Mikel Arteta says that Arsenal's achievements between now and the end of the season will have a major impact on how the club can operate in the summer transfer market.
Wednesday night’s defeat at Manchester City left the Gunners ninth in the Premier League, a position that would not be good enough to secure Europa League football next season.
But they are still just five points off fifth-placed Manchester United and with a top five-finish potentially good enough for a spot in the Champions League next season, depending on the outcome of Manchester City’s appeal against their European ban, there is still plenty to play for.
And with money exceptionally tight at Arsenal due to the crippling effect of the coronavirus pandemic, Arteta is well aware of the importance of securing European football next season - not just for his summer transfer plans, but also in convincing the likes of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Bukayo Saka to sign new contracts and having to avoid trying to replace them.
“What we do today or in the next five weeks will have a big impact on what we have to do in the summer,” said Arsenal’s head coach, who wants to add Atletico Madrid midfielder Thomas Partey to his squad for next season.
“We have to put a plan [in place] to improve our squad, that’s first, fulfil the ambitions that we have, have the right players to support the talented young players that we have.
“They are still in the very early stages of their development and we have to know that, but we don’t have time. The demands of this football club are huge and we cannot stay still. We have to change things, we have to improve them.
“The most important thing is not about keeping [the players], it is about improving them, convince them of what we are trying to do and get them performing and winning football matches.”
Arteta added: “There is a lot of uncertainty in how the transfer market is going to look. You hear very different things and people are going to go all in, clubs are already spending a lot of money and others may be much more conservative and wait to assess the situation before they move.
“Our position at the moment is that we have to see and be cautious. Our ambition is still intact and I know from the owners that their ambition is still intact as well. We will try and do our best to improve the squad, maintain the players we want to maintain and move forward."
Arsenal head to Brighton on Saturday without David Luiz, who is suspended following his sending off at Manchester City on Wednesday night.
Granit Xhaka is also expected to miss out due to the ankle injury that forced him off after just five minutes at the Etihad Stadium.
Both are key figures in the dressing room and Arteta has called on some of his other senior players to step up in their absence and help the team bounce back from their disappointment in midweek.
“Some leaders appear when others go and that is the responsibility,” said the Spaniard. “We know how the dressing room has to be managed, what type of people you need. You need a balance and obviously you need some leadership.
“You are talking about two players (Luiz and Xhaka) that are natural leaders, but there are many ways to be a leader. We have other people that have to step up, even if those two aren’t here.
“It is one of the things that in our club culture has to be implemented and they have to understand how important that is as well.”