Football: Arsenal must begin Aubameyang contract talks imminently, says Arteta

Arsenal's Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang applauds fans after a match. PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON (REUTERS) - Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta said he is determined to keep hold of captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and urged the club to open discussions with the Gabon striker over a new contract before the end of the season.

British media reported Aubameyang could leave the Emirates Stadium in search of Champions League football next season, with his current Arsenal deal expiring in 2021.

"We will have to do that (contract talks) at some stage before the end of the season for sure," Arteta told a news conference on Thursday.

"We will see the intentions that we have, his intentions, and where we are sitting at that moment.

"For me, it's very easy, I want to keep him in any circumstances." Arsenal's hopes of securing Champions League qualification would appear slim as they head into the Saturday's league encounter with West Ham United sitting 10th in the table.

Arteta, who replaced fellow Spaniard Unai Emery as Arsenal manager in December, conceded it was difficult to plan for a long-term rebuilding job in the current circumstances.

"I have very clear ideas in terms of what I would like to do in terms of the squad, in terms of certain individuals and how we can improve the team, but obviously the case or scenario (is something) we don't know," the Spanish coach added.

"It's going to depend on what we do this season and what happened in the last few seasons is going to have a big impact as well."

Arsenal's Lucas Torreira will miss the West Ham clash after he fractured his ankle against Portsmouth in the FA Cup fifth round on Monday.

"He was quite positive this morning. I spoke with him and he was in pain," Arteta added.

"We don't really know exactly the extent of the injury. He needs to see the specialist tomorrow here in London and we will know more about it."

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