Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta wants to take a step closer to the likes of Manchester City and Liverpool this summer with some astute signings in the transfer window.
The Gunners are on course to qualify for the Champions League for the first time in six years. Victory against Tottenham in Thursday’s North London derby would confirm fourth in the Premier League. They are four points clear of Spurs in fifth with three games to go.
Champions League qualification would help Arsenal attract top players to the Emirates. Owner Stan Kroenke is expected to pump more money into the club in the upcoming transfer window after Arteta spent more than £140million on new signings last summer.
“We expect that every team is going to reinforce and get better every single year,” said Arteta on Wednesday after being asked about Erling Haaland’s transfer to City. “That’s been the case in the last three or four years in particular.
“You can see the standard and the level of the top teams in the league, which is unprecedented in Premier League history and that’s the level. It’s only going to get more and more difficult. All the planning we have to do is to try to get to that level.”
Arsenal are interested in signing Gabriel Jesus from City following the news of Haaland’s move. “We had talks with Arsenal about Gabriel Jesus, we like the project – it’s a possibility we’re discussing,” said Gabriel’s agent Marcelo Pettinati. “There are six more clubs interested in Gabriel – he’s focused on final games with Man City, we’ll see.”
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When asked about Jesus, Arteta simply said: “You know that I don’t talk about any players that are not with us.”
The Arsenal boss was also reluctant to say whether he will try to sign a striker this summer. The Gunners have just two senior centre-forwards on their books – Eddie Nketiah and Alexandre Lacazette – and they are both out of contract at the end of next month.
“I am looking for the strikers that we have in the team, and this is my focus,” Arteta said. “We have three games to go and that’s the only thing I am focussing on.”
Arsenal could be without four key players for their crucial game against Tottenham. Thomas Partey (thigh) and Kieran Tierney (knee) will definitely miss the fixture through injury, while Benjamin White (hamstring) and Bukayo Saka (knock) are doubts.
“Ben he is still a doubt, we have to assess him and see how he is feeling, which is much better,” said Arteta. “With Bukayo it’s the same. It’s very difficult to rate with injuries, it’s just how they feel today, that’s the last day that we can assess them and try to get the feeling, basically.”
On Thursday’s game, Arteta added: “The message is clear, if we win against them we are in the Champions League next season. You don’t need any motivation or to tell them anything more than that. The opportunity is there, we are going to play and go for it like we always do It’s how we have got into this position, and it’s how we are going to approach it.”