Arsenal's first choice goalkeeper, Bernd Leno hinted that the team is not really worried on loosing Aubamayang to Barcelona and Xhaka to Hertha Berli
Arsenal’s first choice goalkeeper, Bernd Leno hinted that the team is not really worried on loosing Aubamayang to Barcelona and Xhaka to Hertha Berlin.
Xhaka came close to leaving for Hertha Berlin before talks with Mikel Arteta convinced the former club captain to stay. Meanwhile Aubameyang, who has less than 18 months left on his contract, was a target for Barcelona.
The Gabon striker at least offered Arsenal and their supporters hope he could be in it for the long haul, using his programme notes against Chelsea to reaffirm his commitment to the club as speculation heightened over his future.
Arsenal are certainly pleased to have Xhaka and Aubameyang in their side. The latter has scored 14 of the Gunners’ 32 Premier League goals this season whilst Xhaka has grown in importance under Arteta, who values his ability to build play from deep.
“I think not too many players talked about this,” Leno said when asked to assess the importance of Xhaka and Aubameyang staying after the January window closed.
“Of course there are many rumours and other people talk about this, but you never had the feeling that any player was thinking about another club or wanted to leave or was refusing to train, or something like that, or they didn’t have the mentality in the training.
“Everybody can see we have a new manager and a new mentality. We want to build something here at Arsenal. Maybe it takes a little bit of time, but of course we also want to have good results straight away now.
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“You can see on the pitch all these rumours [don’t affect] these players – they are fighting, they are leading the team and this is the only way.”
Cedric is currently sidelined with a knee injury but could return soon after Arsenal’s fortnight break. Mari, meanwhile, could prove to be a significant new addition to Arteta’s sizeable centre-back corps.
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Of the six central defensive options currently in Arsenal’s first team Mari is the only one who is left-footed.
“Of course I don’t know the players, but I think they will have the quality to join Arsenal,” Leno said. “With them we have more options.
“Mari is left-footed, so as a centre-back that is one big option. Hopefully they adapt very quick to Arsenal and then we will have a lot of fun with them.”
Arsenal’s defensive improvements were evident even without Mari and Cedric but their attack was ultimately unable to carry the Gunners to victory as they were held to a goalless draw by Burnley at Turf Moor.