though we have players who are double vaccinated and they still got the virus. Obviously as well we want to protect their well fare and of course the well fare of everybody else.

After that we had some various cases that you cannot believe as well how you can pick this virus. It’s tricky because the world is open, we have families around we have people around and people can go outside. It is tricky to maintain a level of discipline while we’re here when outside everything is open.

The transfer window is in full swing and things are beginning to ramp up with Edu and Mikel Arteta’s dealings at the Emirates.

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We saw Martin Odegaard playing with Emile Smith Rowe last season but some fans are worried about the impact it could have on Smith Rowe’s development. How important is it to have two players in that position and what does it mean for Emile?

It’s the contrary. What we want is to have Emile in a better place to develop him and have alternatives in that position. They are players that can play perfectly together and we saw that last year.

We cannot rely on one player. We already lost a lot of creative players and we can’t just rely on one player and put all this on his shoulders. Emile has never played 50 games at that level yet in his career.

So for sure we will need to protect him and we need other players that can do that as well.

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