Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta is convinced Saturday’s FA Cup final will not be Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s final game for the Gunners.
The Gunners skipper – who has just one year left of his contract – goes into the Wembley showpiece with speculation raging about his future.
Inter and Barcelona are believed to be keeping close tabs on his situation, with many believing Arsenal will be forced to sell their top scorer if they lose to Chelsea on Saturday and fail to qualify for Europe for the first time in 25 years.
Speaking ahead of the cup final, however, Arteta – who has always maintained his belief that the striker will decide to extend his contract – insists he is not thinking about the possibility of Saturday being Aubameyang’s final appearance in an Arsenal shirt.
‘No, I don’t have those thoughts,’ said the Spaniard – who also raised the possibility of the 31-year-old staying put even if he doesn’t put pen to paper on a new deal.
‘Don’t forget he still has a contract here with us. We want to keep him and do it more long-term. But at the moment he is with us and I think he should be really proud of where he is as well.’
Arteta knows exactly what it’s like to lift the FA Cup for Arsenal, having won it twice during his days as a player in north London, in 2014 and 2015.
Aubameyang now has the chance to follow suit this weekend and Arteta believes the experience of winning the cup as skipper could further convince the former Dortmund star to extend his stay in north London.
‘Absolutely. I think that has a strong link with everything that you want to experience as a player,’ said Arsenal’s head coach.
‘Winning a trophy helps to really believe and make you feel ‘wow, I want more of those moments as well’.
‘If you are wearing the armband and you are able to lift that cup, it is such a moment and this is going to help for sure.’
Arsenal go into Saturday’s final as underdogs, just as they were when they met Chelsea at Wembley in 2017.
They finished 10 points behind their west London rivals in the Premier League and know that beating the Blues is their only route back into the Europa League next season.
For Arteta, Saturday’s final provides him with an opportunity to win a trophy in his first season in charge at the Emirates and he is well aware of the lift a piece silverware would give to the club after what has been a difficult couple of years.
‘It would be absolutely great,’ he said. ‘We’ve worked so hard since I joined here to try to bring this club back to winning titles, so if we can achieve that I will be delighted.
‘But not for myself – for the players and the club. They’ve been through some very difficult moments in the last few seasons and as well for our fans, because they really deserve some joy and nice moments.’
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