Mikel Arteta remains ‘totally focused’ on leading Arsenal to Premier League glory this season amid rumors that Real Madrid want him to replace Carlo Ancelotti.
Arsenal are five points clear of Manchester City at the top of the English top flight in pursuit of their first title since the 2003-2004 season.
Arteta was widely praised for his performance at the Emirates Stadium during his third full season, with a report from Spain saying on Wednesday that Madrid could make a move.
Ancelotti is said to be under pressure as Madrid head coach despite leading the club to a double in La Liga and the Champions League last season.
However, when asked about the speculation ahead of Arsenal’s first leg in the Europa League round of 16 against Sporting, Arteta said he didn’t think much about it.
“These are things that managers or players cannot control, what is written,” he said at a pre-match press conference on Wednesday.
“What I can tell you is that I am completely focused on what I am doing here and am extremely proud and grateful for what I am doing at this football club. That’s all.”
Meanwhile, this morning in London’s Colney… pic.twitter.com/fP8SoIGntU
— Arsenal (@Arsenal) March 8, 2023
Arteta’s attention will switch from the Premier League to the Europa League on Thursday when Arsenal take on Portuguese heavyweight Sporting CP at the José Alvalade Stadium.
It’s the Gunners’ third of six games in 18 days, but Arteta has hinted he won’t change his squad for the European fixture.
“We have one team and we have to play games with the best players to win it,” he said. “There were times when we made eight changes.
“We are trying to adapt. Throughout the season, players have moments when they are available and when they are not. We will definitely try to choose the best team to win the game.
“Of course everyone wants to play. This is also true when we wanted to change players who were injured and unavailable. Tomorrow it might be.
“Sometimes it was difficult and the players had to earn the opportunity to play by the minute. Being honest in football is very difficult.
“You have to be very good at communicating your decisions to help the players understand what you are doing, but at all times you have to think in favor of the team.
“We want everyone to feel important and we will try to make them feel that way.”
Gabriel Jesus attended training ahead of the match against Sporting but Arteta didn’t say much when asked if the striker would be able to take the field for the first time since November.
“News on the detachment will be tomorrow,” he said. “We’ve brought in a few players and you’ll see who’s free.”
Asked if Kieran Tierney, Leandro Trossar and Eddie Nketiah are available, Arteta replied: “Let’s see how they develop.
“We’re trying to accommodate everyone and make sure they’re in the best possible position for tomorrow.”