Mikel Arteta is keen for Arsenal to tie its most promising youngsters to the club with renewed contracts, but accepts he is not in charge of such matters. Arsenal is going through something of a transition, with the club still rebuilding following the exit of long-time manager Arsene Wenger in 2018.
Wenger's replacement Unai Emery only lasted until November last year, leaving Arteta with a squad in relative limbo given it had been put together by different managers. But under Emery, some talented young players began to emerge, with Reiss Nelson, Joe Willock, Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Gabriel Martinelli and Bukayo Saka all showing signs of great potential.
Saka, 18, has made arguably the biggest impact on the first-team this season, making 10 Premier League starts and often impressing with his ability on the ball. The England youth international's contract expires in 2021, meaning Arsenal is running out of time to make its mind up about him, but Arteta is seemingly relaxed about the situation.
"I'm really happy how they [Arsenal's young players] are developing," Arteta told reporters on Friday ahead of Sunday's clash with Newcastle United. "Part of that development is to improve their contracts and tie them to the club. That has to follow a natural process."
"We have Edu [technical director], Raul [Sanllehi, head of football], Vinai [Venkatesham] and Huss [Fahmy, contract negotiator] who are in charge of that. We will do the right things when players deserve to improve and extend their contract."
With Arteta at the helm, Arsenal bolstered its defensive options in January, making Pablo Mari and Cedric Soares the new coach's first two signings. But there is still plenty of work to be done, with Arteta confirming the club is already working hard on end-of-season recruits.
"Absolutely, we have to plan," the Spaniard said. "We need to know the direction we want to have. To do that we need to bear in mind different scenarios.
"With that in mind, I have to tell the club what we need, where we think we can improve and where we want to aim. If we all aim for the same thing and we put a plan together to try to execute it and make the process as short as possible."
Neither of Arsenal's two new signings have made their debut yet and, although Mari is close to being in contention, Soares is not and neither will feature on Sunday.
Arteta added: "Pablo hasn't competed since the end of December. He had a little issue. He's been training with us the last week or so in and out a little bit. He's been looking good. I think this game will come a little bit too early for him, but I expect him to start joining the squad in the next week or so.
"[Cedric] is very disappointed. Obviously, when you join a new club you want to make an impression straight away. He had an issue in his knee. It's not completely healed yet. He hasn't been training with us. I expect him to be back with us in the coming weeks, but I can't give you a date."
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