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Arsenal boss Arteta wants Messi to seal Man City transfer even though it means strengthening Premier League rivals

MIKEL ARTETA can’t hide his excitement at the prospect of Lionel Messi coming to the Premier League with his former club Manchester City.

The Arsenal boss has been closely monitoring developments at Barcelona since Messi stunned the club with his transfer request.

Ambitious City are leading the chase for the Argentine superstar and Arteta says: “If Messi comes to England we’re all going to enjoy it.

“I have been a Barcelona fan since I was a young boy and it’s sad to see the best player in football history leaving that club.

“He has been linked with more clubs than any other player in the world but even if he comes to one of our Premier League rivals it will be good for football.

“If you want to have the most competitive league in the world you need to have the best players. And in my opinion Messi is the greatest of all time.

“I remember the times I played against Cristiano Ronaldo when he was at Manchester United and it was great for all of us because he helped to raise the level of every individual and every team.”

 

Messi actually rejected the chance to join Arsenal in 2003 when he was asked to accompany Cesc Fabregas from Barcelona’s La Masia academy.

But Arteta is confident that Arsenal will have their very own superstar going into the new season as the club closes in on a new contract agreement with captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

Last season’s 29-goal top scorer has still not put pen to paper on a new three-year deal worth £250,000-a-week.

He is now into the final year of his current agreement but Arteta insists it is only a matter of time before the £56million striker commits his long-term future to the club.

He said: “I keep being positive because we have had some really good talks with him and his agent and I am pretty confident that we’re going to find an agreement soon.

“My feeling is that he should be very happy if he’s able to stay at Arsenal for a long time and I think people will be delighted with that news.”

Arteta is facing a race against time to reshape his squad after winning the FA Cup final four weeks ago but trailing home eighth in the Premier League.

Willian and William Saliba have already been added to the squad and the club are putting the final touches to Gabriel Maghaeles’ £27million move from Lille.

Arteta said: “Well see what shape we’re in by the end of the transfer window.

“Everything in the market looks pretty slow at the moment and not many teams are moving aggressively so a lot of things are going to happen between now and October 6.

“But it doesn’t matter who we have because we will be challenging for the top, 100 percent.

“It’s not been long since we beat Liverpool and that win gave us a big platform in terms of the confidence to challenge the teams at the top level and beat them.

“Since that result we have also beaten Manchester and Chelsea in the FA Cup so I think the Liverpool game was the moment when everything clicked and the team went into more of a belief mode.”

It is understood that up to four players including goalkeeper Emi Martinez have been delayed in returning to training this week by the UK’s quarantine restrictions.

Arteta admitted: “We’ve been through all the different moments with the restrictions and rules from the government and Premier League testing. 

“It’s all so unexpected what is going to happen from day to day but we are trying to adapt and to get the team in the best possible shape to compete on Saturday.

“But we’ve only had two training sessions and this game comes right in the middle of our mini pre-season, so it’s not an ideal moment to play.”

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