Mikel Arteta is still waiting to learn where he fits into Arsenal's transfer structure following the departure of Raul Sanllehi, but he defended the club's expenditure amid redundancies and pay cuts.

Arteta, whose FA Cup winners face Premier League champions Liverpool in the Community Shield on Saturday, is overseeing his first pre-season as head coach at Emirates Stadium.

But the former Gunners captain is not yet entirely sure of how he fits into the set-up during the transfer window, even as Arsenal have already signed Willian and closed on a deal for Gabriel Magalhaes.

Head of football Sanllehi departed earlier this month, with managing director Vinai Venkatesham taking control.

"It's something that we are discussing at the moment," Arteta said.

"First of all, I want to wish Raul all the best, all my respect and admiration, because I worked alongside him and enjoyed working with him.

"The club made that decision, a very difficult decision, as well. But the way he left the club, I think he honoured them. Everybody had nice words towards him.

"Now we have to figure out what is the best way to run our football club on the sporting side. That's what we are trying to do while trying to achieve as well all of the targets that we have for this transfer market."

Arsenal's business has been complicated further by disapproval of their spending while announcing 55 staff redundancies.

The first-team squad also took a pay cut during football's shutdown due to the coronavirus pandemic, although Mesut Ozil refused and was critical of "pressure" from the club.

As Arsenal aim to complement the arrivals of Willian and Gabriel with a costly new contract for captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Arteta said: "I understand.

"If you look only from a financial point of view, you can get some contradictory messages.

"But what is clear is the club had a very thorough plan for how to restructure our club in order to function better and to be more stable for the future.

"They were very convincing with the argument that they gave to all of us that it was the right thing to do.

"Obviously, [the redundancies are] really sad, and during the COVID period, we had to make the decision to get our players to contribute to the pay cut. One of the reasons was to maintain some of [the staff], as well.

"We're trying to do the right thing and the club is trying to protect the future of our club as much as possible.

"The players were happy to contribute to help the club in this difficult financial position. That doesn't mean that after you're going to have a say in every decision made by the club. It cannot work like that.

"At the end of the day, it was not an obligation, it was a choice whether you wanted to do it or not.

"We tried to do the right thing in a human way to help a club that has been supporting us, in my case, for many, many years, whether you were injured, sick, performing or not performing.

"We believed that it was the right thing to do, and then the club has to be free to try to fight for the future in the most positive and stable way."

However, Arteta acknowledged Arsenal must find "the right balance" with outgoing transfers, adding the club are "very aware" of the need to meet Financial Fair Play regulations.

Meanwhile, the coach would not confirm if any players will miss the Liverpool match due to self-isolation measures but said Arsenal "have some different problems".

Mikel Arteta believes Arsenal are close to an agreement with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang over a new contract.

Aubameyang, who scored 29 goals in all competitions for Arsenal last season, has less than a year left to run on his current deal at Emirates Stadium.

However, talks over a new contract for the 31-year-old are ongoing, and Arteta – whose side face Liverpool in the Community Shield on Saturday – is confident a deal will soon be struck.

"I keep being positive," Arteta told a news conference.

"We have had some really good talks with him and his agent and I am pretty confident that we're going to find an agreement soon. That's my feeling again."

Arteta, who is also close to adding Lille defender Gabriel Magalhaes to his squad, is fully aware of the boost a new contract for Aubameyang would give the club.

"Absolutely, and for him as well," Arteta said.

"I think he should be very happy if he's able to stay at the club for a long time. I think people will be delighted with that news."

Lionel Messi reportedly has no plans to hang around at Barcelona, while Neymar could be targeted for a return.

Amid the chaos at the LaLiga giants, there is fresh speculation over Messi's future.

The superstar is contracted at Barca until 2021 – but perhaps he could make a move sooner.

 

TOP STORY – MESSI WANTS IMMEDIATE BARCELONA EXIT

Messi wants to leave Barcelona immediately, according to Esporte Interativo.

The six-time Ballon d'Or winner has been linked to Premier League giants Manchester City and Serie A side Inter recently.

Contracted until next year, Messi was expected to re-sign at Barcelona, but their capitulation in the Champions League has led to chaos at the club.

 

ROUND-UP

- With Barcelona moving on from Quique Setien, where to next for the LaLiga giants? Sport reports Ronald Koeman and former Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino are the main candidates, while AS says the Netherlands head coach is the frontrunner.

- Moves are also expected at Camp Nou. According to Sport, Barcelona are preparing a deal for Paris Saint-Germain star Neymar, ready to offer Antoine Griezmann and €60million to bring the Brazil international back to the club. AS says Barca are also prepared to sell Arthur, who is joining Juventus, Ivan Rakitic, Arturo Vidal, Martin Braithwaite, Junior Firpo, Samuel Umtiti and Ousmane Dembele.

- Pochettino is reportedly an option for Barcelona, but the Argentinian may have options. The Sun reports City are eyeing Pochettino amid doubts over Pep Guardiola's future as manager.

- It looks like Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is staying at Arsenal. The Telegraph reports Arsenal have agreed terms with the forward over a new deal.

- Chelsea are expected to sign at least one defender this close season. According to the Mirror, they are preparing a move for City defender John Stones – even if they land Brighton and Hove Albion's Lewis Dunk.

- Another Brighton and Hove Albion defender is apparently attracting interest. The Sun says Liverpool, Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea, Tottenham and Leicester City are interested in Ben White, who spent 2019-20 on loan at Leeds United.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang sparked a flurry of speculation about his future on Sunday when Arsenal's FA Cup final hero posted a teasing tweet.

The Gabon striker has entered the final year of his contract with the Gunners, who have been keen for him to commit for a longer duration.

He posted an image of an egg-timer on Twitter, possibly suggesting there could be imminent news to announce.

There was speculation it may mean that Aubameyang, who joined Arsenal from Borussia Dortmund in 2018, has signed a new contract.

The 31-year-old scored 22 goals in the Premier League for Arsenal last season, just as he did in the previous campaign.

He struck both of the goals for Mikel Arteta's team in their 2-1 victory over Chelsea in the FA Cup final on August 1.

There has been a clamour among supporters of the north London club for them to get a deal agreed, and many followers on social media begged Aubameyang to reveal what his cryptic message meant.

One, going by the Twitter handle @bhavss14, replied: "Bro, don’t play with our hearts like this."

Willian is a quality signing who will improve Arsenal's squad but tying down captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to a new deal remains vital to the Gunners' chances of success, says Ashley Cole.

Brazil forward Willian made the short hop to Emirates Stadium from Chelsea, ending a seven-year association with the Blues to pen a three-year deal at their London rivals.

It marks the first signing of the window for head coach Mikel Arteta ahead of what will be his first full season in charge, with the Spaniard – who led Arsenal to FA Cup final glory against Chelsea – aiming to improve on an eighth-place finish in the Premier League.

Having won five major honours during his time with the Blues, Willian has the sort of pedigree Arsenal are looking for to start competing among the top four again, and potentially earn continental success in the Europa League next term.

But Cole, who represented both clubs and won the Europa League with Chelsea during his glittering career, says convincing prolific striker Aubameyang to extend a contract that runs out next June remains an important target for Arteta.

"Firstly, you have to take your hat off to Willian," Cole told Stats Perform News. "He was a great servant for Chelsea. Staying at one club for seven years is not easy, but he's done that and has brought a lot of trophies to Chelsea.

"He performed very well across those seven years and has been their best player at times this season. At the end of the day, the club decided he can go and he has decided to go to Arsenal.

"A lot of Chelsea fans will wish him well because he was a great servant and now he's going to help to improve Arsenal's squad.

"Aubameyang is also a great player and has proved how good he is with his goal ratio this season.

"He's very important to Arsenal's success this season in the FA Cup and Arteta will of course want his top players to stay while adding some more quality.

"They've done that with the Willian signing, so Arteta will know he wants to keep him and get in better players to add to that squad. It's important they keep him but that's down to Arteta and Aubameyang."

Willian's decision to end his time at Chelsea may have been partially influenced by the big-money additions Frank Lampard has been making to his squad.

Hakim Ziyech and Timo Werner arrived from Ajax and RB Leipzig, respectively, while Bayer Leverkusen's attacking midfielder Kai Havertz continues to be linked with a switch to Stamford Bridge.

Cole, now working at Chelsea as an academy coach, hopes to see exciting talent Havertz at Stamford Bridge as part of a new-look attack.

"Frank has had a brilliant first season and added two players, and maybe Havertz as well," he added. "Our attacking threat is amazing and the fans will be happy.

"Hopefully they can add Havertz to make their attacking threat even more potent. It is a young squad, with young players who have top quality and have played in top leagues being added.

"It's good to see them at Chelsea and hopefully they can quickly integrate into the team ahead of next season."

Chelsea may have lost the FA Cup final but did manage to secure a top-four finish in the Premier League in Lampard's maiden campaign as boss.

Former England international Cole is glad to see to see a generation he played with and against given a chance at the top level.

"As young coaches, you never know until you're put in these situations," he said.

"Arteta has done a great job in transforming Arsenal into playing good football, making them good to watch.

"Lampard has done the same with some young players. I think it's a good sign that owners and chairmen are giving young coaches a chance without much experience.

"But young coaches can't gain experience unless they are given an opportunity."

Arsenal must promise Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang they will sign world-class players if they want to convince him to say, says Robin van Persie.

Prolific attacker Aubameyang is in the final year of his contract at Emirates Stadium and was unwilling to comment on his future after a match-winning double in the FA Cup final against Chelsea on August 2.

The club captain had been linked with a move away but is reportedly willing to extend his stay in north London following Mikel Arteta's appointment as head coach.

An agreement is yet to be reached and former Arsenal striker Van Persie says the club must convince Aubameyang they will build a squad capable of challenge for Premier League and Champions League glory.

Van Persie told Stats Perform News: "Arsenal would like for him to stay, he hasn't really come out yet with his opinion. He got asked the question after the FA Cup final and he didn't answer so I don't know.

"I don't know what he thinks, I don't know what Arsenal have offered him and I'm not really talking about money, I'm more talking about players because players like him want to play with world-class players. He is a world-class player in my opinion, and he wants to be surrounded by world-class players.

"And then you have to ask him, and it's up to him, if he thinks that he can win the Premier League at Arsenal. Because winning the FA Cup was very nice but these types of players, and Arsenal Football Club, want to compete for the Premier League and the Champions League. That is the big goal. You want to compete with the best teams that there are.

"I can't really judge from the outside but you have to just put it in place. Arsenal need to make their mind up and Aubameyang as well and find each other or not.

"That's how it is and in the end … part of it now is business and he will calculate that for himself and the club will do as well."

 

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Chelsea have reportedly joined two Premier League rivals in a tug-of-war for sought-after centre-back Ben White.

The talented Brighton and Hove Albion defender is wanted back at Elland Road, where he spent last season on loan, but Leeds United have long been tipped to face competition from Liverpool.

Now, an unexpected new contender for his signature has emerged.

 

TOP STORY – BLUES WANT WHITE

Frank Lampard and Chelsea have identified the highly rated White as a solution to their issues at the back, reports the Daily Star.

The Blues are said to be keen on the 22-year-old and will jettison Antonio Rudiger if their plan succeeds.

Rudiger struggled during the recent FA Cup final defeat against Arsenal and was overlooked for Saturday's 4-1 Champions League loss to Bayern Munich, which confirmed a heavy 7-1 aggregate hiding.

Sky Sports claims Brighton have already rejected two Leeds offers for White, who has been linked to Liverpool for several months.

 

ROUND-UP

- The Daily Star also has an update on Alexandre Lacazette, who could join Atletico Madrid in a €31.1million (£30m) move once Arsenal tie Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to a new contract.

- Manchester United are looking to sell Phil Jones after deciding against sending the defender for knee surgery, reports the Mirror.

- Ligue 1's Monaco are in talks to sign Weston McKennie from Bundesliga club Schalke, according to L'Equipe, although the United States international is also attracting Premier League interest.

- Niko Kovac's men are not the only French outfit weighing up a midfield addition. Paris Saint-Germain have been linked to Ismael Bennacer and Le 10 Sport suggests Serie A side Milan could be tempted by a big-money offer.

Arsenal star Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang's future has dominated headlines.

With Aubameyang due to become a free agent in 2021, Arsenal have been desperate to re-sign the Gabon international.

Now, it looks like the 31-year-old will remain at Emirates Stadium for an extended period.

 

TOP STORY – AUBAMEYANG TO SIGN NEW DEAL

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is close to signing a new three-year contract with Arsenal, according to The Telegraph.

Aubameyang's current deal is due to expire next year and the Arsenal star has been linked to LaLiga giants Barcelona, as well as Ligue 1 champions Paris Saint-Germain and Inter.

But Aubameyang is set to sign a deal that will run until 2023, a two-year extension.

 

ROUND-UP

- Journalist Fabrizio Romano claims it is only a matter of time before Willian signs a contract with Arsenal until 2023. Chelsea midfielder Willian is free to talk to clubs as his deal at Stamford Bridge expires. The Gunners are also eyeing Thomas Partey but Atletico Madrid insist the midfielder will not leave unless his £45million (€50m) release clause is paid.

Paul Pogba is happy at Manchester United and is ready to sign a new contract, reports Romano. Pogba has been previously linked to former club Juventus and LaLiga champions Real Madrid.

- Staying at Old Trafford, and The Guardian claims United will listen to offers for Jesse Lingard as they try to prise Jadon Sancho from Borussia Dortmund. United and Dortmund are still negotiating a transfer for Sancho, according to widespread reports.

Edinson Cavani could be poised to join Brazilian outfit Atletico Mineiro, reports Globo Esporte. The 33-year-old Uruguay international is a free agent after leaving PSG. Cavani has been linked to Portuguese giants Benfica, newly promoted Premier League team Leeds United, MLS outfit Inter Miami, Atletico and Inter.

Everton are interested in signing Atletico's Thomas Lemar, says Le10Sport. Carlo Ancelotti's Everton are also hoping to bring United full-back Diego Dalot to Goodison Park, reports The Mirror.

- According to The Athletic, Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg is set to join Tottenham from Southampton. Spurs will pay £19m for the former Bayern Munich midfielder.

Liverpool will have to pay close to £20m for Norwich City left-back Jamal Lewis after the Premier League champions had a £10m offer rejected, says The Guardian.

David Silva looks set to move to Lazio. According to Sky Sport Italia, the Manchester City midfielder – a free agent – will swap the Premier League for Serie A following the club's Champions League campaign.

Memphis Depay has links to Manchester United and he might be able to help out his former club.

Depay spent two years at United but struggled before leaving for Ligue 1 outfit Lyon in 2017.

The Netherlands international has since flourished in France, and he could now play a role in United bringing Jadon Sancho to Manchester.

 

TOP STORY – DORTMUND WANT DEPAY AS SANCHO REPLACEMENT

Manchester United's bid to sign Borussia Dortmund star Jadon Sancho could hinge on Lyon captain Memphis Depay, according to The Sun.

Sancho has been tipped to leave Bundesliga side Dortmund for Premier League giants United in a blockbuster transfer this off-season.

Former United forward Depay has emerged as a possible replacement for Sancho at Dortmund and is reportedly the key to the Red Devils prising the England international to Old Trafford.

 

ROUND-UP

- Could Antonio Conte leave Inter after just one season? The Inter head coach took aim at the club after their final game of the Serie A season – a 2-0 win over Atalanta on Saturday to secure second spot behind Juventus. Conte claimed neither he nor his players were protected by the club amid criticism. Now, Sky Sport Italia, SportMediaset, La Gazzetta dello Sport, Tuttosport and Corriere dello Sport claim the damage is irreparable. With Conte facing an uncertain future, former Juve head coach Massimiliano Allegri and ex-Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino have emerged as possible replacements.

- Le10Sport reports Arsenal forward Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang wants Barcelona's Ousmane Dembele to join the Gunners. Dembele has been linked with a move away from the LaLiga giants, who are reportedly trying to raise transfer funds through sales. Aubameyang himself has been linked to Barca, as well as Paris Saint-Germain and United previously.

Milan are ready to sell Lucas Paqueta, claims Calciomercato. Linked to PSG previously, Serie A rivals Fiorentina are interested in the Brazilian attacker and an exchange involving Viola star defender Nikola Milenkovic could take place.

- According to the Telegraph, Sevilla defender Diego Carlos is at the top of Arsenal's transfer wish list. Premier League rivals Manchester City and Liverpool have also been credited with interest.

- AS Diario says Real Madrid have a clear plan of when they want to pursue their transfer targets amid the coronavirus pandemic. Reluctant to spend after winning LaLiga and in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis, Madrid are focusing on 2021 – PSG's Kylian Mbappe at the top of the list. Rennes sensation Eduardo Camavinga is also wanted next year, while Dortmund forward Erling Haaland is a 2022 target.

Mikel Arteta has challenged Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to stay at Arsenal and become a club great.

Aubameyang scored both goals – as he did in the semi-final win over Manchester City – as Arsenal completed a stirring 2-1 FA Cup final triumph over Chelsea on Saturday.

The former Borussia Dortmund forward has 70 goals in all competitions since joining the Gunners in January 2018, but his future is the subject of mounting speculation.

Aubameyang is out of contract next year, although Arteta has repeatedly expressed confidence the Gabon international is ready to remain at Emirates Stadium.

After his superb winning goal downed London rivals Chelsea, he was challenged by his head coach to place himself alongside the likes of Ian Wright and Thierry Henry in Arsenal history.

"It's the most difficult thing in football, that's for sure, and he makes it simple – look at the second goal he scored," Arteta said.

"We always had incredible strikers at this football club and Auba deserves to be named and compared with the big names.

"By winning trophies he will be closer to that and the longer he stays there as well.

"Hopefully we can have him for more time."

Arteta also made a point of praising Aubameyang's work ethic – the captain leading by example in a squad where the likes of Mesut Ozil and Matteo Guendouzi have fallen shy of their boss' exacting standards.

"The biggest problem as well was probably to convince [Aubameyang] to work the way he is working," Arteta added.

"He was going to get more rewarded, more respected and then that respect goes from respect to admiration – admiration from his team-mates, the people who work with him and the fans.

"I think now, the way he is conducting himself on and off the field, he has got that."

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang looks like he has already decided to pursue an Arsenal exit, according to Manchester United great Rio Ferdinand.

Having already inspired Arsenal's FA Cup semi-final win over Manchester City, the Gabon international scored both goals as the Gunners came from behind to defeat rivals Chelsea 2-1 in Saturday's final at Wembley.

It capped a superb season for the club captain, who has scored 29 goals across all competitions and been prolific ever since signing from Borussia Dortmund in January 2018.

The future of Aubameyang has been intensely debated as he is out of contract in 12 months, with the Gunners not in next season's Champions League, though this win ensured they do at least reach the Europa League.

In an on-pitch interview prior to lifting the trophy, Aubameyang, 31, insisted he had nothing to say when asked to clarify his future.

Ferdinand felt the implication was clear.

"That says he is gone," the former Manchester United and England defender told BT Sport after Arsenal's record 14th FA Cup triumph. 

"[He said], 'I'm going to enjoy this moment with my team-mates and I don't want to talk about my future'.

"That says to me I just feel like either there have been no negotiations up to now, which I don't believe, or he has already decided he is going to go.

"I'm just talking about my perspective. If I am committed to the club and staying, this is a moment for me to get it sorted out [and say], 'It is not done yet but I am going to get it sorted out here guys'.

"He won't thank me for saying it, but he sounded like someone who is already looking to go elsewhere.

"Arsenal need to do all they can to get this guy to stay - 70 goals in 109 appearances says it all. And the way he finished [the second goal against Chelsea], Jesus, it was unbelievable."

Christian Pulisic and Cesar Azpilicueta will miss Chelsea's Champions League clash with Bayern Munich after limping off in Saturday's 2-1 FA Cup final defeat to Arsenal.

Captain Azpilicueta pulled up with a hamstring injury five minutes after giving away a penalty that Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang converted to kickstart Arsenal's comeback.

And Pulisic, the scorer of Chelsea's early opener at Wembley, also made way four minutes into the second half with an identical issue sustained as he was charging through on goal.

Pedro then suffered a suspected dislocated shoulder late on and Frank Lampard has ruled the trio out of next Saturday's last-16 second leg with Bayern, which Chelsea will start trailing 3-0 on aggregate.

"I don't know the full extent of the injuries, but I know its the hamstrings with Azpi and Christian," he said at his post-match news conference.

"They have to be scanned and assessed over the next few days. They clearly won't be fit for next week."

Pedro, who was given oxygen as he was stretchered off the field, is expected to join Roma on a free transfer when his Chelsea contract expires later this month.

"I believe it could be a dislocated shoulder but don't go too soon on that," Lampard said when asked for an update on the forward's condition.

"I've not seen him yet as he was whisked away so it's a disappointing end as that's probably going to be his last game for Chelsea.

"He's been an incredible servant and I'm disappointed for him."

Chelsea got off to a flyer through Pulisic's fifth-minute strike but Aubameyang added to his penalty with an impressive second to take Arsenal's record tally of triumphs in the competition to 14.

The Blues' hopes of scoring an equaliser were dented by a controversial second yellow card shown to Mateo Kovacic for a challenge on Granit Xhaka.

Replays showed Kovacic barely made contact with his opponent and Lampard questioned referee Anthony Taylor's decision to reach into his back pocket.

"The penalty was rightly awarded, but it wasn't a sending off, that was pretty clear," he said.

And Lampard insisted on another day the outcome could have been different for Chelsea, who finished fourth in the Premier League in the club legend's first season in charge.

"Today was not about not showing up. We made a great start and had control of the game," he said.

"Then we got sloppy and got slower in our game and that changes the tone of it. 

"If Christian goes through and scores instead of pulling his hamstring then things are different, although we didn't play well enough.

"I can't criticise the players and their approach in their desire to win this game. We can't be stuck on today - we have to look at the season."

Aubameyang ultimately proved the difference in the all-London final and Lampard admitted his side's defending could have been better on the day.

"He's scored two goals, one of those being a penalty which he earns," he said.

"I was clear with the players about the threat of Arsenal's long balls behind them. We allowed him in easily.

"Aubameyang's a top-class player. His second goal showed his ability. In moments like that Aubameyang can finish you off."

Mikel Arteta thanked Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola after Arsenal beat Chelsea 2-1 in the FA Cup final to give the head coach what he described as the best moment of his career.

Arteta left his position as City assistant in December after three years alongside Guardiola to take over from Unai Emery at Emirates Stadium.

The 38-year-old has enjoyed a successful first campaign at Arsenal, culminating in Saturday's win at Wembley to take their record tally of triumphs in the famous competition to 14.

And Arteta, who becomes the first Arsenal boss to win a major trophy in his first season in charge since George Graham in 1986-87, was quick to laud Guardiola.

"He has been a key figure in my development as a coach," he said at his post-match news conference. 

"He has my gratitude. I wouldn't be sitting here today without him. I have to thank him big time."

Arteta also had Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to thank after his double turned the all-London final around following Christian Pulisic's early opener for Chelsea.

The Spaniard, who said after the match he is optimistic Aubameyang will sign a contract extension, praised the club captain for another match-winning display.

"Big games require big moments for big players - he did that in the semi-final and now today," he said. 

"People questioning whether he can do it in big games and he's done it today."

Arsenal finished eighth in the Premier League - their lowest position since 1994-95 - but have earned a place in next season's Europa League thanks to their win over Chelsea.

Arteta is pleased with the steps his players have taken in his first eight months at the helm and is hopeful that his side can build on their latest domestic cup success.

"I think this is the best moment of my career because I know the difficulties we've been through," he said.

"I had one mission - make the players and staff believe that we could do it. Seeing the change in the dressing room is what makes me more proud.

"I completely understood the needs of this football club. I knew the challenges I was facing when I made a decision to come here and the expectations we will always have. 

"This is the first one. Let's enjoy it today. My players have been fantastic and the staff and everyone upstairs."

Arteta, who only ended his playing career with Arsenal in 2016, added: "I could write a book on my time here. Everyday has presented something different. 

"I'm very lucky the people I have around me for every decision I had to make. Until you are sitting in this seat, you don't know the responsibility you have to make. 

"I'm proud of what we've done."

Ashley Cole believes FA Cup winners Arsenal must bring "top names" to the club if they want to keep Wembley hero Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

Two goals from Aubameyang ushered Arsenal to a 2-1 victory over Chelsea in the first behind-closed-doors FA Cup final.

With less than 12 months left on his Arsenal contract, Aubameyang's future remains unclear, although head coach Mikel Arteta has expressed confidence a new deal can be agreed.

Former Arsenal defender Cole said it was not enough for the club to focus on bringing through young talent if they want to show the likes of Aubameyang they have real ambition.

And he challenged the Gunners' board to give Arteta the funds to go out and build a stronger team for next season.

Cole said: "I think they've got to back him. He's done enough. You see the qualities he has so you've got to back him now.

"He's got the young ones coming through, but I still feel you need some experience.

"If you want to keep Aubameyang, it's all good keeping youngsters, but you've got to bring some top names alongside them as well."

There are few sharper finishers in English football than Aubameyang, and his 22 goals in the Premier League offered further proof of his importance to Arsenal.

Club great Ian Wright also reckons Aubameyang will be looking for indications of Arsenal's resolve to challenge the likes of Manchester City, Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester United on a consistent basis.

Wright, who like Cole was speaking on BBC One, considered the prospect of incoming top talent and Aubameyang's future being intertwined.

"I'm sure it'll be one of his stipulations for him staying," Wright said.

"He will want the kind of players around him that are going to create chances for him, who are going to have the same ambition as him, wanting to win things and wanting to win things with the club.

"That's what I would want to do if I was staying.

"It's a long road Arsenal are on under Arteta. This is a good start.

"You just hope now the people upstairs will look at the kind of manager they've got, the ambitions he's got and back him as much as they can because I think he'll bring the good times back."

Mikel Arteta is confident Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang will sign a new deal and intends to build Arsenal's squad around the striker following his FA Cup final heroics against Chelsea.

Aubameyang followed up his semi-final brace against Manchester City with two more goals in Saturday's 2-1 win over 10-man Chelsea as Arsenal recovered from an early Christian Pulisic strike.

The Gabon international's future has been shrouded in doubt amid reports he does not intend to sign a contract extension, with his current terms due to expire next year.

However, Arteta said on the eve of the final he does not expect Aubameyang to leave and he is now even more optimistic about Arsenal's chances of persuading their captain to stay.

"He knows what I think about him. I want to build the squad around him," Arteta told BBC One. "I think he wants to stay and it is just about getting the deal done.

"But I think these moments will help him to realise and believe that we are in the right path and he is a big part of that. 

 

"He is loved by everybody at the club. Hopefully he can continue with us."

Asked if he feels Aubameyang will put pen to paper on a new deal, Arteta replied: "I think he will, yes."

Arsenal showed good character to respond to Pulisic's fifth-minute goal at Wembley, with Aubameyang converting from the penalty spot before half-time and adding a second with an impressive solo strike in the second half.

And Arteta, who succeeded Unai Emery as Arsenal boss in December, believes his side kept one of their best displays of his tenure until the final game of the season.

"It was a difficult start when we conceded so early. If I know something about these players, it's that we weren't going to give up," he said.

"We played probably the best 30 minutes after since I arrived. I am so proud to represent these players and this club."

Arsenal finished the Premier League season in eighth place but will now play in the Europa League next season after lifting the FA Cup for a record-extending 14th time.

"It is a double reward for us. It is really important for this club in every way to be in Europe. We all did it so I am so happy," Arteta added.

"The players were completely knackered and they made a massive effort through the coronavirus to keep fit so I am so happy for them."

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