Mikel Arteta has no doubts Alexandre Lacazette will give his all to Arsenal as questions over his future remain, insisting “anything is possible” when it comes to the striker signing a new deal.

Lacazette’s contract expires at the end of the current season and the 30-year-old is free to speak to foreign clubs from January.

The France striker has played just 72 minutes of Premier League football this season but he grabbed a last-gasp equaliser off the bench in Monday’s 2-2 draw with Crystal Palace.

Lacazette will now be pushing for a start when Aston Villa visit the Emirates Stadium on Friday night.

While there is no new offer currently on the table, Arteta is not worried by Lacazette’s work ethic.

“I had no doubts about that,” he said.

“If I had, probably I would suggest to do something different with him in the summer, when a player could not find the motivation or if his interests are just with his financial future.

“It is not the case with Laca, and he has shown that since I have been here every single day. That’s why he is a really important player for us.”

Arteta also pointed to the fact Lacazette’s deal is not an isolated case given they gave captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang a bumper pay rise last year, opted to pay off the likes of Shkodran Mustafi and Mesut Ozil and will still be looking to tie players such as Bukayo Saka down to better contracts in the near future.

“It is the situation that we have and we have to accept it,” Arteta said.

“I cannot ask anything from the player, the way that he is dealing with that situation, and it is not an individual situation.

“It is a situation that has a knock-on effect because of others we have to deal (with), as well in the past and still now, to see what the best option is going to be for everybody at the end of the season.”

He added that those circumstances did not mean it was a certainty that Lacazette would leave for free next summer.

“No, I wouldn’t say that. Anything is possible,” said Arteta.

“It depends on a lot of things, it is not just a matter of being willing it is about being possible to fulfil that will and when, which is very important as well.”

“It’s a problem that occurs at every club because the contract has the length and the players have certain ages and certain phases in their career. It’s something common that you have to be able to deal with.”

Bukayo Saka could miss the Villa fixture through injury.
Bukayo Saka could miss the Villa fixture through injury (Tim Goode/PA)

It remains to be seen if Lacazette will be rewarded for his late goal against Palace with a recall for the Villa clash.

Another player who could miss out is Bukayo Saka, who was forced off at half-time on Monday after being kicked on the calf by James McArthur.

Arteta said after the game he felt the Palace midfielder was lucky to escape a red card but was coy when asked about Saka’s chances of being back in time to face Villa.

“We have two or three players that finished the game with some issues,” he said.

“He (Saka) hasn’t trained yet so we have to assess him and see how he is. It is down to the doctors and see how he recovers, see how he is today and tomorrow.”

While Saka’s inclusion is in doubt, fellow academy product Emile Smith Rowe is likely to retain his place in the side.

Emile Smith Rowe
Emile Smith Rowe is expected to keep his place (Nick Potts/PA)

The England Under-21 international was a summer transfer target for Villa, who had their interest – and an offer – firmly rebuffed by the Gunners, with Arteta insisting Smith Rowe was never close to leaving north London.

Asked if he was ever worried the playmaker would leave, Arteta replied: “No.

“Any club has the right to make an enquiry about a player. If they believe they have the financial power to get him, they are entitled to do that.

“There was that communication between the clubs. We made it really clear that Emile was not for sale. And that’s it.

“He is a big part of what we are trying to do, a big part of our future. He is really happy where he is and I am delighted to have him in the team.”