By Nick Teale
Arsène Wenger admits that he is concerned by the lack of progress made in talks with Fran Merida over a new contract.
Last November the Frenchman said that a deal had been verbally agreed with the 19-year-old. But Wenger is worried that he may lose the Spaniard because those discussions have failed to develop.
"We have not progressed there," he admitted. "I'm concerned, yes."
Recent newspaper speculation in Spain has suggested that the midfielder may be prepared to quit Arsenal for a return to his homeland at the end of his current deal in the summer.
However those reports were dismissed by Merida over the weekend. "At the moment I'm in talks with the boss," he told the Official Matchday Programme.
"My agent and I are only talking to Arsenal at the moment and nobody else."
The youngster has already made six first-team appearances for the Gunners this term after missing part of the season due to his Under-20 World Cup commitments with Spain.
Merida recently made his Champions League debut against Olympiacos and scored his first Arsenal goal in the 2-1 Carling Cup Fourth Round victory over Liverpool.