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Arteta on Odegaard contract, facing Everton and Pepe leaving

Nicola Pearson, BBC Sport

Mikel Arteta has been speaking to the media before Arsenal's Premier League match against Everton on Sunday.

Here are the key lines from his news conference:

  • Arteta confirmed all players away on international duty had returned fit and trained, including Bukayo Saka. He also confirmed Thomas Partey has a muscle injury, but is "progressing well".

  • After reports Martin Odegaard could be set to sign a new contract, the Arsenal boss said: "He's our captain he's a massive player for us. Really important for now and the future. We want to keep him here for a long time. I'm always optimistic. We're really close with him and his agent. Whenever that's confirmed we will announce it."

  • On facing his former club Everton, he said there is a "big emotional attachment to the club", but that he still "wants to beat them".

  • Having struggled to win at Goodison Park, he said: "We've been here and before I came in, grounds that for 17 years we hadn't won, we've done it, so it's just understanding the importance and what we lacked in those games to try to put it right and do it."

  • On the challenge of playing Champions League football this year, he feels the "demands are different", but added: "It's excitement. This is where we want to be. When you look at the fixtures and the games that we have to play, I think everybody's really looking forward to it."

  • After Declan Rice's start to the season he feels "it's been really positive" how quickly he has adapted, adding: "He's finding it really easy. I think he understood the team and our way of playing really, really fast and things are going well for him."

  • On lessons to learn from the signing and release of Nicolas Pepe, he said: "I wasn't involved in the process of that deal. What I can say about him as a person is that he's a phenomenal boy. He tried really hard. It is not his fault the amount of money that we paid at the time and that's it. When things are not working, you have to move on."

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