Mikel Arteta has revealed he is trying to resolve what he sees as a “cloud” of varying issues hanging over his Arsenal forward options.
Alexandre Lacazette and Eddie Nketiah have been sharing responsibilities up front in recent weeks for the Gunners, alongside Gabriel Martinelli, but both are out of contract in the summer.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has also missed the last four games because of internal disciplinary action, which has seen him stripped of the captaincy and forced to train away from the first-team squad.
Those inconsistencies and absences mean Arsenal head to Norwich on Boxing Day with midfielder Emile Smith-Rowe as their top scorer this season with eight goals in all competitions.
The Arsenal manager said: “We have a cloud and the cloud is there. At the moment we’re not able to change it.
“We’re working on it to try to make it as small as possible and as clear as possible but it’s the situation we are in because contracts have details, the timing of them is tricky and we are trying to resolve it.”
Arteta is not ruling anything in or out on the future of Lacazette, who has stepped in to captain the side in Aubameyang’s absence despite his contractual situation, or Carabao Cup hat-trick hero Nketiah.
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Both players have been the subject of media speculation but Arteta says transfers, given the length of time remaining on their contracts, could prove to be out of his control.
“It depends on every single case, depends on the player’s situation, the minutes he’s playing, his willingness or the offer that you have, but it’s something that you have to consider,” Arteta added.
‘I’m not being dictatorial or ruthless’
The doubt over Lacazette and Nketiah’s futures are further complicated by the situation surrounding Aubameyang, whose disciplinary issues reportedly stemmed from a late return from Gabon where he was visiting his ill mother.
But Arteta dismissed claims of being a dictator as he said: “I don’t establish my authority by being dictatorial or being ruthless.
“I just ask for respect and commitment. At this level, if I don’t get that I pack my bags and go somewhere else because that is the minimum I can ask for.
“I am sorry but I am going to expect that from everybody who works for the club. First of all myself, and the day I don’t do that I walk through that door and go and do something else. It is as clear as that.
“To be successful you have to be passionate about something and you want to represent a club of this size with its history, that is the minimum standard you have to bring.
“I am not going to ask anybody to put the ball into the top corner every time they hit it, but I will ask them to do the right things every single day for this club. That is for sure.”