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Mikel Arteta: 'European football important for Arsenal'

Mikel Arteta: 'European football important for Arsenal'
© Reuters
The Gunners made sure of a place in the Europa League next season by defeating Chelsea in the FA Cup final.

Mikel Arteta admits winning the FA Cup and qualifying for the Europa League was a “must” for Arsenal.

Despite finishing eighth in the Premier League, their lowest finish since 1995, the Gunners will still play in Europe next season following a 2-1 win over Chelsea in Saturday’s FA Cup final.

While Arsenal now face a fourth consecutive season out of the Champions League, missing out on continental qualification altogether would have left Arteta in a difficult position.

Not only would it have been harder to convince his stars, including captain and FA Cup matchwinner Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, to stay but attracting new signings would also likely prove a challenge.

Asked about the importance of qualifying for Europe, Arteta replied: “I didn’t want to add too much pressure to the players to be fair as I know how important it was as we needed to be in Europe.

Arsenal v Chelsea – Heads Up FA Cup Final – Wembley Stadium
Mikel Arteta knows the value of the FA Cup win to Arsenal (PA)

“It is a must for our club and financially because it is a bigger step forward in order to allow us to do more things in the future and have a better structure financially.

“I am very pleased for both things – winning the trophy and having the option to play in Europe.”

Arteta has seemingly been growing in confidence in recent weeks that Aubameyang, who scored both goals to cancel out Christian Pulisic’s early strike for Chelsea, will sign a new contract.

Arsenal have also been linked with the likes of Thomas Partey of Atletico Madrid, a loan move for Barcelona’s Philippe Coutinho and most recently Sevilla defender Diego Carlos.

Arteta revealed he has already passed his plans on to Arsenal’s hierarchy ahead of a busy season, which is now set to begin with the Community Shield against Liverpool on August 29.

“I need to enjoy this moment first,” he added.

“It is a big relief and I am really happy. We had some very demanding months so I need to switch off a little bit.

“I have presented my vision and my plans to them and all together we will try our best to get the club in the best possible position.”

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