Mikel Arteta has issued further clarification of Arsenal’s goalkeeper situation with a message to Bernd Leno, but denied reports he had chosen the goalkeeper to come back in for the north London derby.
Arteta is currently preparing Arsenal for an away match against Burnley, before a midweek EFL Cup tie with AFC Wimbledon and then the north London derby against Tottenham Hotspur. The upcoming games will give further insight into his pecking order in goal, which has been a key topic of conversation recently.
Leno has been with Arsenal since 2018 and by the end of his second season had seen off competition from Emiliano Martinez. Last season, he was relatively unchallenged, but there is now a new threat for his place. The Gunners signed Aaron Ramsdale from Sheffield United over the summer.
Ramsdale has already played twice for his new club and has kept clean sheets in both those appearances. And given that Arsenal forked out £25m to sign him, it is unlikely Leno will be the outright number one any more.
As such, there have been doubts about the German’s future. He is under contract until 2023, but some are predicting a premature exit for the former Bayer Leverkusen custodian.
Arteta, though, insists he has two useful options to choose from and that the situation is nothing unusual.
“It’s the same in every position,” he said. “We want them to make each other better. We are trying to bring players that can raise the level of the position, the level of the team the leave of the club.
“Bernd should be disappointed and he should support his teammates like they all have with him. That’s exactly what he’s done.”
As he hinted, Arteta went on to deny rumours that Leno had reacted badly to losing his place to Ramsdale in recent games.
“No that’s not true,” the manager said. “He was top with his teammates in training and everything. That’s not true.”
Something else Arteta denied was the rumour that he would reinstate Leno for the Tottenham game.
He replied: “I don’t know where they are coming from but they are ahead of me. I think I am the one who picks the team at the weekend.
“I haven’t made a decision on my team for Saturday or for the north London derby.”
With that in mind, the Spaniard also said he hadn’t given any assurances to Leno as to when he will come back into the team.
“No. That’s what I said to them and I said to the goalkeepers in the past two years,” he explained. “If we want to do is to empower performance and to get them to train and play in a certain way how can I guarantee them anything?”
Arteta sends message to Lacazette
At the opposite end of the pitch, another player facing an uncertain future is Alexandre Lacazette.
Arsenal reportedly tried to sell the French striker in the summer to avoid handing him a big new contract or losing him for free when his deal expires next summer. But ultimately, he remains at Arteta’s disposal.
Yet to start a game this season – although he has come on once each in the Premier League and EFL Cup, scoring in the latter – Lacazette’s long-term future is in serious doubt.
But Arteta denied he is building for a future without the former Lyon striker.
“No he’s fully involved,” Arteta said. “He will be back to the form that he can achieve. I’m sure that he will be instrumental in our success.”
Another player yet to start this season is Thomas Partey, who has just one sub appearance to his name.
The Ghanaian midfielder has struggled with some injury issues since his highly anticipated arrival at the club in 2020, but Arteta could be able to call on him for a longer stretch again soon.
Arteta confirmed: “He has been training this week. His load had to be managed because he was in early stages of the injury.
“He’s pushing everybody as he always does because he wants to be involved.”
Arsenal’s game against Burnley at Turf Moor is a 3pm kick-off on Saturday 18th September.