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Stuff that matters

Mikel Arteta says Arsenal will address the in-form Alexandre Lacazette’s future this summer, and has suggested their prospects of offering him a new contract will hinge on the team’s performance between now and the season’s end.

Lacazette’s displays have been patchy across much of Arteta’s tenure, during which he has faced competition for the centre-forward spot from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Eddie Nketiah. But he has started the past two games, scoring a match-winning penalty against Tottenham and a dramatic equaliser at West Ham, and Arsenal’s attacking play tends to look more cohesive when the former Lyon forward’s hold-up skills are deployed up front. If the Community Shield is discounted, he sits level on 13 goals with the more widely feted Aubameyang.

“The situation with Laca we will address in the summer, speak to him and just propose the future we want and that’s it,” Arteta said of Lacazette, whose deal ends in June 2022. Lacazette turns 30 in May and Arsenal, whose participation in Europe next season is in the balance, may find their room for financial manoeuvre limited in pre-season given the pandemic has hit them particularly hard. Roma, Sevilla and Atlético Madrid have been credited with interest in Lacazette.

“Everything is related to where we are, how much we win and where we are playing next season,” Arteta continued. “There are no exceptions and we all need to be clear with that, with the context we have right now in our industry.”

Arteta did agree, though, that Lacazette is playing some of the best football of his Arsenal career. “I think he has been in really good form for months now,” he said. “He is sustaining that level, scoring goals and providing the team with something different as well. His workrate has been phenomenal and it’s what we want.

“We need those types of player hitting the next level because over the course of the season we have been missing goals, that creativity in the final third.”

The Fiver

A smiling Arteta sidestepped the question of potential Arsenal interest in Sergio Agüero, whom he coached at Manchester City. “We will see what happens with him in the future,” he said, although a move for the 32-year-old, who will leave City this summer, seems unlikely.

Arsenal host Liverpool, two places and four points above them in seventh, on Saturday night in a match that looks pivotal to their hopes of securing Europa League football via the domestic route. They are waiting on the fitness of Bukayo Saka, who missed England’s World Cup qualifiers with a hamstring injury, and Emile Smith Rowe is a doubt after hip discomfort ruled him out of England Under-21s’ match against Croatia on Wednesday.