Interview

Arteta on... the pre-season, Florida and more

Mikel Arteta sat down with us in Scotland to look ahead to the new season.

Our manager told Arsenal Media about what he hopes to achieve ahead of August 13, and discussed how him and his staff are assessing the players, backroom changes, and Bukayo Saka.

Read on for a full transcript:

on recharging his batteries over the summer...
It was very much needed. It's been a very busy 18 months with a lot of unexpected things happening with a lot of responsibility and a lot of decision making, but very exciting at the same time. I needed to see my family again, be a little bit away from football, and start to prepare for what is going to be, hopefully, a very successful season for us.

on what the squad are working on at the moment...
Well a few aspects. Obviously the physical aspect is very important. After five weeks, the players need to get in good shape and the best possible condition to compete at the levels that the Premier League requires. Then mentally, we need to prepare the team with the ideas that we have, with the values that we have, with the ambition that we want to take into the league. Third, to get the cohesion of the team right, the understanding of the game, what we are looking for, our game model, our principles, and how we're going to develop that in the next five weeks to get to the Premier League in the best possible stage.

on how him and his staff assess the players when they come back...
Communication and basically understanding where they have been, what they have been doing and what they feel they need. I think it's the best way to try to help them as much as possible. We've got a lot of good professionals here, people who know the players really well and have been here for a long time. Then it's just individual needs. The team needs different things throughout this pre-season. Sometimes they need a stick, sometimes they need a bit of carrot and love. But the chemistry between the players and the staff, it's a really good moment to build that relationship and that spirit, because it's one of the foundations that sustains everything when good and bad moments appear throughout the season.

on the backroom staff changes...
Yeah we had a situation in the summer with Andreas [Georgson], where he had the possibility to leave to his country. He had different reasons to do that and I understood that situation, so we needed to recruit somebody. After looking through what the best solution would be, a person that I know was on the market, was available, is someone whose expertise are incredibly useful and valuable for us. He's joining us. His name is Nicolas Jover  and I've worked with him before at City.

on the benefits of this pre-season compared to last...
The first thing is that we've got time, something that we haven't had since arrived here, to prepare a lot of things that are very necessary to develop. The second one, we chose Scotland - it was Kieran's advice to be fair and I think he was spot on. It's got everything that we need here. We are quiet, we are calm, we have really good facilities, we are not far from home just in case something happens in this COVID world. It's been really good and we could have two really good games to start our preparation. America is about going away. We know the brand, the club that we represent, and that's a global brand. We have to be there, we have to be close to our fans all around the world. That's a huge opportunity for us to do that and we have our owners there that we can see, meet and get close to the team, which is a really positive thing as well. And then we have a tournament that had everything that we wanted: international teams, a Premier League team, and we can start to raise the level in our preparation.

on reintegrating players after the Euros and the Olympics...
That's a normal dynamic in any top team. We are grateful that we have international players because they have experienced an incredible tournament. Some of them have been more successful than others but I think they represented the club in a really positive and incredible way, I must say, in some of the cases. That's very valuable. Their return to training is now going to be different to what others are doing but we'll have to fit that in and it won't be an issue.

on how Bukayo Saka is...
He's fine. Obviously he had some tough days after what happened in the final but I think you have to look at the whole picture. This kid, at 19 years old, has played almost every game in the Premier League. He was our Player of the Season, I think he has earned the respect and admiration of everyone at the football club. But not only that, he's gone to an international stage, he started the European competition with an injury and still he has managed to be in the starting XI. He reached the final and he couldn't lift that trophy but I think he has a much bigger trophy than that, and that's that now he really knows that in good and bad moments, everybody at the club, every Arsenal fan and every English fan is right behind him. He has earned that with his behaviour, his talent and with the way he is. That's going to be there for the rest of his life. A trophy is there in the wardrobe and then you have to be the man in the next one. But what he has achieved and how he has united people is very powerful and he should be really, really proud of that.

on his emotions at seeing what Bukayo did in the summer...
I wasn't surprised, I spoke to Gareth before the tournament and we all shared the same opinion on B: that this kid is going to push everybody there, just the way he trains, the way he is, the way he competes. He can be a star in those competitions. The maturity that he has shown at his age is pretty special, I have not seen many of those - and now he is going to have to cope with other things over the next year, it is going to be about expectations. Can he do it again? Can he raise his game again, can he improve, can he keep making better decision, be more consistent, start to win more regularly? That is the thing that he needs to do that at this very early stage in his career.

on what steps have been taken to support Bukayo...
All the players and staff were right behind him before the final, they all sent him a beautiful message of unity and hope that he could lift that trophy, and how proud we were of him to see him at that stage. Credit to the academy, everything they have done to raise the boy how they have done, to develop in the way they have developed him, and now is the fruits of all the hard work that has been done at the club. Everybody, how they felt, after he faced criticism when he faced a tough moment... he knows we are all right behind him.

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