Press conference

Arteta on the captaincy, Aubameyang and more

Mikel Arteta faced the media on Tuesday to preview our next match against West Ham United.

The boss was asked about the club captaincy, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, facing the Hammers and more.

Read on for a full transcript:

on the captaincy decision…

I don’t have much more to say, I think it’s a real clear statement from the club. It’s a decision we have made following the last incident that we had with the players and this is where we stand.

on how many incidents there have been...

I don't mind you asking but I can't go any further on that as you can believe. When we had to make that decision, it was because it was the right one to defend the interests of the football club.

on whether he broke the news to Auba himself...

Yes, we did it, both the club having a personal conversation and myself having a face-to-face with the player.

on how Auba took the news...

He had to accept the decision.

on who the next captain could be...

Well we have the leadership group and we have different players who have been nominated to be captain, in the last game it was Laca, we had had Granit who has been captain as well, so we will follow that. It is a really unpleasant situation and it is not the moment to any rash decision. That leadership group is really strong, it is the one that communicates with myself and the coaching staff and with the club in a really strong and clear way and we are going to continue that. That is one of the decisions we make, to make that group a little bit better and try to educate them and try to get the right feedback all the time and build the trust and a strong culture around the club. It is working really well so we will continue to do that.

on how important the appointment of the next captain is...

It's really important but for me having the leadership group is something that has been tremendously helpful because then you get different voices. It is a really multicultural dressing room that needs a lot of attention and different feelings ands different languages, they all have to be involved and I'm comfortable with that.

on the impact of the decision on the dressing room...

They accept the decision and I think they know because they have committed to it and they have demanded it, that we want to take our culture and our demands, and who do we want to be as a club and how we want to represent this club to a different level. When those standards are not met, you know you cannot participate in our daily basics.

on how big a test this of the leadership qualities of the squad...

It is a really unpredictable environment and sport and every day is harder and harder to live with a lot of things that happened. But they are dealing with it extremely well, you can see what they are doing on the pitch, the amount of importance they are taking around the club and how vital they have been in our very close season. So that is what I want, I want them to take accountability. They want to be important players in the team, it has to be on and off the field and when those decisions are taken, they have to participate in that as well because they are a big part of that.

on how the team is looking in terms of fitness...

The rest is always good, hopefully we had all the negative tests of the players and regarding that it is obviously a big concern with everything that is happening in the league and in the country but hopefully everybody will be available and fit.

on West Ham's form this season and how impressed he has been...

Very much, and for me one of the best teams in the league. This period... the  understanding that they have, the clarity in what they want to do and how much they are able to hurt teams with the way they play has been impressive and they have been really really consistent.

on whether he would consider selling Auba in January...

I can say right now that we have made this decision, unfortunately it's a really tough one and obviously if I had to choose I would not like to be sitting here talking about it but we had to do it. But for now, he is not involved in the squad.

on when he will be back in the squad..

What I can say for now is that, you can understand it is a lot to digest and a really difficult decision to make, so we need a bit of time.

on whether there is a way back for Auba...

What I can say now is to make the decision that we made is really hurting, and it is still like this and it needs a bit of time to heal. So for now, he is not involved in the squad.

on how he would describe his relationship with Auba...

Since I have been here, really, really good. That is why it is painful.

on whether Auba disputed the decision...

No.

on whether he agreed with it...

I cannot go any further about personal conversations, I tell you how it was done and it's the way I like to do it, eye to eye, and that's it.

on which players could come into the leadership group…

That leadership group can alter and you can have people coming in and out as well in relation to the topic you are discussing, the moment that they are living in the team and when you need them to mature or be involved in something that is going to be very important in their education and we have players there that are constantly going to be involved and other times they’re going to be participating as well because it’s a team-building thing.

on whether the news could unite the team…

Unfortunately, we have to be clear about the situation and I think it’s better to put it out there. The amount of games that we’re going to play now, whether it’s now or in three days time it’s not going to be any different to close any speculation and try to be transparent and clear of what we’ve done and I thought it was the right decision to do it right now and the team is fully focussed right now thinking that the game tomorrow is vital for us.

on if the decision would have been made regardless of Auba’s form…

Without a question of a doubt.

on if Auba has apologised…

I cannot discuss what I have discussed with him.

on if Xhaka could be the new captain…

Granit is one of the captains and he’s part of the leadership group and is a really important player for us.

on if there have been any positive COVID tests at the club…

No, we haven’t had any players test positive.

on if Auba has played his last game for us…

All I can say is that for now, he’s out of the squad, he’s not involved and sadly, this is the decision that we’ve taken.

on if the situation is similar to Ozil’s departure…

It’s a really particular situation, first of all with the importance that the player has at the club, with their role, with the relationship that I have with him, but unfortunately, this is the situation that we have and we have to face it.

on if he was expecting to make the announcement…

For sure, I hoped I would be here today talking about something different and talking about Auba in a completely different way, but again, we have to make decisions and I’m here with the club to try and make the right decisions every single day and this is all we try to do.

on if the Auba news can inspire the team…

I’m hoping that the team tomorrow is going to get out there with the fire in their eyes and knowing the importance of the game. West Ham are within catching distance and tomorrow we play at home in front of our people and we expect a great performance and a great result.

on whether football could go back behind closed doors…

Everything that happened this week is a really worrying sign. There are games that have been cancelled and postponed for that reason, players and staff members with really high numbers of positive tests. It’s really worrying.

on whether there is an ongoing disciplinary situation with Aubameyang…

What I can say again is that we have made this decision based on certain moments where he has not fulfilled his duties, and that’s it. That expectation and commitment that we need from every player, that’s at a different level. That’s why we were forced to make that decision.

on whether there are things that he can’t discuss about the situation…

I have tried to explain the situation as clearly as I possibly can. But obviously there are situations and private matters that I cannot discuss with you. But I think you all should know the reasons why - and instead of having any excuses - tell the truth. I would add consequently to that, I think that this club and it’s people, and every supporter needs transparency - whether they agree or not - to be told what happened, and (to be told) the truth and why we have made that decision.

on whether it could be a fresh start for the team and supporters…

Well, we have to deal with the situation right now, we have to make the most out of it and the thing is that tomorrow we have a game. We have to show how much we care about that game tomorrow, and I’m sure that every player that steps out onto that pitch is going to be on hundred percent committed.

on how big the West Ham game will feel to the players…

Well, it’s a big game because of the position they are in, and the position we want to be in. Tomorrow we have the opportunity at home, in front of our people to do that. That would be a big, big boost.

on whether having the crowd behind us will make a difference tomorrow…

Well you can see when the crowd gets behind the team, the moments that [the team] are creating. A really great example was against Southampton again, and that’s what the players are talking about right now. They know tomorrow night under the lights they will be right behind the team and they want to please them.

02:12

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