English Premiership

Arteta has no plans to change Arsenal's captain... for now

2020-01-06 08:09
Mikel Arteta
Mikel Arteta (Getty Images)

Cape Town - Mikel Arteta has no plans to change Arsenal's leadership group for now, but also admits it is important the captains are committed to the club long-term.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has worn the armband for the Gunners since Granit Xhaka was stripped of the captaincy in November following his outburst against supporters during the 2-2 draw with Crystal Palace in October.

It leaves the forward, Hector Bellerin, Alexandre Lacazette and Mesut Ozil as the remaining players in the original five-man leadership group under Unai Emery, who held a blind ballot amongst his squad to decide the skipper for this season.

Aubameyang has this week been linked with a move to Real Madrid and only has 18 months left on his contract, but new head coach Arteta insisted "I don't even think about that possibility" before discussing the importance of the armband.

He said: "The more stability we can generate with our captain and the players we have in the squad, I think the more clarity we will have to transmit to the fans what we are trying to do.

"There are many factors, some we cannot control, but at the moment everything is OK and not the time for me to change things in place because I haven't seen real things to make the decisions.

"I have been at clubs that have four or five captains. It is more a leadership group than captains. At the end, it is one guy wearing the armband and after the team picks the leaders.

"The moment they pick the leaders is when someone talks if they listen or they are looking at the roof. That is when you see."

Arteta captained Arsenal during his five-year spell as a player at the Emirates and the FA Cup encounter with Leeds on Monday brings back good memories for the Spaniard.

He first led the Gunners on January 9, 2012, when the Championship club made the trip to London in the third round of the competition.

It was the return of Thierry Henry and he scored the only goal in a 1-0 win, but Arteta, who only signed for Arsene Wenger the summer before, felt honoured to skipper Arsenal that day before doing so on a regular basis during his final two seasons with the club.

"I didn't know," he admitted. "I arrived and I had the armband next to my t-shirt. I asked Arsene 'boss, this is here, is it a mistake?' He said 'no, you are the captain' and I was like OK, good.

"It felt incredible. I wasn't here a long time and he put a lot of faith in me just when I arrived. I was very privileged and honoured."

Arteta, having known what it takes to captain Arsenal to success, is eager to avoid cliques at the club.

He added: "The leadership many times is related to how this team lives together.

"The moment you start to see different groups, they have leaders in this groups, but they are not shared in the best common interests of the group and this is what I wanted to avoid.

"We have some leaders, some are more leaders on the pitch and some more outside the pitch. Some have influence on players that is very necessary. We want to bring all together."


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