English Premiership

Sokratis hints at Arsenal exit

Sokratis Papastathopoulos (PA Images)
Sokratis Papastathopoulos (PA Images)

London - Sokratis Papastathopoulos has insisted he will leave Arsenal before his contract expires if he does not get more game time under Mikel Arteta.

The 31-year-old Greek defender opened the scoring in the Gunners' 2-0 win away to third-tier Portsmouth in the fifth round of the FA Cup on Monday.

But that was a comparatively rare outing for Sokratis, who has often been left out by Arteta, with the Arsenal manager preferring David Luiz and Shkodran Mustafi as his first-choice partnership in the centre of the Gunners' defence.

Three of Sokratis' last five starts, incluiding Monday's match at Fratton Park, have come in the unfamiliar position of right-back and he has not been named in a Premier League starting line-up since January 11.

Sokratis joined Arsenal from Germany's Borussia Dortmund in 2018 and his contract with the north London club runs until the end of next season.

But he indicated he would not run down his present deal if he failed to gain more first-team action under Arteta.

"I don't know," he replied when asked if he would leave next year.

"I have one more year here but me, I never sit on my contract.

"I don't care. If I'm not happy, I don't play enough or the coach doesn't like me, I don't care about the contract.

"For me the money is not important, it is important I feel good, I feel happy and the team is happy with me. If not, I take the road and I finish.

"I don't think about it, I think every day to be happy and help the team and in the end we will see but what I say is that I am not a player who sits on a contract -- I don't need it."

Victory on the south coast maintained Arsenal's hopes of finishing the season with a trophy following their shock Europa League exit at the hands of Olympiakos last week.