By Chris Harris
Andre Santos says the competition for the left-back spot at Arsenal has made him a better player.
The 29-year-old made 21 appearances last season, one fewer than Kieran Gibbs, but the England man has kept Santos out of the starting line-up for all but one game this term.
That will change at Norwich on Saturday when Santos replaces Gibbs, who is nursing an injury he suffered against West Ham before the international break.
The Brazilian international is determined to take his chance and he believes that his friendly rivalry with Gibbs has benefited both players.
"Of course it does," Santos told Arsenal Player. "In life you always find competition and this competition exists but it is only on the pitch and this is good for the team.
"Kieran is an exceptional player, and I know I have qualities too. This is a very healthy competition, we're always talking about it between us before and after training. Kieran is a good friend and I respect the hard work he puts in every day and I know he feels the same way about me.
"He has been playing well and, even if we fight for the same position, I know how good he is. I know that he's having a good spell in the squad and obviously I respect that and am pleased for him.
"I believe that whoever is better at the moment will keep on playing and it's the manager's choice. However, he will always give opportunities to all the players.
"Of course it is hard [when you are not playing]," added Santos. "At every club I've been at I've always played regularly. It is difficult to be on the bench, but we are a team, we are doing well and I'll just keep on working hard so I can be back on the pitch regularly."
Santos has recently been the subject of transfer speculation but he was quick to quash rumours that he was considering a move back to Turkey.
"There were some rumours that my name was involved in this possible comeback," he said. "I had people asking me on Twitter and even players from Fenerbache asking if it was true, but I'm very happy here at Arsenal and I hope to stay here at Arsenal for a long time.
"I have a contract and I'm very happy here, not only at Arsenal but in London too, it is a great city. The Arsenal fans are amazing, this is a great club, and I hope to stay here for a good while."
Watch the full interview with Andre on Arsenal Player.
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