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Arsenal would love to get Henrikh Mkhitaryan off their wage bill despite the claims that the Armenian has demanded the north London club sell him being branded “fake news”. That’s according to Goal’s Charles Watts.
Mkhitaryan is widely expected to depart the Gunners on a permanent basis this summer after a season on loan in Rome.
Having produced six goals and four assists in 20 league and cup games for the Serie A outfit, Roma are keen to keep him.
And Corriere dello Sport had claimed that Mkhitaryan has now privately told Arsenal: “My time in London is over.
But the player’s agent, Mino Raiola, responded on social media on Thursday morning: “Mkhitaryan did not send any message to Arsenal.
“Specially in times like these, fake news are completely unacceptable.”
Yet Arsenal, reporter Watts claimed in a transfer update on his YouTube channel, would like to sell the attacking midfielder.
The north London club will hope to bring in around £10million for the Armenia international, who is said to only earn less than Mesut Ozil.
Watts claims Mkhitaryan is on £200,000 a week at the Emirates – the same salary as star striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
He adds that if there is a deal to be done with Roma then Arsenal will look to get a deal done to send the former Borussia Dortmund playmaker to the Stadio Olimpico full time.
Arsenal are not expected to seek a like-for-like replacement with Mikel Arteta instead most keen to sign a central defender and a defensive midfielder.
Instead, academy graduates such as Joe Willock and Bukayo Saka – who has impressed as an emergency first-team left-back – could be trusted with more minutes in the attacking third.
Speaking back in February, Arteta admitted Saka is “not a full-back” and that the teenager “has a lot of courage to make decisions in the final third”.
Yet Nigel Winterburn actually believes the Spanish coach should consider keeping the attacker as a full-time left-back.
Winterburn told The Chronicles of a Gooner podcast: “I think he has [a future there]. It’s a completely different role, the full-back role, to when I first started. But I think he that role suits him really well.
“I don’t know whether he wants to go and be a wide-left player, a winger in the future. That will be discussion that’s open, maybe he’s open to both positions if needed.
“If you look what he’s achieved, I remember going to cover a game for the under-23s, Freddie Ljungberg was in charge at the time, I managed to have a quick chat with him about players coming through and who he thought would be the player who would make the step through into the first team eventually and be a huge hit.
“Saka was the one that was talked about. In terms of what he’s done at left-back, it’s absolutely incredible.
“He’s adapted and what I think it gives him and what I love that he’s doing, it’s given him freedom moving forward and coming onto the ball and he’s almost not being marked.
“He’s so dangerous when he’s in possession of the ball and his quality of crossing in some of the balls he’s put in for some of the goals has been absolutely sensational.
“There’s no doubt in my mind if Arsenal wanted to and Mikel Arteta wanted to keep him in that position and work with him, then he’s going to become stronger and stronger.
“Because defensively he’s going to improve and you just keep working on your game going forward. To me, he’s been an absolute sensation in that position.”