Mikel Arteta refused to be drawn on whether or not he’s engaged in new contract talks with Arsenal, but did say in his latest press conference that he misses the buzz of competing in the Champions League.
The 39-year-old is looking to guide the Gunners back to European football’s primary club competition after a five-year absence, and his side are well placed in the fight for a top four finish.
Arsenal currently trail fourth-placed Manchester United by four points, but do have three games in hand on their old adversaries and West Ham, who sit above them in fifth on goal difference.
Arteta’s in-form side are in action on Thursday night against Wolves, who also harbour aspirations of a top four finish, and their resurgence has fuelled speculation that a new contract offer may be forthcoming at the Emirates.
But, like he has done so before, Arteta batted away questions about a new deal when facing the press, and instead reiterated his pleasure at seeing how his side has evolved on the field.
“It is just that I am really happy here and my aim is to build with the club a winning team that when we watch it feels identifiable and that can transmit what we want football-wise and as an organisation,” Arteta said when asked if contract talks had taken place.
“I am happy with the direction we’re taking, but I’m not happy with where we are that is for sure because we want to be competing and challenging with the best teams in this league in consecutive seasons.
“We’re not there yet but I think the team is evolving in the right direction. The project and the phases that we proposed, they are happening and there are a lot positives but we are not there.”
He did go on to admit that he misses the buzz of competing in the Champions League, and highlighted the adrenaline rush gained from playing against the very best the continent has to offer.
“I do [miss it] a lot, because as a football player I’ve experienced it and it’s one the best feelings you can have,” the Spaniard admitted.
“To be surrounded by opponents that are the best in the world and challenge yourself and evaluate yourself against that type of opposition. Then as a club you play in a competition that brings the club that brings them into a different dimension, different stage, different impact and a competition that is very attached to the history of this football club.
He added: “I think for the club this is where we want to play. We want to be every year playing amongst the best teams. That’s what we want to do.”
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