Arteta admits he feared Aubameyang would leave Arsenal

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta admitted that he initially feared star forward Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang would leave the Gunners before extending his stay.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored crucial goals in the semifinal and final as Arsenal clinched the FA Cup last season.   -  REUTERS

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta conceded on Friday that he was initially worried that the club would lose captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in the transfer window and the striker's decision to extend his stay was a welcome boost.

The 31-year-old Aubameyang signed a new three-year deal with the London club this week, a month after Arteta said he wanted to build his squad around the club captain following its FA Cup triumph and Europa League qualification.

“To be fair at the start, when I joined (in December), I wasn't as positive as I was in the last few weeks,” Arteta told reporters ahead of Saturday's Premier League game at home to West Ham United.

“Obviously, financially we were in a position that it was difficult to get where we wanted to get. I think Auba had his doubts as well at the time but things evolved in a natural way.

“It was a big boost because everyone was hoping for Auba to stay but it was creating some uncertainty around the place. Obviously it's great to finish that speculation, move on and find some more stability.”

Aubameyang signs new three-year deal with Arsenal  

Tying down the Gabon international, who had less than a year left on his contract, was a major coup for Arsenal with other top European clubs such as Barcelona and AC Milan reported to have registered an interest in him.

“I had the feeling that the club wanted to move forward, I had the feeling that Auba wanted to stay here and we were just trying to apply those things together and that sometimes takes time,” Arteta added. “The size of our club is as big as those names. That is what I'm saying.

“The most important thing is the club, what we inspire, who we are as a club and what we can achieve in the future as well, and how we can explain what we are trying to do so the players believe in our project.”

Arsenal started its Premier League campaign with a 3-0 victory at newly-promoted Fulham.

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