‘I am always happy when people talk about our players’

Mikel Arteta has said he will discuss Alexandre Lacazette‘s Arsenal future at the end of the season — but welcomed interest from rival clubs as a sign of the striker’s progress.

The 29-year-old, who has scored three goals in his last five games including the winner in last month’s north London derby against Tottenham, will have just one year left on his deal this summer with talks yet to begin on an extension amid speculation linking him with a move to Sevilla, Roma or Atletico Madrid.

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– Insider Notebook: Roma, Sevilla watch Lacazette developments

With finances tight as a result of COVID-19, Arsenal must decide whether to let Lacazette leave this summer to help generate funds to reinvest elsewhere in the squad or re-sign a player who turns 30 in May on a big contract. The level of European competition Arsenal qualify for next season will also be a factor.

“I am always happy when people talk about our players and speculate, that means they are doing well and they are getting attention from other clubs,” Arteta said.

“The situation with Laca, we’ll address in the summer, speak to him and just propose the future that we want — and that’s it. Now, I just want players focused and only focused on performing and getting the best out of them for the team.

“I think he has been in really good form for months now. I think he is sustaining that level. He is scoring goals and providing the team with something different as well.

“His work-rate has been phenomenal and it is what we want. We need those type of players hitting the best level when we want to have the chance to do that, because over the course of the season we have been missing goals, we have been missing that creativity in the final third and we need those players to step in and make the difference for the team.”

Arsenal face champions Liverpool on Saturday evening with doubts over Emile Smith Rowe due to a hip problem and Bukayo Saka battling to recover from a hamstring issue.

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