Mikel Arteta says Arsenal must keep developing players from the academy if they want to continue “evolving”, following a breakthrough in contract talks with Bukayo Saka.
90min confirmed reports on Thursday that Saka has agreed the terms of a new long-term extension at the Emirates Stadium, all but ending fears that he could be lured away by Premier League title rivals Manchester City.
Asked about the news in Friday’s press conference, Arteta praised the club for taking a major step in securing Saka’s future.
“That’s what we have to do,” Arteta said. “That’s our responsibility, to keep our best players and our best people, and the people with the same aims and purposes as the club, to keep them together, to keep evolving and become a better club.
“[Bringing young players through the academy] is part of developing a team, developing a squad, and taking the club to where we want to be.”
With Saka the centre of attention, Arteta was then asked whether he has any concerns over a lack of protection from referees towards the 21-year-old, whose rise to prominence has coincided with an increase in fouls on the talented winger.
Arteta declined to criticise the officials and instead encouraged Saka to keep working on ways to protect himself during matches.
“I’m sure refs want to protect every game,” Arteta said. “There is a lot of focus on Bukayo, but we need to focus on what we can do as a team. Of course, the referees also have a job.
“He’s hopefully not [one kick away from injury]. We have to train that, when to take certain balls, when to run, when to jump.
“We cannot control what the opponents are going to do, or the referee in a split second. We need to help him become a better player.”