Stephan Lichtsteiner Says He Could Leave Arsenal Despite Talks over New Contract

Christopher Simpson@@CJSimpsonBRFeatured ColumnistMarch 22, 2019

LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 21: Stephan Lichtsteiner of Arsenal  during the UEFA Europa League Round of 32 Second Leg match between Arsenal FC and Bate Borisov at Emirates Stadium on February 21, 2019 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Chloe Knott - Danehouse/Getty Images)
Chloe Knott - Danehouse/Getty Images

Arsenal defender Stephan Lichtsteiner has said that while there have been discussions of a new contract at the club, he could leave in the summer in search of more game time.

The Switzerland international signed a one-year deal when he joined from Juventus last summer.

He told Neue Zurcher Zeitung's Samuel Burgener and Michele Coviello (h/t Goal): 

"There have been talks. We have to see if it suits both sides. Arsenal is a big club, I feel very happy. But I want to play regularly with regard to the European Championships.  It was OK this year. But if the coach says that he no longer counts on me, I have to worry."

Lichtsteiner has made 21 appearances in all competitions for the Gunners this season.

Fellow right-back Hector Bellerin had surgery in January after rupturing his anterior cruciate ligament, with the club expecting his recovery to take between six and nine months, per The Independent's Jack Watson.

As such, the Gunners could be short of cover there at the start of next season should Lichtsteiner move on this summer.

However, the veteran, who turned 35 in January, has struggled to impress at the Emirates Stadium.

He's as experienced as they come, having won seven Serie A titles in as many years at Juventus, but age has noticeably caught up with him.

In February, Lichtsteiner played 90 minutes in the Premier League for the third time as Arsenal lost 3-1 to Manchester City, in which the Sky Blues repeatedly targeted him as the weak link in their defence.

His performance generated plenty of reaction on social media:

Mattias Karén @MattiasKaren

Lichtsteiner is the ultimate reminder that going for the cheap option often ends up costing you more than paying for quality.

Tom Kinslow @TomKinslow

Lichtsteiner should have one of those curtains placed around him like when a race horse breaks a leg on the track. #MCIARS

Leanne Prescott @_lfcleanne

Lichtsteiner is too slow for the Premier League.

Frankie Hobbs @Frankie_Hobbs

So hard to believe Lichtsteiner played for one of the best teams in Europe for so many years. One of the worst defenders we’ve ever had

Opta statistician Orbinho also provided some damning evidence against the Swiss:

Orbinho @Orbinho

Arsenal's win percentage with Stephan Lichtsteiner on the pitch at some point 36%. When we don't see him, it's 71%.

Improving their defensive capabilities should be among Arsenal's priorities this summer.

While that will largely involve recruitment of new signings, it seems letting Lichtsteiner move on might also help in that regard.

As for the player himself, he might find a new club who can give him the game time he desires more than the Gunners.