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Mikel Arteta "really happy" with Jorginho amid contract uncertainty

Mikel Arteta
© Reuters
Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta insists that he is "really happy" with Jorginho's contributions as the midfielder runs down the final few months of his Gunners contract.

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta has refused to confirm whether Jorginho will still be at the club next season, but he has affirmed that he is "really happy" with the Italian's contributions.

The former Chelsea man was a late arrival in the January 2023 window to provide cover to Thomas Partey and Granit Xhaka after Mohamed Elneny suffered a season-ending knee injury.

Jorginho made 24 appearances for Arsenal in his first half-season at the Emirates, scoring one goal and setting up two more, and he earned nine Premier League starts in the heart of Arteta's engine room.

However, the Italy international has only played a peripheral role in the 2023-24 campaign due to the additions of Declan Rice and Kai Havertz, who have normally linked arms with captain Martin Odegaard in the midfield triumvirate.

Jorginho has been restricted to just five Premier League starts this season, although his most recent appearance from the first whistle against Liverpool saw him take home the Man of the Match award from that 3-1 success.

Arsenal's Jorginho in action with Chelsea's Conor Gallagher on October 21, 2023© Reuters

The 32-year-old made three interceptions and two tackles in the middle of the park, while he also topped the standings for accurate passes (45) and passes into the final third (24) as he dictated the tempo throughout.

Jorginho is currently due to become a free agent at the end of the season and is free to open talks with foreign clubs, although his Emirates contract does include a one-year extension option.

The ex-Napoli man has been tipped to return to Serie A during the latter stages of his career, but he is also doing his coaching badges with Arsenal's Hale End academy and recently obtained his UEFA B licence.

Speaking to reporters ahead of Sunday's Premier League London derby with West Ham United, Arteta was asked whether Jorginho's terms would be extended, but he avoided answering the question directly and simply talked up the experienced midfielder's on-field qualities.

"I'm really happy with him, that's all I can say. When we imagined what he could bring to the team and how we could make us better, he's doing exactly that or even better," Arteta said at his press conference.

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta celebrates after the match on February 4, 2024© Reuters

"The contract situation is for Edu and the board to manage. But his application, and the capacity he has in the big matches to affect the game is tremendous and he was really good against Liverpool again."

Jorginho could be in line for a second successive Premier League start at the London Stadium on Sunday, as Arteta remained tight-lipped on the fitness of striker Gabriel Jesus, who missed the win over the Reds with a new knee problem.

With Jesus sidelined, Havertz assumed centre-forward duties at the Emirates - allowing Jorginho to earn a rare start in the engine room - but Arteta also has Leandro Trossard available to start up top or in a deeper role.

The Gunners boss also did not reveal whether Oleksandr Zinchenko (calf) or Asian Cup returnee Takehiro Tomiyasu would be fit for the derby, but Bukayo Saka - who suffered a blow to the ankle last weekend - is expected to be given the green light.

Arsenal sit third in the Premier League table with 49 points on the board from 23 games, two fewer than leaders Liverpool and only behind Manchester City - who have a game in hand - on goal difference.

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