Arsenal must be ‘in the conversation’ for Kylian Mbappé, says Mikel Arteta

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Mikel Arteta says Arsenal should be “in the conversation” for the signature of Kylian Mbappé after the striker’s summer departure from Paris Saint-Germain was confirmed, even though Real Madrid remain favourites to complete a deal.

Mbappé’s contract expires in June and he has informed PSG that he will leave at the end of the season, either by running down his deal or extending it and earning his employers a transfer fee. Real are long-term suitors but an agreement is yet to be struck with the player and his representatives, theoretically leaving the door open for an English club to step in.

“When there is a player of that calibre we always have to be in the conversation,” Arteta said, before referring to Real’s interest. “But … it looks to be in a different way.”

Asked whether that meant Arsenal were involved in any discussions about Mbappé he replied: “I am not! Maybe Edu [the sporting director] and the owners are, but I am not in those conversations until the last stage.”

Arteta did little to play down the idea he would jump at any opportunity to sign Mbappé, reiterating that players of his stature should always be mentioned in connection with an upwardly mobile Arsenal. “Why not?” he said. “If we want to be the best team, we are going to need the best talent and the best players, that is for sure.

“Everybody wants to play for Arsenal. The players we have held discussions with, they always have that smile on their face the moment you open the door and start to have that discussion. That is because of our history and everything we have done in the past as well.”

Arsenal will have to make do with their existing squad, which has won four consecutive games at an aggregate of 16 goals to two, when they face Burnley at Turf Moor on Saturday. Arteta suggested that some of Gabriel Jesus, Emile Smith Rowe, Oleksandr Zinchenko, Takehiro Tomiyasu and Fabio Vieira may be ready to return from injuries; he also said Thomas Partey, out with a thigh problem since October, was “progressing really well” and could be back within a fortnight.

Arteta had praise for his good friend and former Manchester City colleague Vincent Kompany, saying 19th-placed Burnley had been “really unlucky” at points in the season. He spoke of his own side’s appetite to see their title campaign through to a successful conclusion. Arsenal are third, two points shy of the leaders, Liverpool, and believe they have grown stronger since tailing off in 2022-23.

“It’s the most important part of the season,” Arteta said. “We know that every fixture will play a significant part in what we want to achieve. We have learned a lot of things from last season.”

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Arteta expressed concern for Roy Hodgson, the Crystal Palace manager, who was taken to hospital on Thursday after falling ill. “Hopefully he is feeling much better,” he said. “If that’s the case, and knowing Roy, I think he will be in tomorrow because he loves it so much. But we all got really worried with the situation and hopefully he is fine.”

One of Arteta’s assistants, the highly rated Carlos Cuesta, is a target for more senior roles at Norwich and other Championship clubs for next season. Arteta described any interest in his coaches as “a really good sign that they’re doing a really good job” and said he would not stand in the way of Cuesta, or any of Arsenal’s staff, if he wanted to progress his career.

“If that’s their will, you cannot do that – I wouldn’t, no,” he said. “I think everybody needs to feel that there is a path, there is a development plan. People don’t want to do the same thing for three, four, five years. There is a way to incentivise people, to inspire people, and then to explore. Because you don’t really know the limit of a person unless you expose him to certain things. I think curiosity is a really important quality that we have within our young staff.”

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