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Sokratis Papastathopoulos hints at Arsenal exit

Sokratis Papastathopoulos hints at Arsenal exit
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The 31-year-old opened the scoring with a fine finish in Monday night's 2-0 FA Cup fifth-round win at Portsmouth.

Sokratis Papastathopoulos insists he will not "sit" on his contract at Arsenal and would look to move on if he becomes disillusioned at being out of the team.

The 31-year-old opened the scoring with a fine finish in Monday night's 2-0 FA Cup fifth-round win at Portsmouth – with Eddie Nketiah wrapping up the tie early in the second half.

However, Sokratis has been left out for plenty of recent matches as new Gunners head coach Mikel Arteta has preferred David Luiz and Shkodran Mustafi at the heart of his defence.

Three of his last five starts have come in the unfamiliar position of right-back, including at Fratton Park, and he has not been named in a Premier League starting line-up since January 11.

Sokratis moved to the Emirates Stadium from Borussia Dortmund in 2018 and has a contract that runs until the end of next season.

But he has hinted he would potentially look to move on before then if he is not part of Arteta's plans moving forward – with Pablo Mari making his debut at centre-back on Monday and William Saliba set to join from St Etienne in the summer.

Having previously said he would leave when his contract expired in 2021, Sokratis suggested that could change.

"I don't know," he replied when asked if he would leave next year.

"I have one more year here but me, I never sit on my contract.

"I don't care. If I'm not happy, I don't play enough or the coach doesn't like me, I don't care about the contract.

"For me the money is not important, it is important I feel good, I feel happy and the team is happy with me. If not, I take the road and I finish.

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"I don't think about it, I think every day to be happy and help the team and in the end we will see but what I say is that I am not a player who sits on a contract – I don't need it."

The victory at Portsmouth will have helped to eradicate some of the gloom surrounding Arsenal following their shock Europa League exit at the hands of Olympiacos last week.

Arteta admitted he had taken a risk making nine changes on the south coast but that some of his players were still suffering a hangover from the European defeat.

"It's a result that gives you a little bit of confidence back," Sokratis said of the Pompey win.

Arsenal head coach Mikel Arteta made nine changes to his team at Portsmouth.
Arsenal head coach Mikel Arteta made nine changes to his team at Portsmouth (Adam Davy/PA)

"Now we understand that first when you have three things (trophies) to fight for and lose one that last year you made the final in, it's hard.

"The first thing the manager said to us is that this game finished and we have to look forward.

"We still have a lot of a games in the Premier League but it is difficult and this year we didn't start very good."

Sokratis hit a fine volley to give Arsenal the lead in first-half stoppage-time after Portsmouth had started the game well.

Manager Kenny Jackett made six alterations of his own with one eye firmly on the Sky Bet League One promotion race.

"If we'd have gone in level at half-time then it would have given us that little bit more to go for," defender James Bolton said.

"But I thought the lads produced a good performance and there was a lot of talent on show for Arsenal.

"The aim has always been promotion and the gaffer's rested a few players because the next few games are massive for us."

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