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'It will be difficult to stay' - Lichtsteiner set to leave Arsenal in summer

12:58 BST 14/05/2019
Stephan Lichtsteiner Arsenal 2018-19
The Gunners' veteran defender is keen to help his team win the Europa League but is resigned to leaving the Emirates Stadium after that

Arsenal defender Stephan Lichtsteiner expects to leave the club this summer at the end of his 12-month contract.

The 35-year-old right-back started 19 games following a free transfer from Juventus that raised eyebrows in some quarters last summer.

He was given a one-year deal with an option of a further year but it appears he is set to depart after the Europa League final against Chelsea at the end of the month.

“I see it being quite difficult to stay but we are going to see what happens,” he is quoted as saying by the Evening Standard.

“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 had a solid Serie A career with Lazio and then Juve and was recruited largely as back-up for right-back Hector Bellerin.

But the emergence of Ainsley Maitland-Niles as a player who can fill in as a wing-back or right-sided defender means Lichtsteiner is set to be squeezed out.

He does, however, wants to leave on a high after the disappointment of Arsenal missing out on the Premier League's top four.

The Gunners can qualify for the Champions League by beating Chelsea and winning the Europa League in Baku on May 29 and Lichtsteiner added: “It is hard. Five weeks ago, we were in the perfect situation.

"We gave too many easy points in our away games. We were also a little bit unlucky but we have to ask more from ourselves.

"At the end, of course, with so many games and the Europa League and everything, we lost a bit of energy in the last games.”

Meanwhile, Arsenal manager Unai Emery still does not know if “political issues” will prevent him from selecting Henrikh Mkhitaryan in the Europa League final.

The Gunners have expressed concerns over the safety of the 30-year-old ahead of a trip to Baku due to the political tension which exists between Azerbaijan and the midfielder's native Armenia.