Moussa Sissoko is reportedly desperate to leave Newcastle United ahead of next season and has set his sights on a move to Arsenal.
Despite avoiding defeat in their final six matches of the 2015-16 campaign, Newcastle were unable to escape the bottom three and will play in England’s second tier from August.
But Sissoko, 26, does not intend to be there as he targets an immediate return to the Premier League away from St James’ Park.
“It’s flattering that a coach like [Rafa] Benitez wants to keep me, but I think he knows what I want. I want to leave.
“It would be difficult for me to play in the Championship. I have to keep on developing. I have the ambition to play for one of Europe’s finest and keep playing for the national team.
“I would like to continue my career in England at a club that plays in the Champions League. My representatives and I will listen to all offers and make the best decision together.
“It is flattering that Arsenal are apparently interested in signing me. It is proof of my quality. I hope that I get the chance to play for this club or another club of their stature.
“Arsenal are a very big club in Europe. I think very few players would be able to reject them. Everybody knows that Arsenal have always been my club. We will see what happens. I cannot say that I will go to Arsenal.
“I have not spoken with Newcastle personally. My representatives have been in charge of that. I hope the club will not cause any problems.
“I have given everything for this club for three and a half years. I hope that they understand I need to play at the highest level. I have to join another club for that. There will be talks and I hope they understand my point of view.” Sissoko told Foot Mercato.
Sissoko has made over 100 Premier League appearances for Newcastle since joining the club in January 2013.