Bacary Sagna has made it plain that his focus is on the forthcoming season at Arsenal, as he looked ahead to a "new start" at the club after the misery and disruption of two broken legs.
The France full-back has entered the final 12 months of his contract and, having failed to agree to fresh terms, he has been linked with a move away. Clubs in France and the Middle East have expressed an interest in him, with Arsenal prepared to offer him only a one-year extension. The 30-year-old wants a longer deal.
But, in spite of the uncertainty and the prospect of him leaving as a free agent next summer, Sagna is ready to show his commitment to the Arsenal shirt for one more season, at least.
"I enjoy playing for Arsenal," Sagna said. "I love my team, and I always give my best. I'm still here. Many people were talking about me going back to France but I'm still here and I'm looking forward to a big season with Arsenal.
"Last season was difficult. I only had one year left and people were looking at that and maybe thinking I would leave. But I tried to stay as calm as I could. Now I will work hard in pre-season and have a good season for Arsenal."
Sagna's first leg break came in the north London derby in October 2011 and it ruled him out for four months, while the second was at home to Norwich City in May last year. It meant that he had no pre-season last time out, he missed the opening two-and-a-half months and some of his subsequent performances fell below his usual standard.
"It's been very difficult for me physically," Sagna said. "I was out for four months. I went out to Qatar to do my rehab, then I came back and had to start all over again. It was not easy because the injuries take a lot from you. But I'm looking forward to coming back, being at my best and helping the team again. I'm looking forward to the new season and a new start."
Sagna's hopes for the season are high, particularly as the club push for a marquee summer signing. Arsène Wenger is juggling moves for three strikers – Liverpool's Luis Suárez, Wayne Rooney of Manchester United and Real Madrid's Gonzalo Higuain, with the former his priority target. Arsenal have had an offer of around £30m rejected by Liverpool but they are prepared to go higher and they believe that £40m might prove acceptable.
Wenger has been told that the fee is available for a move that would shatter the club's transfer record, which remains the £15m that he spent on Andrey Arshavin in 2009, and so are the wages. The manager said on Wednesday that Arsenal could even afford to accommodate Rooney who, with earnings of £250,000-a-week, takes home more than Suárez. Arsenal's increased financial firepower is down to renegotiated commercial deals. They are conscious, however, of the problem in paying the very top wages to a new signing, which is that the squad's existing stars begin to demand parity or massive rises.
"I believe that we can challenge for the title with a couple of good signings," Sagna said. "We beat great teams last year, we managed to be one of the best teams in the second half of the season and if we can be consistent for the whole season, I believe we can be successful.
"If I had the solution as to what went wrong last season, I would have given it. I think it's a question of desire and, in some games, being over-confident because we know we have the players and the quality. We just have to find consistency and the belief to get success. Every team is strengthening and we can strengthen, too, but it's more about us caring on the pitch and showing the commitment. That will take us a long way."
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image: © Ronnie Macdonald