Mikel Arteta says Mohamed Elneny, Alexandre Lacazette and Eddie Nketiah’s futures have been decided by Arsenal – with one of that trio appearing to sign a new contract after Sunday’s final match of the season.
All three players are about to enter the final month of their contracts at the Emirates and talks over renewals have been taking place for some time, though there was initially a feeling that they would depart.
But Elneny and Nketiah have been in strong form in recent games which has led to Arsenal supporters calling for extensions to their contracts, and Arteta has previously hinted that he wanted to keep them at the club.
He may have got his wish, with eagle-eyed journalists spotting Elneny taking pictures with the club’s photographer after Sunday’s 5-1 win over Everton and appeared to be posing with – and signing – several documents.
Speaking after Arsenal’s win – which was not enough to finish fourth as Spurs ran riot against Norwich – Arteta did not confirm the situation regarding the three players but said the trio’s next steps would be announced soon.
Suggesting some of the players would have different fates, Arteta explained: ‘I will speak to the three players now or tomorrow and after that we will need to move on. But we have clear ideas of what we want to do.’
He continued: ‘It’s been decided but it’s very difficult to communicate it.
‘What they deserve is to have a little bit of what they had today, but to do it earlier one way or the other with three situations like that is very, very awkward and it could affect the team.
‘So as a club we have to do the right thing, in the right moment and sometimes to have those two things combine is not easy at all. But we will try to do the right thing.’
Nketiah has enjoyed an excellent end to the season, netting again against Everton, but Arsenal’s pursuit of a new forward could see him bumped down the pecking order once again.
The forward is reportedly still leaning towards leaving the Emirates and being a guaranteed starter elsewhere, though Arteta appears keen to keep him given how well he performs on the pitch and in training.
He said: ‘When you see Eddie training the way he trains, he doesn’t even need to play, you know you have a player there that is going to help you.
‘And he’s done that, you look at his numbers with the amount of games he’s played and it’s terrific.’
This season, Arsenal have struggled to cover the likes of Thomas Partey and Kieran Tierney who have suffered with injuries.
After finishing fifth, the north London side have qualified for the Europa League next season and will need more options to cover the extra games.
Arteta has been linked with moves for Manchester City’s Gabriel Jesus as he looks for a top striker to lead the line, but the potential loss of both Nketiah and Lacazette would mean the Spaniard will need to sign two new centre-forwards.