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Mikel Arteta comments on Martin Odegaard links and Arsenal plans for this window

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Mikel Arteta faced the media ahead of Arsenal’s FA Cup fourth round match at Southampton this weekend and discussed various topics as the Gunners prepare for the next leg of their trophy defense.

Arsenal have been linked with a number of players during this transfer window, having already transferred Mesut Ozil, Sead Kolasinac and Sokratis Papastathopoulos. So perhaps understandable, the next trip to St Mary’s took a step back at this latest press conference.

Here are some of the key points from what Arteta had to say.

Mesut Ozil's move to Fenerbahçe is near but an official announcement remains to be made
Mesut Ozil’s move to Fenerbahce is near but an official announcement remains to be made | Pool / Getty Images

A number of damaging stories on behind-the-scenes topics have leaked to the press this season, making Arteta’s job even more difficult. Considering his troubles with the club lately, you could be forgiven for thinking that Mesut Ozil is one of the prime suspects.

With his transfer to Fenerbahce almost over, the Arsenal boss was asked if he had found the mole and he said: “I have sort of an idea, yes.”

He was further pressed to know if he had identified any of the starting lines as the culprits and replied: “No comment on this.”

Kieran Tierney is currently Arsenal's only naturally left full-back option
Kieran Tierney is currently Arsenal’s only naturally left full-back option | Visionhaus / Getty Images

“This option is open. We will look to see what is available. ”

Arteta was honest that Kolasinac’s return to Schalke on loan for the remainder of the season had left the Gunners “a bit short with a right-back left foot for now”.

He did, however, make it clear that he believed Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Bukayo Saka and Cedric Soares were all capable of replacing if needed.

Folarin Balogun's Arsenal contract will expire at the end of the current season
Folarin Balogun’s Arsenal contract will expire at the end of the current season | Charles McQuillan / Getty Images

With the 19-year-old still not committed to his future at the club beyond the end of this season, the boss was asked if it had anything to do with his not getting involved recently.

Arteta denied that this was the case, saying: “[He has not been involved] because [of] the competition we have in [the] front positions. And because there are other players who haven’t had a lot of minutes and who have played in the FA Cup.

“That takes time. We must respect this path. Eddie [Nketiah] he doesn’t play much lately either, and he’s in front of him right now. We must therefore be calm and respectful. “

FBL-ESP-LIGA-REAL MADRID-CELTA VIGO
Martin Odegaard told Real Madrid he would like to be loaned out to play regular football | OSCAR DEL POZO / Getty Images

It was recently reported that Arsenal were one of several clubs interested in signing the Norwegian’s loan, but Arteta remained coy and declined to comment on speculation regarding the 22-year-old.

He said: “Sorry but I cannot comment on the players who play for different clubs.”

Emile Smith Rowe has impressed in the Emirates, contributing three assists in just five Premier League appearances so far
Emile Smith Rowe has impressed at the Emirates, contributing three assists in just five Premier League appearances so far | Visionhaus / Getty Images

After making a very good impression with Arsenal loyalists lately, you can see why the club may be looking to offer 20-year-old Smith Rowe an improved contract. Although it has been widely reported that negotiations are underway, once again the Spaniard has given in little.

“Let’s take it step by step. Emile has done really well. He deserves his chance. He takes it and grabs it with both hands in a really convincing way. So let him do it, things will come naturally. ”

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