Arteta: Arsenal must strengthen imbalanced squad

Mikel Arteta has admitted on the eve of the new Premier League season that Arsenal's squad is imbalanced and the club are still actively looking to strengthen before the window closes next month.

Arsenal have more than 33 first-team players on their books and are looking to offload several including Matteo Guendouzi, Lucas Torreira and Mesut Ozil.

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Other players including Hector Bellerin and Emiliano Martinez have been linked with moves away from the club and although they are without five central defenders due to injury, Arsenal have eight in their squad.

"Number-wise, some positions are overbooked," he told a news conference. "Some others are in terms of the specific qualities we need, they are still not there.

"It is going to be very difficult to achieve what we want in one or two windows. It is a process, it has to be evolving and most importantly it has to be a sustainable model that we can consistently fit in, as well of course using our academy players.

"We are still active in the market; we are looking at different options. We are active in the market with players in and out, at the moment the squad balance is not ideal and what we want to achieve.

"There is still some work to do but we have to bear in mind the complications of this market. The complexity and as well the timing because you can see that clubs are behaving in many different ways and it is a bit uncertain how this is going to evolve in the next few weeks."

Arsenal are continuing to explore the possibility of signing Lyon's Houssem Aouar and Atletico Madrid's Thomas Partey although no agreement is close in either case.

Regardless, they head into the new campaign -- starting on Saturday at newly promoted Fulham -- with fresh optimism having added the Community Shield to their FA Cup success.

However, Arteta warned it was too early to declare the old Arsenal had returned, as proved on their last visit to Craven Cottage in October 2018 when they won 5-1 under Unai Emery and the away fans chanted "we've got our Arsenal back."

"I think it is premature as well, depending on how old that Arsenal is that we are talking about, for example the Invincibles," he said.

"It is great -- we were able to win two trophies, you know we changed quite a lot of things at the club, certainly things look brighter, in my opinion.

"But there is still a long way to go, the gap that I always talk about is still there and we have to make sure that we fill that in this season as much as possible."

Meanwhile, Arteta has dropped the strongest hint yet that Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has signed his new contract by insisting Arsenal fans can feel "relaxed" about the situation.

Sources have told ESPN that the 31-year-old has agreed a new three-year deal worth £250,000-a-week plus bonuses with a formal announcement expected imminently.

Arteta has repeatedly suggested Aubameyang would commit his future to the club, stating after the Gunners beat Chelsea in the FA Cup Final on Aug. 1 that his confidence an agreement would be reached.

"I can say that I am even more confident than I was at the end of last season," he added. "I am really optimistic, yes. With Auba, I think they [the fans] can be pretty relaxed."