Mikel Arteta admits he wasn’t sure at first if Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang would stay at Arsenal, but insists the striker is at a club as big as the likes of Barcelona.
Aubameyang signed a new three-year deal last week to end months of speculation over his future, with his previous contract due to expire next summer.
The 31-year-old has hit 72 goals in 111 appearances for the Gunners, including a brace in the 2-1 FA Cup final win over Chelsea last month.
Now the Arsenal captain has committed to the club for another three years despite rumoured late interest from the likes of Barcelona.
Arteta often had to bat away questions surrounding the status of contract talks with Aubameyang but became increasingly positive the Gabon striker would stay.
However, ahead of Saturday’s Premier League visit of West Ham, Arteta conceded he was not quite as sure of Aubameyang’s future when he was appointed as Unai Emery’s successor back in December.
“To be fair at the start when I joined, I wasn’t as positive as I was in the last few weeks,” he said.
“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.
“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.
“But the outcome is what we both wanted so we are happy.”
‘We have an incredible team’
Arteta then explained the process behind convincing Aubameyang to renew his contract.
While clubs in the Champions League were interested in the striker, Arteta insists that Arsenal are just as “incredible” as those that were competing for his signature.
“I think a big reason why Auba is staying is because we have an incredible football team,” he added.
“We have some fantastic people working here and he feels the love from the fans.
“I did my part, explaining to him what we are trying to do, explaining to him how important he is going to be, what we are building. That’s it.
“The club has to take credit for that and all the people who put together this package for him to stay.
“The size of our club is as big as those names. The most important thing is the football club. What we aspire to be, and what we can achieve in the future.
“We must make sure that our players believe in our project.”