Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta says he was “the solution, not the problem” in his relationship with former Gunners striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
The 32-year-old was stripped of the Arsenal captaincy after his “latest disciplinary breach” in December.
The striker said “it was a problem just with [Arteta]”, when he joined Barcelona on a free transfer last week.
Arteta responded on Wednesday, saying: “I’ve been the solution, 100%. I can look in the eye of anybody.”
The Gunners’ boss added: “I do a lot of things wrong, for sure – the intention all the time is the best and not for me, it’s for the club and the team.
“I’m extremely grateful for what Auba has done at the club and his contribution since I have been here. The way I see myself in that relationship is the solution, not the problem.”
Arteta confirmed that French striker Alexandre Lacazette will be the Arsenal captain till the end of the season, when the 30-year-old’s contract is due to expire.
Asked about Gabon international Aubameyang saying Arteta was the problem, the Spaniard replied: “That’s his opinion – that’s what he said and you have to respect that.”
Arsenal paid a then-club record £56m to sign Aubameyang from Borussia Dortmund in January 2018 and he was under contract till 2023, but the club allowed him to leave without a transfer fee.
“It ended up the best possible way for everyone, I think – when things change, and the context changes, this is part of football,” said Arteta.
“What we did yesterday or a month ago is not relevant. You have to make a decision that the best thing to do is let him move on and now he plays for Barcelona.
“We have had different kinds of meetings but it was a decision taken collectively with the club, the player and his agent.”