(Reuters) - Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta on Wednesday urged his players to ignore talk of a potential takeover at the club and focus on overcoming Villarreal on Thursday to reach the Europa League final.
Arteta's side suffered a 2-1 defeat in the first leg of the semi-final at Villarreal last week. But the build-up to the match was dominated by takeover speculation after Spotify CEO and founder Daniel Ek expressed interest in buying out current owner Stan Kroenke.
Kroenke and his son and director Josh have said they remain committed to Arsenal despite facing backlash from the fans over their involvement in the ill-fated European Super League project last month.
Arteta, meanwhile, emphasised the importance of winning the Europa League, which would also guarantee qualification for next season's Champions League.
"We have to try to be away from all of the rumours and everything that is happening around the club," Arteta told a news conference.
"We have to focus on the pitch because the best way to help the football club is to win football matches.
"It's a massive game for the club and if we win we will be much closer to getting a trophy. Winning always helps for the future - it is the best way to prepare for anything."
Some Arsenal fans want the Kroenke family to sell the club, and thousands took part in demonstrations before the club's home game against Everton last month.
More protests are expected before the match on Thursday, but Arteta said it would be great if the supporters could also cheer his team when they arrive at the Emirates Stadium.
"We've been missing them (fans) so much. We need them and for the players and the team to feel that they are right behind them supporting them," Arteta said.
"I think it is the 10th time the club has played a European semi-final, so it's a big moment for us, so hopefully we can have them closer than we have already in the last few months."
(Reporting by Hardik Vyas in Bengaluru; Editing by Hugh Lawson)