sport

Supporting role suits Nacho

Spain defender Nacho Monreal is happy to play a supporting role as Arsenal go all out to end their season on a high.

The 26-year-old has settled quickly following his 8.5million deadline day transfer from Malaga, helping the Gunners keep clean sheets in victories over Stoke and Sunderland which boosted hopes of breaking back into the top four.

Monreal, who scored his only goal for Malaga in his final appearance last month, intends to continue going on about his job behind Arsenal's impressive forward line.

"I am asked to defend well and not so much to score goals. When I go forward and assist others, it is as if I have scored, so that is a great satisfaction for me," Monreal told Arsenal Player.

"It is difficult to say what your own qualities are, but I am a committed person and so give 100 per cent in every game.

"That is the best attribute that every footballer can have, that every Saturday you give everything you have got for your team."

Arsenal host Blackburn in the fifth round of the FA Cup on Saturday, and Monreal would love nothing more than to end his first campaign in English football with a medal around his neck at Wembley.

"One of the things any player wants is trophies," said Monreal, whose first full game for the senior Spain team came after their 2010 World Cup triumph.

"I cannot complain about my career, but I would like to win a trophy and I hope I can do this with Arsenal."

Monreal's arrival to offer competition for England full-back Kieran Gibbs, who is still sidelined by a thigh problem, saw Andre Santos fall further down the pecking order at Emirates Stadium.

The Brazilian has returned to his homeland on a loan deal with Gremio.

The 29-year-old was signed from Fenerbache for 6.8million in August 2011, but made just 26 appearances.

Santos feels the short-term move will work well for all parties.

"I am confident this is the best for both Arsenal and myself," he said on the club's official website.

"I just want to say a big thanks to all the people that helped me at this wonderful club.

"I wish all the best for the team for the remainder of this season and of course, I'll be following the team from Brazil.

"Finally a special thanks to all the wonderful Arsenal fans who supported me during this period here at Arsenal. I leave not with a 'goodbye', but with a 'see you soon'."

Santos clearly feels he still can be part of Arsene Wenger's plans in the long-term.

Speaking in a separate interview with the London Evening Standard, he added: "The idea is to go there, play well and be able to come back strong. Do I have a future at the club? For sure.

"This is a loan deal and after this season we will see where everything stands.

"I always wanted to stay at Arsenal until the end of my contract. This is a club where I feel comfortable and honoured to play.

"However, when the club acquired another left-back it was clear to me that I will not play. I need to play, get my confidence back and Gremio is a good platform for this.

"I talked (with Wenger) and we decided together this would be a good chance for me to get on top of my game.

"He gave me a hug and told me Arsenal would always welcome me back with open arms.

"He did (want me to stay), but he wanted to see me happy and if I am not performing all the time, then I am not happy."

Santos spent three months on the sidelines after suffering an ankle injury during a Champions League tie at Olympiacos in December 2011.

He added: "Things did not work out as well as I expected. I am not satisfied.

"Hopefully, when I am back, I will be on top of my game and then I will be able to help the team the way I want to."

Arsenal, meanwhile, remain hopeful midfielder Jack Wilshere (thigh) and Laurent Koscielny (calf) will shake off their fitness concerns ahead of next week's Champions League last 16 first leg clash against Bayern Munich.

Both could be rested for the FA Cup tie, while Thomas Vermaelen is expected to train this week after missing the last two matches with an ankle problem.

With Monreal ineligible for Europe, Vermaelen could be asked to fill in at left-back against the Bundesliga giants.