Arsenal boss Arteta hoping Aubameyang does not follow Van Persie's exit
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang's future is up in the air and a matter of debate. Mikel Arteta knows what it feels like for Arsenal to lose their star striker.
Mikel Arteta feels Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is as vital to Arsenal as Robin van Persie was during his playing days in north London. Aubameyang became the fastest Arsenal player to 50 Premier League goals on Wednesday, passing the landmark on his 79th appearance in England's top flight as the Gunners thrashed relegation-haunted Norwich City 4-0.
Arteta hopeful Aubameyang will stay
After the match, Arteta claimed he was "very positive" that the 31-year-old would sign a contract extension at Emirates Stadium, with his current deal set to expire at the end of next season. Speaking at a news conference to preview the crunch weekend trip to Wolves, the Arsenal boss reiterated his stance.
"I don't know, it's the way I feel," he said. "The way I communicate with him, the conversations that I have with him, with the people around him. It's the energy that I sense. It's just my opinion. Things change very quickly in football but when you ask me what I feel about Auba's future in this moment, I feel that he wants to continue with us and keep developing and helping us to be a better team."
Arteta was pulling the strings in Arsenal's midfield when Van Persie was named PFA and Football Writers' Player of the Year in 2011-12, only for him to leave and inspire Manchester United to the Premier League title the following season.
"When we played with Robin he used to make the difference for us every week," Arteta recalled. "I always say that he was one of the strikers I most enjoyed playing with because of his intelligence and overall quality to play in any position, any area of the field. Also the quality of his finishing and movement. Now we have the luck of having another player who can do that in any moment of the game. We have to feed him and put him in the right position as much as possible to win as many [as possible]."
Arsenal need a win against Wolves
Failure to beat Wolves, who are six points ahead of the Gunners in sixth with six matches remaining this season, would effectively end Arsenal's top-four hopes. Arteta acknowledges progress on the field must be clear if Aubameyang is not to be tempted by admirers elsewhere.
"He needs to feel he belongs somewhere where we can achieve the goals that he has," he added. "He's really settled in the city, his family are really happy. And he's loved, respected and admired by his team-mates, which is a huge thing to have in any football club. That's what gives me positivity. As well, I see the enjoyment that happens, the work rate he puts in all the time. That's where my feelings are coming from."