Mikel Arteta admits Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang felt ‘down’ following his costly miss during Arsenal’s Europa League exit to Olympiakos and discussed the forward’s contract situation.
Aubameyang missed a glaring opportunity with the last kick of the club’s Europa League defeat to the Greek side last week, the Gunners’ captain firing wide from close range as Arteta’s side crashed out of European competition on a disappointing night at the Emirates.
Arteta admits the Gabon international felt ‘responsible’ for the club’s exit but insists his side have placed no blame on the 30-year-old following his performances this season – including scoring a stunning bicycle kick against Olympiakos to force extra-time last week.
“He was down. He felt responsible for what happened,” Arteta admitted at his pre-match press conference ahead of this weekend’s Premier League clash against West Ham.
“We all tried to convince him that even though he had the best chance of the game, he was the one who put us in that situation earlier. He’s done it [scored] on many occasions this season and last season.
“We need him happy, smiling and full of energy. That’s the way he’s looked for the last few days.”
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Aubameyang’s future in north London also remains a source of discussion with the club’s top scorer stalling on a new contract, the forward keen to play Champions League football following Arsenal’s absence from the competition in recent seasons.
Barcelona are reportedly interested in signing a player who will have just a year remaining on his deal this summer, and Arteta is keen to find a solution before the end of the season.
“We will have to do that at some stage before the end of the season for sure and we will see the intentions that we have. His intentions. Where we are sitting in that moment,” Arteta said.
“I think it is difficult to predict that context right now. For me it is very easy. I want to keep him under any circumstances.”