Stephan Lichtsteiner Says It Will Be 'Quite Difficult' to Stay at Arsenal

LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 05: Stephen Lichtsteiner of Arsenal  during the Premier League match between Arsenal FC and Brighton & Hove Albion at Emirates Stadium on May 05, 2019 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

Catherine Ivill/Getty Images

Arsenal defender Stephan Lichtsteiner said he thinks it will be “quite difficult” for him to stay at the Emirates Stadium after the end of the season.

The 35-year-old joined the Gunners from Juventus on a free transfer in summer 2018 and said he could depart north London after the UEFA Europa League final, according to James Olley at the Evening Standard.

“I see it being quite difficult to stay but we are going to see what happens. I don’t know anything. The only important thing is the Europa League Final now.

“I really want to win this cup and bring this club back to the top level, back to the Champions League and winning important titles.”

Lichtsteiner signed a one-year deal when he arrived at Arsenal, and the club have the option to extend his contract for another 12 months, per Olley.

The Swiss defender has made 23 appearances in all competitions for Unai Emery’s side this season but has struggled to impress, and it would be little surprise if he were to depart the club.

Jack Rosser at the Evening Standard noted that his performance in the Gunners’ 1-1 home draw to Brighton & Hove Albion highlighted the club’s need to strengthen their defence:

Lichtsteiner joined Arsenal as back-up to Hector Bellerin, whose season was ended prematurely in January after he suffered a ruptured cruciate knee ligament against Chelsea.

The club offered an indication of just how long the Spaniard may be out:

Bellerin’s injury has seen 21-year-old midfielder Ainsley Maitland-Niles also feature in defence, and he has said he is ready to challenge Bellerin for a first-team spot, according to James Benge at Football.London.

“I’m still adapting to [the position], but the manager and coaching staff are helping me a lot at the moment. My best qualities are going forward, creating. I’ve spoken to the manager, and he seems to think the same as me. When Hector comes back, maybe it’ll be a good challenge for me and him.”

Arsenal’s defence has been a real weakness this season, as Emery’s side have conceded 51 goals in the Premier League and finished outside of the top four.

The Gunners can still secure Champions League qualification if they beat Chelsea in the Europa League final, but the club need serious investment in their back line if they are to challenge for silverware and break back into the top four.

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