Belfast Telegraph

Experienced Lichtsteiner will be a top Gunner both on and off pitch, insists Emery

By Mark Mann-Bryans

Arsenal head coach Unai Emery believes new signing Stephan Lichtsteiner will improve the club both on and off the pitch.

The Switzerland captain became the first new recruit since Emery took charge following the departure of Arsene Wenger last month as it was announced yesterday he was joining on a free transfer from Juventus.

Lichtsteiner, 34, won the Serie A title in each of his seven years with the Italian giants and signs for the Gunners ahead of leading his country into the World Cup in Russia next week.

While the signing may not raise the excitement levels among the Arsenal fan-base, Emery feels Lichtsteiner could offer something invaluable to the club.

"Stephan brings huge experience and leadership to our squad," he said.

"He's a player with great quality with a very positive and determined attitude. Stephan will improve us on and off the pitch."

Lichtsteiner, who will wear the number 12 shirt and compete with the likes of Hector Bellerin for a place in Emery's side, is targeting a return to the Champions League with Arsenal - who have failed to qualify for the competition in the last two years.

"It is a great moment for me, after Juventus, to come to Arsenal," he said.

"It is a project to come back into the Champions League, it is hard to see a club like Arsenal that is not playing in the Champions League if you see the players, the club, the stadium. The big objective is to come back on the highest level.

"It was a big era under Wenger, he won a lot of titles with Arsenal and did big things, now it is a new moment.

"Wenger went and everything is a bit new so it is a big challenge. He (Emery) is a very good coach and won a lot of titles.

"He is a coach who knows what he wants and who also progresses the players, also the old players like me. I'm really positive we will do great things."

Borussia Dortmund defender Sokratis Papastathopoulos is also believed to be close to agreeing a move to the Emirates Stadium, with Marouane Fellaini also linked with the London club.

The Manchester United midfielder is out of contract at Old Trafford at the end of the month and his representatives have held talks with one of United's Premier League rivals.

It is understood the Belgium international is favouring an exit from United having started just two league games in 2018.

Belfast Telegraph

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