Arsenal star Rob Holding had team-mates in stitches after he asked for cider at swanky London restaurant Nobu – The Sun

ROB HOLDING has revealed his move from Bolton to Arsenal was a real culture shock – and he tried ordering a cider in swanky London restaurant Nobu.

The 24-year-old defender headed south in 2016 and had to adjust on and off the pitch.


Holding made a great start on the pitch and ended his first season as a fans' favourite with an FA Cup winners' medal.

But when neighbour and former Gunners team-mate Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain took him and a few others on a night out shortly after Holding arrived in London, the former Trotter was out of his comfort zone.

He said: “We went to Nobu in Mayfair and obviously I am just a normal northern lad – and they were ordering a round of drinks.

“I’m like ‘do they have cider?’ And they looked at me like, ‘what?’ “So I just said ‘I’ll have another one of whatever you’re having’.

“When the food came it was all raw fish. I’m not really a fish fan at the best of times, let alone raw.

“It was funny, the difference. They were like ‘God, you are northern!’

“Luckily, he (Oxlade-Chamberlain) took the bill, but I’m sure I’ve paid one since then.”

Holding began his Arsenal career really well, starting the first three Premier League matches, but by his own admission, his performance levels inevitably dropped in his maiden top-flight season.

And he worried about the impact the extra scrutiny would have – not on him, but his mum and dad.

He added on Bolton fans' podcast The Lion of Vienna Suite: “I dealt with it better than my mum and dad, to be honest.

“I had a start, three games where I’d got a good reputation, people were surprised at how well I was doing. But then the adrenaline dropped and I didn’t perform quite as well and the scrutiny starts instantly.

“I just thought that if I can’t take the good with the bad then I am not going to take any at all.

“My mum and dad found it so hard not to read it up in Manchester.

“You watch Match of the Day – as I have every weekend growing up – and all of a sudden you are being scrutinised on there and you think ‘when did this happen?’”

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Arsenal news LIVE:

ARSENAL fans are eager to see their team in action once again as Project Restart draws nearer.

It's just over a fortnight until the Gunners are set to face Man City on June 17, while we've also the very latest on their approach for Ryan Fraser.

Follow all the latest updates from North London below…

  • CRY NO MOUR

    Jose Mourinho has told players worried about the season restarting to stop being selfish and get on with it.

    The Tottenham boss admitted last week he was worried about players getting injured by the rush to resume the campaign.

    But after the Government gave the green light for the Premier League to return on June 17, the Special One seems to have changed his mind.

    He said: “We shouldn’t be selfish, we shouldn’t demand too much. It’s our time to give.

    “Everyone has pre-season injuries in normal seasons so we cannot expect now not to have an injury here and there.

    “We cannot ask for more than the authorities are giving us, which is maximum security.

    “I think now it’s time just to play and to give people what they want.”

  • HOOPLESS WITHOUT IT

    Tony Cascarino reckons Arsenal need a Michael Jordan-type character to get the best out of Mesut Ozil.

    He said on TalkSPORT: “You have to be real on this, because when you pay someone a huge indifferent salary compared to everyone else at a football club, he has to make the difference on the field.

    “So that’s going to come with criticism, as much as you might think it’s unfair and some people think it’s bullying, it carries a price.

    “When you watch The Last Dance and you see how Michael Jordan got more out of a player, you sort of think you wish Arsenal had that type of player to get more out of Mesut Ozil.

    “Not just the manager, but a player sitting next to him in the dressing room who might be thinking you’re not doing enough.”

  • GUNNERS ROUND-UP

    After another busy week of preparation, it now looks likely that the Premier League will be returning on June 17.

    Arsenal will face Man City on that date, knowing that three points would take them above North London rivals Spurs into eighth place.

    In the transfer market, Ryan Fraser’s move to the Emirates has moved a step closer after he signed up with Mikel Arteta’s agent, according to the Mirror.

    The Bournemouth winger has left long-term representative Jon McLeish and will become a free agent on July 1.

    Arsenal are confident of landing the left winger, who had 15 assists and eight goals last season, on a Bosman.

    In the long-running Thomas Partey saga, the Gunners are reportedly still the side “most interested” in signing the Atletico Madrid star.

    Partey has been repeatedly linked with a move to North London but talks surrounding a deal appear to have been pushed back by the outbreak of Covid-19.

    Spanish media outlet AS suggest that before the coronavirus crisis, the Gunners and boss Mikel Arteta were ready to stump up the money for the 26-year-old's release clause.

    And finally, TalkSport host Georgie Bingham has labelled the decision to give Mesut Ozil £350,000-per-week as Arsenal's 'biggest mistake of the last 10 years'.

    She said: “Listen, nobody’s career can be all flowers and rainbows and I realise that and I think Ozil has had a really tough time.

    “I also think there are times when he gets hung out for no reason. But I also think it is Arsenal’s biggest mistake of the last 10 years.

    “I think Arsenal were really stupid handing it out and it’s something that we beat them with.”

Source: Read Full Article

Man Utd, Arsenal and Chelsea on transfer alert after Juventus star Federico Bernardeschi reveals Premier League plans – The Sun

FEDERICO BERNARDESCHI could be primed for a move to the Premier League this summer, according to reports in Italy.

Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal are thought to have the winger on their radar ahead of a crucial couple of months in his Juventus career.

Since Maurizio Sarri's arrival at the start of the season, Bernardeschi has featured less prominently than under former boss Massimiliano Allegri.

And he may soon find himself surplus to requirements – particularly with promising midfielder Dejan Kulusevski arriving from Parma.

According to La Gazzetta dello Sport, Bernardeschi will want a move to England if he leaves Juventus.

The 26-year-old reportedly feels ready to test himself in a new country and Premier League clubs are lining up to make an offer.

Potential swap deals involving Juve targets Jorginho and Emerson Palmieri are touted as one route for Chelsea, while he could also become a part of the Old Lady's bid for United star Paul Pogba.

However no decision will be made on Bernardeschi's future, by club or player, until the end of the season.

Source: Read Full Article

Arsenal pros and cons to Philippe Coutinho transfer that will add need for midfield quality but halt youth development – The Sun

I HAVE been intrigued to read several articles of late, linking Arsenal with a move for Barcelona’s expensive 2018 purchase, Philippe Coutinho.

The sceptical among us might think the stories have been created either by his agent or indeed because of who is agent is.


It is no secret that Kia Joorabchian is not only a passionate Gunner, but has also recently been involved in the moving of two of his charges to the club, in Luiz and Soares.

It is hard in some sense to see from the back of which Diamond Club sofa the Arsenal hierarchy might find the money fund the move, if it were a purchase, but a loan is not inconceivable given how keen his parent club are to have the Brazilian off the wage bill.

Source: Read Full Article

7.30am Arsenal news LIVE: Coutinho transfer UPDATE, Sanllehi contact with ‘other clubs’, Kluivert for Mkhitaryan swap – The Sun

ARSENAL are back in training as they prepare for the likely return of the Premier League next month.

And they could be about to complete a double Barcelona deal as they reportedly begin talks with Philippe Coutinho while the Catalans significantly drop their asking price for fellow Gunners target Ousmane Dembele.

Get the latest news, gossip and updates from the Emirates here…

  • GOOD MORNING, ARSENAL FANS 

    Arsenal are back in pole position for Bournemouth winger Ryan Fraser – and still in the chase for Juventus midfielder Adrien Rabiot.

    That's the verdict on the transfer speculation front overnight, with Spurs said to be keen on Scotland star Fraser and Manchester United interested in Frenchman Rabiot.

    The Gunners seemed overwhelming favourites to sign Fraser – until recent reports suggested the 26-year-old had a preference for linking up with Jose Mourinho.

    Now, though, the path once again seems clear for Mikel Arteta to make the pocket-sized dynamo one of his first signings.

    As for the enigmatic Rabiot, he has struggled to maintain a regular place for the Serie A kings this season.

    And the Gunners have been increasingly mentioned over a player who could cost around £27million.

    Spanish outlet  Mundo Deportivo suggest Arsenal are also keen on ex-Liverpool playmaker Philippe Coutinho – if they could tempt Barcelona into an initial loan deal.

    Arteta might baulk at the  £71.5m fee – so he would first want to make sure the Bayern Munich loanee rediscovers the scintillating form he has lost since departing the Premier League in January 2018.

    Chelsea and even Liverpool are also reportedly monitoring the 27-year-old's situation.

    Meanwhile, Arsenal legend Cesc Fabregas still feels angry over Wayne Rooney's “dive” during Arsenal's famous 'Pizzagate' clash in 2004 when Manchester United ended the Invincibles' 49-game unbeaten run.

    Fabregas told ex-United defender Rio Ferdinand on FIVE’s new Locker Room YouTube series: “The emotion was that we lost against a great team, which can happen, but we didn’t feel we should have lost.

    “We didn’t think it was the right time to lose our Invincible run.”

  • PLAY-DAY LOANS: EXPERT VIEW

    As SunSport revealed some Prem clubs might consider payday-style loans, a financial expert involved in this area explains why the sport has arrived at such a situation.

    The specialist said: “Football has lived way beyond its means for years and now they’ve run out of money.

    “It’s like any other market in a downturn, so when you’re desperate for money you go to the people who have it and they dictate the terms.

    “Firms are being asked for loans from clubs who don’t necessarily have the assets to command better rates.

    “Liquidity in football clubs is very low and most of those looking for cash are asking for tide-over money of £30m-50m over six months.

    “There’s no rule to say the lender can’t set whatever rate it likes if they know the client is desperate.”

  • PLAY-DAY LOANS

    Cash-strapped Premier League clubs are considering payday-style loans with huge interest rates to stay in business.

    City investors are looking to cash in on the economic crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic by charging 25 PER CENT on borrowings up to £100million.

    At least four struggling Prem outfits are at the mercy of private equity or venture capitalist firms offering loans at rates massively above the Bank of England base rate of 0.1 per cent.

    Lack of match-day revenue and uncertainty over how and when football will return have created a black hole in revenue for clubs.

    And with games behind closed doors likely in the immediate future, clubs are unable to borrow cash against season ticket sales and normal game-day income.

    They are also discouraged from using potential earnings from broadcast deals as collateral for loans.

  • REVAMPED GUNNERS?

    Here is how the Arsenal team could be laid out in a 3-4-3 formation if they sign Icardi, Coutinho and Fofana.

    What a side this would be!

  • BUK TO THE FUTURE

    Bukayo Saka appears to have told Manchester United and Liverpool they must be kidding if they hope to sign him.

    Arsenal have reportedly been struggling to reach an agreement with speedster Saka, 18, over extending his contract beyond 2021.

    But the ex-Gunners schoolkid posted a cute picture of himself in his very earliest days with the Londoners – smiling serenely as he posed in a teamshot.

    Saka's Instagram snap soon attracted tens of thousands of likes – with, inevitably, many fans urging him to pen a new deal.

  • FIXTURES AND FITTING

    Most clubs are expected to back the Premier League proposals put forward in phase two – including for returning to action next month

    And Sky Sports claim the end of the week could see top flight bosses put forward draft plans as virtually the last step before the season resumes amid the coronavirus crisis.

    That could include a provisional fixture list, including the date when football will officially return.

    June 19 is one date commonly mentioned. But some Premier League clubs want a further week to prepare.

  • PREM CLOSE TO AGREEING RETURN DATE

    THE Premier League's eagerly-awaited return date could be decided this week.

    And a blockbuster clash between Manchester United and Spurs could be the first game back after the coronavirus pandemic.

    Players are already preparing to step up training to include close-contact, with coaches reportedly being brought in to monitor contact.

    Stars and managers can discuss any remaining concerns over phase two of Project Restart when they hold separate video calls with the Premier League on Tuesday.

    On Wednesday, clubs can then vote on whether to move to the next stage of training, which could be brought in before the end of this week.

  • GUNNERS FLYIN' FOR RYAN

    Arsenal are heading Spurs in the race to sign Bournemouth winger Ryan Fraser, reports suggest.

    The Scotland star is available for free when his contract runs out this summer.

    And despite recent talk that the 26-year-old favoured Tottenham, the Daily Mail now say the Gunners are “confident” of signing Fraser.

    He admitted he was flattered to be linked with an Emirates move last year, but also said it had affected his form.

    And before the coronavirus pandemic halted football this season, he had managed just one just one goal and four assists.

  • GAS FUMES AT ROONEY

    Cesc Fabregas still feels angry over Wayne Rooney's “dive” during Arsenal's famous 'Pizzagate' clash in 2004 when Manchester United ended the Invincibles' 49-game unbeaten run.

    The Gunners and Chelsea legend told ex-United defender Rio Ferdinand on FIVE’s new Locker Room YouTube series: “Every single time he had the ball. You know Wayne dived for the penalty against Sol [Campbell].

    “So we felt emotional. The emotion was that we lost against a great team, which can happen, but we didn’t feel we should have lost.

    “We didn’t think it was the right time to lose our Invincible run.

    “So yeah that was the main thing to be honest. Everyone was really, really upset.”

  • CLOSER ENCOUNTERS

    Premier League stars were cleared to kick off close-contact training on Sunday in a boost for the return of top-flight football.

    New Stage Two guidance lets elite athletes train in pairs and small groups and waives the two-metre social distancing rule.

    The news put a smile on the face of Wilfried Zaha as he began Crystal Palace training on Sunday.

    And the easing of restrictions came as just two new positive results returned from 996 Premier League tests last week. They were logged at different clubs and the figure is four fewer than the week before.

    More testing is due today and tomorrow before league bosses decide on Wednesday whether full-contact training will resume.

  • RAUL IN IT TOGETHER

    Gunners' head of football Raul Sanllehi has been holding talks with other club chiefs around Europe to test the waters ahead of the transfer window amid the coronavirus pandemic, according to reports.

    Nobody knows how the market is going to settle when it does open, and how much player transfer fees will fall by.

    One thing is for certain, clubs will be tied into contracts and big-money transfers are simply less likely to happen than in the last few decades.

    Football.London has even speculated that the Gunners could lose £144million if there are no fans at the Emirates in 2020/21.

  • RACE TO GRAB RAB

    United have joined Arsenal in the race to land wantaway Juventus midfielder Adrien Rabiot, according to reports.

    Rabiot, 25, has only managed 11 Serie A starts after struggling to cement his role in Juve's congested midfield.

    And now boss Maurizio Sarri will offload if he receives an offer in the region of £27million.

    According to Gazzetto dello Sport, United are looking to make their move and have already held talks with his mother Veronique who acts as his agent.

    Boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is looking to bolster his squad when the transfer window opens and sees Rabiot as a bargain buy.

    It is also suggested that United have sent scouts to watch him in action on several occasions over the campaign.

  • FO TO MEET FRIEND

    Arsenal could get William Saliba's time at Emirates Stadium off to the perfect start – by immediately reuniting him with Saint-Etienne centre-back partner Wesley Fofana.

    The 19-year-old duo were regulars at the back together in the second half of the 2019-20 campaign – being shown faith by former Leicester and Southampton manager Claude Puel.

    With the Ligue 1 season having been halted because of the coronavirus pandemic, Saliba's loan spell at Saint-Etienne appears to have come to a premature end.

    But that doesn't mean that he is necessarily finished playing with Fofana.

    According to French website But! Football Club, the Gunners have been put on alert by Fofana's breakthrough performances this season and are interested in bringing him to North London.

    Last season Arsenal fought off interest in Saliba from Tottenham Hotspur by allowing the French youth international to stay in France on a season-long loan following the £25million transfer.

  • BLIND DATE

    Clubs are set to find out if the Premier League will resume in mid-June.

    Manchester United and Tottenham are expected to be the clubs given the green light to play the Friday night game which was postponed back in March.

    June 19 is the date being proposed, after doubt was cast over whether June 12 would work.

    Either way it'll be a Friday night game to kick us off.

    According to ESPN, clubs are demanding three weeks of contact football before resuming matches.

  • SHKOD GOALS

    Mustafi wants you to know… he's good (and don't forget the sunscreen).

  • CONCEPT'S A WINNER

    One Arsenal fan has re-imagined the 2002 Double-winning side's kit in a modern iteration.

    It's very impressive indeed.

  • NOT SO SUPER

    The Women’s Super League and Championship seasons have been ended, according to the FA.

    Promotion and relegation are yet to be decided.

  • HOW GUNNERS COULD LINE UP

    Here is how the Arsenal team could be laid out in a 3-4-3 formation if they sign Icardi, Coutinho and Fofana.

    What a side this would be!

  • HANGING ON THE COUT TAILS

    Barcelona are hoping to draw Arsenal into the race to sign Philippe Coutinho, to jack up the sales figure on his proposed £71.5million value.

    Chelsea are known to be interested in the Brazilian’s signature, while he recovers from an operation had during his loan spell at Bayern Munich.

    The German giants do not want to keep Coutinho and that brings Chelsea into the picture.

    But, according to Mundo Deportivo, Arsenal would prefer a loan with a view to a permanent move.

    The claim Raul Sanllehi is “expected to initiate contact” with Coutinho’s agent Kia Joorabchian.

  • JUSTIN TIME

    Arsenal could attempt to force a swap deal with Roma for Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Justin Kluivert.

    The Armenian failed to impress in North London, as was the case during his two-and-a-half year stint at Manchester United.

    The former Dortmund man has impressed this term, with six goals and four assists in 17 appearances for Roma.

    The Gunners are understood to want £10million for Mkhitaryan.

    But including Kluivert, 21, would certainly smooth things over, with the Dutchman scoring seven and providing two assists this term.

  • SHOT IN THE FOOT

    Gary Neville revealed he and brother Phil missed England’s ‘dentist’s chair’ night out before Euro 96 – on the advice of David Platt.

    Boss Terry Venables and his squad were slammed after photos from their trip to the Far East emerged of stars such as Paul Gascoigne and Teddy Sheringham glugging down alcoholic cocktails poured into their mouths as they laid back on a dentist’s chair in one of the city’s rowdy bars.

    Former Manchester United defender Neville said: “We were going to go out to be fair, but David Platt came over to me, Phil, Nick Barmby and Jason Wilcox and said ‘Lads, I’ve been around England squads a long time, I know these lads and tonight is one to miss.

    “So me, Phil, Barmby, Wilcox, Platt and Sol Campbell ended up sitting on our own in this room in the hotel.

    “It was only the day after when the story broke that we realised what David Platt meant.

    “Me and Phil were only 19 and 20 at the time and we weren’t going to go against what David Platt said.”

  • NOT SO FA FETCHED

    Arsenal could get William Saliba's time at Emirates Stadium off to the perfect start – by immediately reuniting him with Saint-Etienne centre-back partner Wesley Fofana.

    The 19-year-old duo were regulars at the back together in the second half of the 2019-20 campaign – being shown faith by former Leicester and Southampton manager Claude Puel.

    With the Ligue 1 season having been halted because of the coronavirus pandemic, Saliba's loan spell at Saint-Etienne appears to have come to a premature end.

    But that doesn't mean that he is necessarily finished playing with Fofana.

    According to French website But! Football Club, the Gunners have been put on alert by Fofana's breakthrough performances this season and are interested in bringing him to North London.

    Last season Arsenal fought off interest in Saliba from Tottenham Hotspur by allowing the French youth international to stay in France on a season-long loan following the £25million transfer.

  • KEN YOU HELP?

    Kenny Sansom’s family have called on his former clubs to support the England legend as he fights for his life.

    The former Arsenal and Crystal Palace defender has been in hospital for five weeks after a violent assault last month.

    His brother and three children have been at Sansom’s bedside virtually ever since as he tries to recover.

    But yesterday a source close to footballer said he was likely to need a lot of support if he was to overcome this battle.

    They said: “With all the money flying around the game, Kenny’s family are hoping that the sport will support him and help him to get back on his feet.

    “They know that nobody owes Kenny anything but he really is going to need all the help he can get.”

  • BRING AND 'BI

    United have joined Arsenal in the race to land wantaway Juventus midfielder Adrien Rabiot, according to reports.

    Rabiot, 25, has only managed 11 Serie A starts after struggling to cement his role in Juve's congested midfield.

    And now boss Maurizio Sarri will offload if he receives an offer in the region of £27million.

    According to Gazzetto dello Sport, United are looking to make their move and have already held talks with his mother Veronique who acts as his agent.

    Boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is looking to bolster his squad when the transfer window opens and sees Rabiot as a bargain buy.

    It is also suggested that United have sent scouts to watch him in action on several occasions over the campaign.

Source: Read Full Article

Arsenal open talks over Philippe Coutinho transfer after Bayern Munich reject chance to extend loan – The Sun

ARSENAL are reportedly set to open talks with Philippe Coutinho’s agent over a deal to sign the Brazilian from Barcelona.

The 27-year-old attacker has failed to shine at the Nou Camp since his move from Liverpool in 2018 and has spent the season on loan at Bayern Munich.

They had the option to turn it into a permanent arrangement for £105m but the German champions’ chief Karl-Heinz Rummenigge has confirmed they have not taken it up.

He said: “The option has expired and we have not exercised it. We will see if the player can still have a role to play with us or not.”

Barcelona are looking to offload a number of players once the transfer window re-opens and the ex-Inter Milan forward is one of those available.

Chelsea have been linked with a move for months, but now Le10 Sport claims Arsenal are positioning themselves to sign him.

They state Mikel Arteta is driving the potential swoop and “dreams” of bringing Coutinho to North London and making him a focal point of his side.

The Gunners have allegedly made arrangements with his representative Kia Joorabchian to thrash out personal terms.

But Arteta’s plans could be scuppered if Arsenal fail to qualify for the Champions League and miss out on the financial reward that comes with it.

Source: Read Full Article

7am Arsenal news LIVE: Kolasinac wife brought stun gun into UK, Aubemeyang PSG interest, Santi Cazorla return LATEST – The Sun

ARSENAL have returned to training in small groups as the Premier League takes its first baby steps towards a restart.

But will Gunners fans ever see captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in the flesh again as PSG prepare to test the water with a £35m transfer bid?

Follow all the latest updates and gossip from North London below…

  • GOOD MORNING, ARSENAL FANS

    Mikel Arteta looked as perky and healthy as ever as the Arsenal boss confirmed both his own recovery from coronavirus and the return of serious training.

    The Spaniard’s positive Covid-19 test in March was the trigger for the suspension of football across the country.

    But Arteta oversaw – from a distance – stars like David Luiz, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Shkodran Mustafi during strictly-controlled, socially-distanced practice sessions.

    Talking of skipper Aubameyang, Gunners fans have been pulling their hair out with frustration this summer – amid continuing stories linking the striker with numerous other clubs – now including PSG.

    But this time the suggestion was that the Gabon superstar had been doing something like that himself – as photos posted by Arsenal showed his lockdown locks in a rather unflattering manner.

    At least speculation over a switch to a major Premier League rival seems to have faded – with Chelsea even briefly mentioned, along with longer-term admirers Manchester United.

    Meanwhile, centre-back Mustafi has been linked with AC Milan – despite his improved form since Arteta took over.

    Todo Fichajes claim the Germany ace, 28, is not part of Arsenal's long-term plan. 

    The Gunners and Chelsea are both said to be tracking 18-year-old full-back Kaan Kurt, who has been playing in the German fourth tier for Borussia Monchengladbach II.

  • STUN GUNNER

    The Wag held for bringing a stun gun into the UK was the wife of Arsenal’s Sead Kolasinac.

    Anxious Bella Kolasinac, 27, bought the weapon for ­protection following a knife attack on her husband and Gunners team-mate Mesut Ozil in the street last year.

    Security fears saw her flee to Germany soon after and she obtained a legal permit there to carry an “electro shocker”.

    But she did not realise the powerful device was illegal in Britain — and yesterday The Sun told how she was held by Border Force officers at London Biggin Hill Airport when it was found in her luggage.

    She could have been jailed for six months for importing a banned weapon but was let off with a caution after the flight from Frankfurt on Sunday.

    A spokesman for Kolasinac, 26, said: “It was all a misunderstanding. The electro shocker was still in its packaging and didn’t have any batteries.

    “Bella was able to prove she sent emails to the flight operators to make sure she could import it.”

  • NO SIGN OF PEPE PAYBACK

    Jeremie Aliadiere has his doubts about Nicolas Pepe's £72million transfer fee.

    The former Arsenal striker said: “I saw what he did with Lille last season and he is an amazing player.

    “So, I’m not denying his talent.

    “What I’m seeing, though, is the most expensive player in Arsenal’s history and even if you don’t want to think about the money, the fact is that money is, unfortunately, a big thing in football.

    “And when you spend that much money on a player, you expect more goals and you expect more assists.”

  • BAYERN DECLINE TO PAY COUTINHO FEE

    Bayern Munich will spark more talk of Philippe Coutinho returning to the Premier League by declining to pay a £110million option to buy the Barcelona playmaker.

    Chelsea, Manchester United, Aarsenal and even old club Liverpool have been linked with the Brazil star, 27, although financial restraints due to the coronavirus pandemic make a summer transfer less likely.

    Bayern chairman  Karl-Heinz Rummenigge told Der Spiegel: “The option expired and “we haven't activated it.

    “Now we're going to draw up squad planning internally (for next season) and we'll see if he still has a role to play with us or not.”

    Coutinho started just 15 of Bayern's 25 games, coming on as substitute eight times, before the Covid-19 lockdown halted football action. 

    But with Barca insisting he could still have a role back at the Nou Camp, he hopes to impress now the Bundesliga has restarted.

  • MIK'S EMOTIONS

    Mikel Arteta led the way at Arsenal training yesterday to show he has made a full recovery from coronavirus.

    The Spaniard’s positive Covid-19 test in March was the trigger for the suspension of football across the country.

    But Arteta was pictured back on the grass at London Colney and Gunners stars David Luiz, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Shkodran Mustafi looked happy to see their fit-again boss again during the social distancing session.

    As Arsenal continued to prepare for Project Restart next month, Premier League clubs have been asked how they want to finish the season in a shock move.

    Officials are keen to know what way the table would be settled if the full 38-game campaign does not end.It is the first step towards a vote on the ideal outcome and one that will get the necessary 14-club backing.

    The plan is still to play on and restart the matches next month, but a date has not been decided yet and the Prem need a set plan if that fails.

  • FUTURE IS UP IN THE PIERRE

    Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang's future seems more up in the air than his air.

    Just as the Arsenal skipper was mocked on social media for his untidy locks on returning to training, so he was being linked with PSG, in addition to longer-term suitors Barcelona.

    The Gabon striker is entering the final year of his contract, although Premier League interest seems to have died down, Manchester United having initially been rated as strong contenders.

  • PREM 'CONFIDENT' OF RETURN

    Premier League chief executive Richard Masters insists they are “as confident as we can be” about restarting in June.

    He said the Prem would be “flexible” about a restart date, having previously targeted June 12 after the coronavirus pandemic halted action on March 13.

    Masters told the BBC: “There is some momentum. We've taken the first step.

    “It's great for everybody, including the fans, to see our players back on the training ground.”

    He said the Prem would learn from the Bundesliga's return last weekend, which went smoothly despite being behind closed doors.

    British football could even be played out to empty stands until next year.

  • SPLIT END OF THE PIERRE SHOW

    Shocked fans have been teasing Arsenal skipper Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang over his post-lockdown hairstyle after the Gunners put out photos of the players back in training.

    The Gabon striker himself seemed to relish the return to practice sessions, albeit strictly controlled and individualised.

    But supporters were less than charitable about less-flattering locks, posting comments in social media like “Lol what happened to Aubameyang” amid coiffure comparisons to Liverpool frontman Sadio Mane.

  • CUT-OUTS FOR SHUT-OUTS

    Three Premier League clubs are interested in having cardboard cut-outs in empty stands when top-flight football returns.

    SunSport understands those behind the new ‘Stay at Home – Be at the Game’ project have held talks with club officials – two sides in the top half of the table – about adopting the concept.

    If those discussions prove successful, then £20 recyclable and water-proof cut-outs could be placed in stadiums when the Premier League resumes in June.

    Some of the money raised will be donated to the NHS in the fight against coronavirus.

    Top US sporting bodies like the NBA and MLS have also shown an interest as international sport looks set to return behind closed doors in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

    It is the brainchild of ingenious German super-fan Ingo Muller, who has organised almost 14,000 cut-outs of fans and season-ticket holders for his beloved Borussia Monchengladbach.

    It will go live to the world when the Bundesliga side face Bayern Leverkusen at the Borussia-Park on Saturday afternoon.

  • GAEL HOWLS AT DEFENCE

    Ex-Arsenal left-back Gael Clichy has slated the Gunners for leaking too many goals.

    Admitting that his spell in North London also saw them concede too many, he said: “Even today’s team they have that quality to score four goals in 10 minutes.

    “Don’t ask me why Arsenal have always been able to do this but they can also even today concede goals for fun.”

  • MILAN'S TAF LOVE

    Arsenal centre-back Shkodran Mustafi is being linked with AC Milan – despite his improved form since Mikel Arteta took over as Gunners boss.

    TodoFichajes claim the Germany star is not part of Arsenal's long-term plan.

    And they say the 28-year-old is on a list of rearguard targets for Serie A giants Milan, who are worried about their poor defensive record.  

  • STRICTLY BALL ROOM

    With the Gunners back in training at London Colney, Arsenal have underlined what a different world it is practicing under the coronavirus lockdown.

    In a statement on their website, they say: Our first-team squad is strictly abiding to the Government protocols which were developed with club doctors, independent experts, players and managers.

    “They will undergo regular testing for COVID-19 and must keep a safe, two-metre distance from each other at all times as they work outside.

    “Only players and key staff are permitted at London Colney at this time.

    Our players must bring their own kit, boots and water bottles with them each day.”

  • GUNNERS WILL BE PATENT

    Arsenal target Willian has reiterated that he is keen to stay at Chelsea for the rest of the season, even if that means playing into July and August.

    The Brazilian, 31, has a contract till June 30, but according to the Athletic the winger will continue at Stamford Bridge no matter what.

    The terms of any short-term deal into July and August are unclear.

    And Willian is wanted by Arsenal and Tottenham ahead of next season, with no shortage of options elsewhere around Europe.

  • KURT-SHIP

    Arsenal and Chelsea are both tracking German teenager Kaan Kurt.

    The full-back has played this season for Borussia Monchengladbach II in the country's fourth tier but has yet to appear for the club’s first team.

    Kurt, 18, who has played at German international youth level right through until the under-19s, mostly plays as an attacking right-back but can also operate on the left.

    He is contracted with Gladbach until 2022 and would cost about £4million.

    Kurt also played three times for Turkey's under-17s and has attracted interest from Fenerbahce.

  • VID-S THE BILL

    Mikel Arteta will look again at signing World Cup star Domagoj Vida to sure up their defence.

    The Gunners’ shambolic defence has been an Achilles heel for three consecutive managers, Arteta included.

    According to Turkish paper Aksam, the required sum to sign the 31-year-old former Dynamo Kyiv ace is just £6million.

    Such experience could be crucial adding some steel to Arteta’s defence with William Saliba set to come in at the end of the season.

    Vida was impressive alongside Dejan Lovren in Croatia's march to the World Cup final two summers ago and had been tipped for moves to one of Europe's big clubs, but he went to Besiktas in the end.

  • BAME CONCERNS

    The Government will today be asked for immediate research on whether BAME players are at enhanced risk by the planned return to contact training, reports MARTIN LIPTON.

    PFA deputy chief executive Bobby Barnes will urge the country’s deputy chief medical officer, Jonathan Van Tam, to intercede and demand proper answers.

    The fears of the players has been articulated by Watford’s Troy Deeney, worried about the impact of potential Covid-19 infection on his five-year-old son.

    Chelsea have also given fearful N’Golo Kante dispensation not to return to training unless he feels confident in his health and safety.

    But while Barnes has previously spoken to Premier League chiefs over the concerns, asking for more research to be undertaken before the green light can be given by the players, the union chief will now press the issue again.

    By going direct to Van Tam at a three-way video meeting this afternoon, also attended virtually by League bosses and medical chiefs, Barnes wants to make it clear that the issue must be properly addressed before players will assent to a full training ground return.

  • ROBERT THE GOOSE

    Ray Parlour has revealed that Arsene Wenger told Pat Rice to stop having a go at Robert Pires, because he would go into his shell.

    Parlour told talkSPORT: “Arsene Wenger knew exactly the characters he could have a go at and the players he couldn’t.

    “I remember Pat Rice, we came in at half-time in one game and Robert wasn’t playing well, and Pat went to have a shout at him…

    “But Arsene Wenger said: ‘No, shut up Pat!’

    “’Keep going Robert,’ he said. ‘Keeping getting the ball, keep trying’.

    “You knew if you had a go at Robert you might as well take him off, because he wouldn’t respond to that.

    “Other players respond to people having a go at them, so as a manager you really have to know the characters you can really have a go at and will respond to it, and Arsene Wenger had that.”

  • GRIEF IS A THIEF

    Jose Antonio Reyes’ heartbroken mum Mari has lost 6st while grieving for the ex-Arsenal star after his tragic death.

    The former Real Madrid winger's dad Paco was speaking to Spanish publication Marca almost a year on from the 116mph car crash that took his life.

    He said: “You can't even imagine [the pain].

    “My only way out is to go to the cemetery at nine in the morning and home again.

    “We didn't leave here [our house] at all. My wife has already lost 6st and she hasn't stepped onto the street.

    “I haven't even seen a football match.”

  • PRICE WAS A TAD DIERE

    Jeremie Aliadiere has his doubts about Nicolas Pepe's £72million transfer fee.

    The former Arsenal striker said: “I saw what he did with Lille last season and he is an amazing player.

    “So, I’m not denying his talent.

    “What I’m seeing, though, is the most expensive player in Arsenal’s history and even if you don’t want to think about the money, the fact is that money is, unfortunately, a big thing in football.

    “And when you spend that much money on a player, you expect more goals and you expect more assists.”

  • ON THIS DAY

    It was 15 years ago that Patrick Vieira lifted the FA Cup after the Gunners beat Manchester United on penalties in the FA Cup final.

    The domestic cup was the last major trophy he won with Arsene Wenger's side.

  • WILL POWER

    Arsenal target Willian has reiterated that he is keen to stay at Chelsea for the rest of the season, even if that means playing into July and August.

    The Brazilian, 31, has a contract till June 30, but according to the Athletic the winger will continue at Stamford Bridge no matter what.

    The terms of any short-term deal into July and August are unclear.

    And Willian is wanted by Arsenal and Tottenham ahead of next season, with no shortage of options elsewhere around Europe.

  • DANI’S DATE

    Has Arsenal midfielder Dani Ceballos revealed the start date for the Premier League?

    The Spaniard, on loan from Real Madrid, has suggested the players are getting ready to restart on June 20.

    The 23-year-old told RTVE: “We are going to start a week late with respect to what is being talked about in Spain, which is June 12, and we are going to start the league on the 20th.

    “Forty-eight hours ago we passed the tests and the truth is that the entire team have given a negative result.”

  • 'TYPICAL ARSENAL'

    Clichy has also described how the Gunners conceded four goals after being 4-0 up at Newcastle in 2011, infamously drawing 4-4 at St James' Park.

    He told Premier League Productions: “This was typical Arsenal.

    “We could go anywhere and play anyone off the park then all of a sudden we could crumble in just a few minutes.

    “We were young, we had plenty of talent but people were talking about what we were missing and maybe that was a bit of experience.

    “We were an amazing team but we lacked character, if you want.

    “Even with a lead of three goals, we could feel the fans pushing and after the second goal I could feel that it was going to be difficult [to win].”

  • LACK AT THE BACK

    Gael Clichy has taken a pop at the current Arsenal squad, saying they still leak goals.

    Admitting that his spell in North London also saw them concede too many, he said: “Even today’s team they have that quality to score four goals in 10 minutes.

    “Don’t ask me why Arsenal have always been able to do this but they can also even today concede goals for fun.”

Source: Read Full Article

5pm Arsenal news LIVE: PSG want Aubameyang for just £35m, Umtiti transfer LATEST, next season’s kit LEAKED – The Sun

ARSENAL have returned to training as the Premier League's restart draws tentatively closer.

And ex-captain Granit Xhaka has said he is desperate for the club to keep current captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, while Samuel Umtiti is reportedly keen on a cut-price move to the Emirates.

Follow all the latest updates from North London below…

  • CE-BYE-OS

    Dani Ceballos would rather fight for his place at Real Madrid than make his loan deal at Arsenal permanent. 

    The Spanish midfielder is on a season-long loan at the Emirates after finding first-team chances at the Bernabeu limited.

    The 23-year-old told TVE on Wednesday: “I am a Real Madrid player … and any player in the world would like to play for Real Madrid,

    “I have a contract with them for three more years and they are the ideal team to succeed.”

  • CHEAP AS CHIPS

    Paris Saint-Germain are weighing up a £35million move for Arsenal contract rebel Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, according to reports.

    The striker is edging closer to the Emirates exit door with just a year left on his current deal.

    Barcelona have been heavily linked with a switch for Aubameyang as they delve into the market for a new striker.

    But it's their European rivals who are braced to make the first move, reports Le 10 Sport.

  • KUM GET ME

    Chelsea are set to beat Arsenal and Everton to the signing of Hellas Verona star Marah Kumbulla, according to reports.

    The 20-year-old Albanian has been likened to Juventus legend Giorgio Chiellini.

    He could cost as little as £18million and, according to Corriere Dello Sport, looks set for a move to England.

  • CROWN ON HIS ED

    Thierry Henry has tipped Arsenal target Odsonne Edouard for a career at the very top, according to Ally McCoist.

    The Celtic forward, 22, has bagged 22 goals in all competitions this year.

    Rangers legend McCoist revealed Henry’s opinions on talkSPORT.

    The Scottish ex-striker said: “I spoke to Thierry Henry at the Liverpool vs Leicester City game and he really rates Edouard.

    “He was saying in France in particular [he is highly regarded] and he personally really, really thinks he’s got a chance of going right to the top.”

  • CROWD PROUD

    Uefa president Aleksander Ceferin expects fans to be back at matches soon.

    He told El Mundo: “I don't like apocalyptic visions that say we should expect a second wave, a third or a fifth.

    “People we know will die one day, but do we need to be worried now? Should we be fearful now? I don't think so.

    “We are ready (to hold the Euros) and we're going to follow the recommendations of the health authorities.

    “I’m absolutely sure that the good and old football with supporters will be back soon.”

  • NEGATIVE IS A POSITIVE

    Dani Ceballos has confirmed the entire Arsenal squad tested negative for coronavirus.

    The midfielder said: “Forty eight hours ago we passed the tests, and the truth is that the whole team has tested negative.

    “We are going to start a week late with respect to what is being talked about in Spain, which is June 12, and we are going to start the league on the 20th.”

  • FOX ON THE BOX

    MTV have reportedly signed up David Luiz and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang for a lockdown version of 'Cribs'.

    The show MTV Cribs: Footballers Stay at Home will be aired on June 1.

  • BURNING RUBBER

    Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang teamed up with F1 star Lando Norris for a virtual Monaco Grand Prix.

    The Arsenal striker revealed he found the course “really, really hard” when trying it out.

  • KIT'S ALRIGHT!

    What do we think of next season's leaked kit, Arsenal fans?

    There has been some mixed reaction on social media to leaked images of next year's Adidas jersey.

  • DANI DOUR

    Dani Ceballos would rather fight for his place at Real Madrid than make his loan deal at Arsenal permanent.

    The Spanish midfielder is on a season-long loan at the Emirates after finding first-team chances at the Bernabeu limited.

    Ceballos has endured a rocky campaign, featuring 24 times for the Gunners before the season was halted due to the coronavirus.

    The 23-year-old told TVE on Wednesday: “I am a Real Madrid player … and any player in the world would like to play for Real Madrid,

    “I have a contract with them for three more years and they are the ideal team to succeed.”

  • BIG RETURN

    Arsenal players are expected back at London Colney today after training yesterday.

    The Gunners are one of the clubs who were initially hit by coronavirus at the start of the pandemic in the UK after boss Mikel Arteta tested positive.

    But the players put in some work in the 28-degree heat yesterday.

    Mesut Ozil and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang were both pictured leaving training.

  • WORTH THE PUNT?

    Arsenal and Manchester United’s eyebrows will surely be raised by the fact that Samuel Umtiti is available for as little as £27million.

    But there are catches: the Frenchman has big wage demands and has had a nightmare with knee problems.

    Umtiti has missed 16 of 27 league games, played three of Barca’s seven Champions League.

    Last season the World Cup winner only played 15 games in all competitions due to complications over a knee injury.

    Umtiti had been in favour before the coronavirus lockdown but there still remain doubts over his long-term fitness.

    Clement Lenglet and Gerard Pique have been the largely-preferred centre-back pairing.

  • BALLS UP

    The Premier League’s big return to training has been hampered — by sticky balls!

    And some players have angrily slammed the Phase One Covid-19 training programmes as “pointless” and “ludicrous”.

    All 20 top flight clubs have now resumed work in strictly controlled sessions as part of Project Restart, which aims to finish the season.

    But the disinfectant that is being sprayed onto balls has reacted in the hot weather, causing the surface to become tacky and affecting movement.

    Some players also claim sessions are not fit for purpose as they build up fitness ahead of a planned match return next month.

    Motivation is already rapidly vanishing because the carefully regulated training sessions are nothing like what they should be doing as professionals.

  • GROUNDS FOR CONCERN

    Arsenal’s transfer plans this summer could be set for a big blow with the club’s owner Stan Kroenke in need of a £408million loan.

    The 72-year-old, who also owns NFL side Los Angeles Rams, has requested the huge figure to help finance their new SoFi Stadium.

    This loan comes in addition to the £327.7m they have already borrowed from the league’s stadium lending programme, states The Athletic.

    Kroenke has asked for 30 years, double the usual 15, to be able to pay the money back, which suggests finances could be a problem for him and the Rams.

    The request will be discussed and given the thumbs up or down at next week’s virtual owners meeting.

    And that, of course, could have a major impact on Mikel Arteta’s hopes of splashing the cash to try and bolster his Arsenal squad.

  • UM AND AHH

    Barcelona are hoping to use Arsenal target Samuel Umtiti as makeweight in a deal for Inter Milan’s Lautaro Martinez.

    Nou Camp chiefs are all-too aware that Diego Godin is 34 years old and, according to Sport, are keen to get the Frenchman’s high wages off the books.

    Both Arsenal and United have been previously linked with Umtiti, 26, who wants to stay in Catalonia.

    Contact between the two clubs has been “non-existent” but there could be an opening for middle men to get a deal done.

    Barcelona are desperate to get hotshot forward Martinez, 22, as their marquee signing this summer, despite various financial problems.

  • HAK'D OFF

    Granit Xhaka admits Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang leaving would be a “great loss” for Arsenal.

    Real Madrid, Manchester United and, most persistently, Barcelona have all been linked with striker Aubameyang, who replaced Xhaka as Gunners skipper last November.

    He told SportBild of the Gabon star’s possible departure: “If that were to happen, it would, of course, be a great loss for the team and the club.

    “Auba is always dangerous and always good for a goal, and as a guy, he’s also really great.

    “He is always positive, optimistic, helpful and very professional.”

  • MORNING, GUNNERS FANS

    Arsenal are planning a £25million summer raid for Borussia Dortmund defender Manuel Akanji – after renewing talks for him in January.

    German outlet FussballTransfers.com allege Gunners officials held concrete discussions with their Dortmund counterparts earlier this year.

    Borussia are said to have blocked the Swiss international's departure after losing fellow central defender Abdou Diallo to Paris Saint-Germain.

    But Arsenal are understood to have contacted Dortmund once more early this year to discuss a possible summer move.

    Meanwhile, Arsenal are interested in swapping Alexandre Lacazette for Atletico Madrid flop Thomas Lemar because of coronavirus, according to reports.

    According to AS, Atletico Madrid are willing to use Lemar as a bargaining tool in order to land top target Alexandre Lacazette.

    At 28-years-old, Diego Simeone and club chiefs believe that the former Lyon forward should be in his peak years and would offer a new dimension to their attack.

    And with both sides lacking funds because of the coronavirus pandemic, a swap deal without cash involved could benefit both parties.

    Finally, Arsene Wenger has called for the January transfer window to be axed as out-of-favour players “give up”.

    The Arsenal legend who is now FIFA's head of global development, has suggested changes to the game in the wake of the coronavirus crisis.

    The Frenchman said: “I am for the abolition of the January transfer window

    “Managers don't deal with this second window well.

    “In October, as soon as a player does not play anymore, he tries to find a solution elsewhere and waits for January to leave,

    “He is no longer mobilised, he gives up.”

  • EXCLUSIVE BY DUNCAN WRIGHT

    Real Madrid and neighbours Atletico are the latest big Spanish club to make it known they are willing to sell some of their stars.

    That is sure to put Premier League giants including Man Utd, Chelsea and Arsenal on red alert.

    SunSport revealed this week how Barcelona have effectively invited offers for all but three of their players as they desperately look to plug a hole in their finances.

    Now it has emerged that LaLiga rivals Real and Atleti are also in the market to offload players as the cost of the Covid-19 crisis begins to bite.

    The top clubs in the Premier League have all been made aware that the two clubs in the Spanish capital are open to do business for the majority of their players.

    Real are still trying to pursue a plan to find the resources to sign Neymar from Paris Saint-Germain, but to do that they would need to bring in a huge amount of funds.

    Gareth Bale is one of those they would be happy to move on to get his £650,000-a-week wages off their books, but others are also available.

    But the problem for the Spanish giants is the value of players is likely to drop markedly when football resumes, and they may not get the kind of fees they would hope.

  • EXCLUSIVE BY DUNCAN WRIGHT

    THE Premier League's big return to training has been hampered – by sticky balls.

    All 20 top flight clubs have now resumed work in strictly controlled sessions as part of Project Restart aiming to complete the season.

    But the coating of disinfectant being smeared on all the balls has reacted in the scorching temperatures across the country, causing the surface to become tacky.

    Some players have complained they are now running slowly on the already dry grass in the few ball drills they are able to enjoy in Phase One of the training programme.

    SunSport has learnt how just two days into the new regime stars are claiming they are “pointless” and “ludicrous”.

    They claim the sessions are not fit for purpose to help them build up match fitness ahead of the planned return to action next month.

  • MAN OF THE PEOPLE

    Arsenal are planning a £25million summer raid for Borussia Dortmund defender Manuel Akanji – after renewing talks for him in January.

    German outlet FussballTransfers.com allege Gunners officials held concrete discussions with their Dortmund counterparts earlier this year.

    Borussia are said to have blocked the Swiss international's departure after losing fellow central defender Abdou Diallo to Paris Saint-Germain.

    But Arsenal are understood to have contacted Dortmund once more early this year to discuss a possible summer move.

  • PIE IN THE SKY

    Granit Xhaka admits he fears Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang could leave Arsenal this summer.

    He told Sport Bild: “If that [Auba leaving] were to happen, it would, of course, be a great loss for the team and the club.

    “After a roller coaster ride, it sounds like he’s settled in for the long-term at the Emirates. He puts that down to the new coach’s influence.

    “He [Arteta] convinced me of his ideas and his philosophy for the number six position and showed me a lot of appreciation,” said the Swiss. 

    “I’m glad that I could pay him back for this trust and I hope for the future that we can still make it into the Champions League and finally play in the international top league again.”

  • GREAT SCOTT

    The government has announced a “renewal taskforce” to help sport return – with ex-England footballer Alex Scott on board.

    Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden wants advice on “how to get sport back safely in a way that works for both clubs, players and supporters alike”.

    And amid gradual easing of the Covid-19 lockdown, he said the government are looking for “new and different ways to get industries back up and running”.

    Dowden added: “Finding creative, crowd-free ways to navigate coronavirus is the biggest challenge for our recreation and leisure sectors right now”.

    But he confirmed the government are looking at a gradual process, rather than a sudden return, and insisted that safety concerns will remain the priority.

  • WINDS OF WINTER

    Arsene Wenger has called for the January transfer window to be axed as out-of-favour players “give up”.

    The Arsenal legend who is now FIFA's head of global development, has suggested changes to the game in the wake of the coronavirus crisis.

    The Frenchman said: “I am for the abolition of the January transfer window

    “Managers don't deal with this second window well.

    “In October, as soon as a player does not play anymore, he tries to find a solution elsewhere and waits for January to leave,

    “He is no longer mobilised, he gives up.”

  • GIFT OF GAB

    Arsenal and Chelsea have reportedly been joined by Real Madrid in the race for Lille star Gabriel.

    Spanish news outlet AS claims the Brazilian centre-back, 22, is now a £30million target for Los Blancos.

    He has enjoyed a great season with Lille in Ligue 1, making 24 appearances.

    Zinedine Zidane’s preferred target is RB Leipzig ace Dayot Upamecano.

    But The Germans are demanding a whopping £54m, while Bayern Munich are also ready to compete for his signature.

    Real are therefore looking at other options and Gabriel is understood to be high on their wish list.

  • LACA INTEREST

    Arsenal are interested in swapping Alexandre Lacazette for Atletico Madrid flop Thomas Lemar because of coronavirus, according to reports.

    According to AS, Atletico Madrid are willing to use Lemar as a bargaining tool in order to land top target Alexandre Lacazette.

    At 28-years-old, Diego Simeone and club chiefs believe that the former Lyon forward should be in his peak years and would offer a new dimension to their attack.

    And with both sides lacking funds because of the coronavirus pandemic, a swap deal without cash involved could benefit both parties.

Source: Read Full Article

10pm Arsenal news LIVE: Zaha wanted over Pepe by Emery, Ozil could have been captain, Torreira wants transfer – The Sun

ARSENAL are still waiting for news on Project Restart as the Premier League looks to get back on its feet.

Meanwhile Unai Emery has revealed that Wilfried Zaha would be an Arsenal player and Nicolas Pepe elsewhere if he had had his way last summer.

Follow all the very latest updates and gossip from the Emirates below…

  • 'HE BEAT US ON HIS OWN'

    Unai Emery says he was desperate to sign Wilfried Zaha but the Arsenal board overruled him and snapped up Nicolas Pepe instead.

    Emery told the Guardian: “We signed [Nicolas] Pépé. He’s a good player but we didn’t know his character and he needs time, patience.

    “I favoured someone who knew the league and wouldn’t need to adapt. Zaha won games on his own: Tottenham, Manchester City, us. Incredible performances.

    “I told them: ‘This is the player I know and want.’ I met Zaha and he wanted to come.

    “The club decided Pepe was one for the future. I said: ‘Yes, but we need to win now and this lad wins games.’ He beat us on his own.

    “It’s also true he was expensive and Palace didn’t want to sell. There were a series of decisions that had repercussions.”

  • PRAY FOR KENNY

    Arsenal legend Kenny Sansom is fighting for his life after allegedly being beaten up in a drunken fight.

    The 61-year-old is being treated at Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital after falling and seriously injuring his head during the row.

    The Mail Online report Sansom has been unable to help police with their enquiries. A tweet from the former England international read: “Kenny is currently ill in hospital. He is being well cared for and does not have COVID-19.

    “Kenny’s family and close friends kindly ask the media to respect his and their privacy, plus that of the healthcare workers treating Kenny.”

  • SHKOD GOALS

    Arsenal defender Shkodran Mustafi has praised Mikel Arteta’s coaching after taking over as Gunners boss.

    The German said: “He's a little like a professor. He knows exactly where he wants the players to be when on the ball and how to react when losing the ball. It's very special.

    “When I pass I am usually only focused on where to be if we lose the ball but he wants me to contribute offensively too.

    “So we constantly need to make an option for the player on the ball.

    “When you are 28 and you play in different countries with other coaches you think you know everything but then he came in and there are things I've never known before.”

  • WILF-FUL THINKING

    Former Arsenal boss Unai Emery has revealed he would have preferred to sign WIlfried Zaha rather than Nicolas Pepe last summer.

    The Spaniard, who was axed in December, told The Guardian: “We signed [Nicolas] Pepe.

    “He’s a good player but we didn’t know his character and he needs time, patience.

    “I favoured someone who knew the league and wouldn’t need to adapt.

    “[Wilfried] Zaha won games on his own.”

  • FIRST DAY

    Thierry Henry has revealed what he said to Arsene Wenger on Cesc Fabregas’ very first day at Arsenal.

    Speaking to Fabregas on Puma Football’s Instagram, Henry said: “I remember the first time you trained with us and I looked at you… I’m sorry I had a bad haircut but that haircut you had was pretty bad.

    “I looked at you and in those days the shirts were too big for anyone but on you it was like you had a dress on it was so big.

    “I looked at the boss and said: ‘Who the hell is this?!’ and he said ‘Oh it’s the kid he won the World Cup with the U17s’ and I went ‘Oh that’s him he finished best player or top scorer or whatever it was’.

    “So I remember people were talking about you. I saw you coming and man… I saw you and then the team it was you against Patrick [Vieira] and Gilberto [Silva] and went ‘oh my gosh all the very best’ but then you started moving the ball around, playing one-twos.

    “People like Patrick and Gilberto couldn’t get near you and that’s when we knew you could play with us straight away. Then you go and score in the Carling Cup and the rest is history.”

  • TOP BAR

    Arsenal have allegedly contacted Inter Milan over Nicolo Barella – a player highly-rated by the legendary Andrea Pirlo.

    The star came through the ranks at hometown club Cagliari and moved to the San Siro on a year-long loan deal with an obligation to buy with a four-year permanent contract kicking in thereafter.

    But Mikel Arteta is keen to try and bring the 23-year-old to the Emirates once the summer window opens.

    In late 2018, Pirlo said of Barella: “He is one of the best players in Italy. So in the national team he has to play.”

  • EASY RVPEASY

    Robin van Persie revealed he left Arsenal for Manchester United as he wanted to play for a team that “knew how to win”.

    The striker only lifted the FA Cup during his eight-year spell with the Gunners from 2004 until 2012.

    He told Premier League productions: “Ferguson made the difference for me in my choice to choose Manchester United.

    “Because of the way he manages, the stories I heard, because of the players that were there.

    “I really wanted to win and when I look at that team of [Ryan] Giggs, [Michael] Carrick, [Paul] Scholes, [Nemanja] Vidic, [Rio] Ferdinand they were all winners, they won it all.

    “I was in that period of my life where I felt like a winner but I wasn't so I had to win.”

  • OUCH

    Ex-Arsenal striker Nicklas Bendtner has revealed how he has lost around £6 million on poker ever since he started playing as a teen.

    But despite his massive losses, the Danish international striker insists he does not have a “problem” although he admits he has lowered his stakes nowadays.

    Bendtner said: “I have lost lots of money – a totally unrealistic amount.

    “I’ve played a lot of poker in my life. I've been playing against a professional poker player since I was 19.

    “It is difficult to put an amount on how much I have lost, but it is around 50 million Danish crowns – £6m.

    “This was on gambling, fun and trouble. I wouldn't say I've had a gambling problem at all. I've always been able to control it.

    “However in the past I played in really big games. One night in London things got out of control, and they could have ended up really wrong.

    “It ended up not so badly. It was something I could have lived with. But from that night on, playing in high-stake games has been over for me.

    “Since then I have chosen to play for far smaller amounts. Now I mostly play for the sake of the game.

    “I’m due to host a poker night with a new group of friends. We just put in 100 crowns – £12 – each.”

  • CHOPSHOT

    Arsenal star Mesut Ozil has revealed the inspiration behind his famous “chopshot”.

    He bounces his shot off the floor as opposed to a conventional chip shot and it has proved successful on numerous occasions.

    The German World Cup winner scored against both Crystal Palace and Bournemouth last season with the manoeuvre and also famously versus Liverpool back in 2017.

    Ozil said: “If I’m running in front of the goal and the goalkeeper is jumping like that, sometimes if you make a chip the defender can run and clear it.

    “If you chip the ball it will go slowly to the goal, if you do it like this it’s still a chip but quicker. “If you do it like that with power so the ball is going over the goalkeeper, don’t forget they are always jumping to the left or right.

    “If you show them you will shoot and they are jumping they will never expect that.”

  • TOR DE FORCE

    Lucas Torreira is keen on a move back to Italy after Mikel Arteta put him in a “bad mood”, his agent has said.

    Pablo Bentancur told Tuttomercato: “Lucas had been in a bit of a bad mood over some technical differences, then he recovered.

    “And the injury arrived, fortunately less serious than expected.

    “Today he is completely recovered, I believe he will be a market man,

    “I will have to speak to Arsenal. The player would love to return to Italy, but it must be acknowledged that Arsenal treated him very well and behaved great.”

  • JOE’S LOVE

    Arsenal starlet Joe Willock has hinted there is no other club he would rather play for.

    The 20-year-old has risen through the academy to become a first-team regular and has clocked up 32 appearances this season.

    Now he has told Soccer Bible on Instagram he could not think of anywhere better for him to play.

    He said: “Playing for Arsenal is a dream come true.

    “It’s my childhood club and a club that I’ve loved ever since I could play football.

    “To play for the first-team is amazing and I can’t wait until we’re winning trophies again and we’re shining at the top.”

  • TAG, YOU’RE IT

    Arsenal's long-term transfer target Nicolas Tagliafico has reportedly told Ajax he wants a move to chase “bigger dreams” in a top league.

    The Argentina ace has evolved into one of Europe's best left-backs since arriving at the Johan Cruyff Arena in 2018.

    Tagliafico has clocked up 38 appearances in all competitions for the Dutch champions this season, bagging five goals and seven assists in the process.

    He shone in Ajax's run to the semi-finals of the Champions League last year but now it seems he is ready to move on to pastures new.

  • TUSCAN SON

    Lucas Torreira would “love” a move back to Italy at some point, according to his agent.

    But Pablo Betancur has warned any potential Serie A suitors the North London club have kept him very happy so far.

    The representative told TuttoMercatoWeb: “I will have to talk to Arsenal.

    “The player would love to return to Italy.

    “But it must be acknowledged that Arsenal treated him very well and he’s behaved great.”

  • SMASH 'N RAB

    Arsenal are reportedly looking to snare Adrien Rabiot away from Juventus at the end of the season with Mikel Arteta a huge fan of the midfielder.

    The 25-year-old – who joined the Old Lady last summer after running his contract down at Paris Saint-Germain – looks set to leave the Serie A side after just 24 games.

    Manchester United are also believed to be interested in luring the Frenchman to the Premier League, with the player keen to play in England.

    And such is his desire to leave Juventus, Rabiot is said to have went on strike in France and is refusing to return to Turin after being left unhappy over his £7million pay-cut.

    According to Italian news outlet Calciomercato, the Gunners are prepared to offer him an escape route out of Juventus.

    They state that the North London giants failed in an attempt to bring the five-time Ligue 1 winner to the Emirates in loan in January after a move was blocked.

  • HEN PECKED

    Thierry Henry joked that Cesc Fabregas’ shirt was too big for him during his first Arsenal training session, aged just 16.

    Henry said in a chat with Fabregas on Puma Football’s Instagram page: “I remember the first time you… I looked at you and in those days the shirts were too big for anyone but on you it was like you had a dress on it was so big.

    “I looked at the boss and said: ‘Who the hell is this?!’ and he said ‘Oh it’s the kid he won the World Cup with the U17s’ and I went ‘Oh that’s him he finished best player or top scorer or whatever it was’.

    “So I remember people were talking about you.

    “I saw you coming and man…I saw you and then the team it was you against Patrick [Vieira] and Gilberto [Silva] and went ‘oh my gosh all the very best’ but then you started moving the ball around, playing one-twos.

    “People like Patrick and Gilberto couldn’t get near you and that’s when we knew you could play with us straight away.

    “Then you go and score in the Carling Cup and the rest is history.”

  • WHAT THE L?

    The Gunners have dropped the 'L' from their name to celebrate the Invincibles.

  • ON THIS DAY

    In 2004… well, need we remind you?

    All of 26 wins and 12 draws and ZERO defeats later, this moment came.

    But it's 16 years since the last title, which feels like a lifetime ago.

  • INVINCIBLES 'SO SPECIAL'

    Gary Neville has paid tribute to Arsenal's 2003-04 Invincibles, revealing that they forced Manchester United to change their tactics.

    The former Old Trafford ace said: “I think, to be fair, you always think you're going to lose a game in the Premier League, a game that catches you out.

    “To keep your concentration and focus for a whole season, to go unbeaten, is so special.

    “The Invincibles team were a brilliant team, so difficult to play against.

    “There's not many teams who made Manchester United to change the way they play, but that team made us change the way we play.

    “We had to adapt to them because they were so good.”

  • BY GEORGE!

    One Arsenal fan has shared George Graham's programme notes from his first game as Gunners boss.

    The Scot, now 75, took over at Highbury in 1986 and took charge of his first game against another of his former clubs, Manchester United.

    He said: “What I want to achieve at Highbury is obvious; an effective team, challenging for honours and playing attractive football.

    “As a new manager, I’m in the process of bringing my ideas into the club and assembling the squad of players I want.

    “I shan’t put pressure on myself by setting a time limit to get that done – but obviously the sooner the better.”

    Two First Division titles, an FA Cup and a European Cup Winners' Cup later, Graham did a top job… and you'll never guess what the score was in his first game?

  • BITTER TASTE

    A whopping 700,000 pints of beer could be wasted at London's football stadiums – because there's no one to drink it.

    Seven thousand kegs of beer are sitting unused across Wembley, the Emirates, Craven Cottage and the London Stadium, worth £3million in sales.

    An industry source said: “Stadiums usually stock up on four games worth of beer in advance.

    “Its thought £500,000 worth of beer will go to waste by July in the London stadiums as no-ones there to drink it.“

    Another issue for stadiums is the beer lines from kegs to pumps won’t have been cleaned since coronavirus lockdown – so some stagnant beer and water will have been left in them.

    Last month it was revealed 50million pints of beer will go to waste if pubs remain closed into the summer.

  • CESC’S FIRST DAY

    Thierry Henry has revealed what he said to Arsene Wenger on Cesc Fabregas’ first day at Arsenal.

    Speaking to Fabregas on Puma Football’s Instagram, Henry said: “I remember the first time you trained with us and I looked at you… I’m sorry I had a bad haircut but that haircut you had was pretty bad.

    “I looked at you and in those days the shirts were too big for anyone but on you it was like you had a dress on it was so big.

    “I looked at the boss and said: ‘Who the hell is this?!’ and he said ‘Oh it’s the kid he won the World Cup with the U17s’ and I went ‘Oh that’s him he finished best player or top scorer or whatever it was’.

    “So I remember people were talking about you. I saw you coming and man… I saw you and then the team it was you against Patrick [Vieira] and Gilberto [Silva] and went ‘oh my gosh all the very best’ but then you started moving the ball around, playing one-twos.

    “People like Patrick and Gilberto couldn’t get near you and that’s when we knew you could play with us straight away. Then you go and score in the Carling Cup and the rest is history.”

  • MORNING, ARSENAL FANS

    You wouldn't put your shirt on Dani Ceballos staying at Arsenal next season – but you might have a little wager on  Mauro Icardi coming in.

    Loanee playmaker Ceballos says he will be “happy” to return to Real Madrid to see out his contract.

    But Icardi’s wife Wanda Nara fuelled rumours of a switch to the Emirates by sharing with her 6.5 million Instagram followers a snap of their son wearing a Gunners top.

    The Argentina striker, 27, has been on loan at PSG from Inter Milan but speculation is rising he could be part of a swap deal involving Arsenal skipper Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

    The Gunners are also reportedly back in the hunt for PSG'S attacking midfielder Julian Draxler.

    Fussball Transfers say the Gunners have reached out for “information”  on the Germany ace, 26, who is already said to have rebuffed AC Milan.

    Meanwhile, another player long linked with the Gunners has hinted he fancies a move.

    Argentina left-back Nicolas Tagliafico, 27, said:  “Ajax is an amazing club but the Eredivisie is not an amazing competition. One should always have bigger dreams.”

    And the latest on  RB Leipzig centre-back Dayot Upamecano is that Barcelona are set to quell their spending – although it still seems most likely the Frenchman will stay put this summer.

  • 'I'D RATHER GO BROKE'

    Troy Deeney has blasted the plans for Project Restart.

    Watford’s outspoken skipper has been a key figure in talks among Premier League stars.

    And he insists he will not put a return to action before his family’s health — even if it means going broke.

    He cannot see how:

    Football can return in June if people cannot get haircuts before July.

    Penalty areas will be packed while the rest of the nation is social distancing.

    Players can be tested regularly for Covid-19 when NHS staff and key workers are short of tests.

    Deeney was one of the senior Prem players briefed by medical experts on Covid-19 risks during a conference call on Wednesday.

    He said: “I am not even talking about football at the moment — I am talking about my family’s health and that is it.

    “What are they going to do, take money off me? I’ve been broke before so it doesn’t bother me.”

  • MECAN OFFER

    Arsenal have received a boost in their pursuit of Dayot Upamecano from Spain.

    Barcelona were set to be one of the leading contenders to sign the RB Leipzig defender but that could all new change with La Liga chief Javier Tebas suggesting tough new financial rules could be introduced.

    Tebas told the Instituto Iberoamericano de Derecho Deportivo: “We have seen the cash flows for each club and right now they have squads which exceed the [financial] limits we will establish for next season.

    “That brings consequences. Clubs are going to have to look at their academies and come up with a strategy to reduce salaries. There's no other solution.

    “Transfers that exceed financial limits will not be allowed – impossible.”

  • NO HURRY SAYS MURRAY

    Brighton's Glenn Murray cannot understand the Premier League’s rush to get back next month.

    The striker believes top-flight chiefs should wait to see the impact of easing the lockdown BEFORE staging matches.

    Prem players were told in a conference call that plans for phase one of Project Restart include returning to training while still social distancing.

    Murray, 36, speaking on Sky’s Football Show, said: “Phase two hasn’t been drawn up yet but I think they’re looking at a mid-June restart for the Premier League.

    “Football isn’t a necessity, it’s a game, it’s a sport. What if we go through all this rigmarole of trying to get back and we have a second peak and have to stop anyway?“I can’t understand why we’re in such a rush to get back.

    “Why not see how the country deals with stopping the lockdown first before we even start unnecessary sports when people are dying all around us and the death rate is still high?”

Source: Read Full Article

8pm Arsenal news LIVE: Aubameyang to Real Madrid transfer UPDATE, Wenger ‘worries’ about Gunners, James Rodriguez linked – The Sun

ARSENAL fans are patiently waiting for news on Project Restart as the Premier League looks to get back on its feet.

The Gunners haven't been in action since March 7, when they beat West Ham at the Emirates thanks to a goal from Alexandre Lacazette – but there's speculation that they could be about to lose Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

Follow all the very latest updates and gossip from the Emirates below…

  • HOT ROD

    Arsenal target James Rodriguez has been urged to leave Real Madrid and move to the Premier League this summer.

    Former Inter Milan star Ivan Cordoba told the Daily Mail: “James Rodriguez is the best player for us Colombians.

    “It depends on him – he has everything he needs to do well.

    “I wish James would go to England because there are so many interesting options for him.

    “James is already at one of the best teams in Real Madrid, but the Premier League would be a great destination. Those who buy him will make an excellent choice.”

  • GUNNERS ROUND-UP

    Arsenal players might be back in training, but Project Restart hasn't yet been approved by the government.

    The Gunners are hopeful that the season gets going again soon – and there's plenty of activity going on behind the scenes at the Emirates.

    It's reported that Real Madrid want a transfer for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang sorted by June 15 or will look elsewhere for a new striker.

    The Arsenal captain, 30, is out of contract next year and is not expected to sign a new deal at the Emirates.

    It means the Gunners need to make a decision on his future in the comings months – either sell him this summer or let him leave for free in 2021.

    A £30million offer is expected to be enough to convince the North London club to let Auba go.

    While Arsene Wenger has admitted that he still worries about Arsenal – and hopes Mikel Arteta can rediscover the club’s culture.

    He told talkSPORT: “I worry about the club still a lot and I watch all of the games.

    “I believe there is a culture in the way to play football at Arsenal that I want to be respected, and I hope Mikel can get that back.

    “I’m very proud and happy to contribute a little bit to improve things.”

    And Arsenal target James Rodriguez has been urged to leave Real Madrid and move to the Premier League this summer.

    Former Inter Milan star Ivan Cordoba told the Daily Mail: “James Rodriguez is the best player for us Colombians.

    “It depends on him – he has everything he needs to do well.

    “I wish James would go to England because there are so many interesting options for him.

    “James is already at one of the best teams in Real Madrid, but the Premier League would be a great destination. Those who buy him will make an excellent choice.”

Source: Read Full Article