David Luiz insists he will leave Arsenal soon as he reveals next destination

Arsenal star David Luiz insists he wants to end his career at Benfica hinting that he could be on his way out of the Emirates very soon. Luiz joined the Gunners from London rivals Chelsea last summer and signed a two-year contract with the north Londoners where he features regularly in the starting line-up.

However, an extension seems unlikely as the defender is now 33 years old and has made it clear that he would like to retire with former club Benfica.

Luiz broke into the scene during his four-year stint with the Portuguese giants and then moved to Chelsea in 2011 where he took his career to new heights.

The Brazil international enjoyed tremendous success throughout his two tenures at Stamford Bridge and also won trophies with Paris Saint-Germain in between.

The centre-back now remains loyal to Arsenal but his heart is set on putting an end to his career at the Estadio da Luz with a Benfica shirt on.

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Luiz told Benfica’s official website: “I always said that I would like to end my career at Benfica.

“In football everything changes, what is true today, tomorrow is a lie, but my feeling is not! I love Benfica.

“My dream is to step on the pitch of Estadio da Luz in their colours.

“For all that I lived and felt, for what Benfica is in my life and in my history, for everything, Benfica is bigger than any player.”

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This is not the first time Luiz makes such statements as he said earlier this year that he has never lost connection with Benfica.

The Brazilian said: “I never lost my connection with Benfica, I have that in my heart, everybody knows I want to come back.

“I want to wear the Benfica shirt again and feel that sensation. The day I come back to the Estadio da Luz it is going to be very special, one of the greatest feelings of my life.”

Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta, though, wants Luiz to stay at the Emirates for next season and even seems keen to offer him an extension.

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Arteta insists he is “delighted” with his performances and the way he interacts with his team-mates on the pitch.

The Spaniard said: “He is a player that has won more trophies than anybody else in that dressing room.

“We have to use that in a very powerful way. I am very pleased with him. In the games he has played under me so far he has been terrific.

“‘His attitude in training, the way he communicates with his team-mates, his desire to still learn, it’s superb. I am delighted with him.”

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Arsenal star Nicolas Pepe ‘bothers’ former ace with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang error

Nicolas Pepe’s performances have “bothered” former Arsenal player Jeremie Aladiere due to his poor decision-making. Pepe joined the Gunners from Lille in a record £72million deal last summer but has so far failed to justify the enormous fee the club paid for him.

The winger has only recorded six goals and eight assists in 32 appearances across all competitions, which is not enough in Aladiere’s eyes.

The former striker acknowledges the Ivory Coast international’s talent but his shortcomings are evident when he is on the pitch as he is unable to link up with a centre-forward as experienced as Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

Aladiere told Goal: “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.

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“And when you spend that much money on a player, you expect more goals and you expect more assists. If you look at his stats, I would say he has had an alright season.

“Now, obviously it is not easy, as I know having been there, but the thing that has disappointed me a tiny bit is his decision-making during games.

“For a player who cost £72m, it’s the simple parts of the game that sometimes I see him lacking. And that’s what I pick on a bit.

“Yes, he goes on a good dribble and goes through two or three players – that’s amazing. But when you have Aubameyang on your left and all you have to do is pass the ball in the right spot, and instead cut it back at the wrong time, that bothers me. And I’ve seen that quite a lot from him this season.

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“Maybe with confidence, with more games, that will improve. But it’s that sort of thing – when he switches off and seems to lack concentration – that gets to me.

“That is something you can’t really have with top, top players who come for that sort of money. The easy stuff has got to be done properly.”

Aladiere, though, is confident that Mikel Arteta can still turn the tide and get the most out of Pepe because “he will not let him get away with things”.

The 24-year-old, who admitted that it has been difficult to adjust to English football, showed signs of improvement this year under Arteta before the campaign got halted by the coronavirus outbreak.

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Aladiere added: “I think Mikel could be the perfect match for Nico because he will not let him get away with things.

“As a player, Mikel was all about quality and simplicity. You can’t miss a simple pass if you are five yards away because that costs goals and points.

“When we go on a counterattack, with the speed and pace we’ve got, we should be scoring many more goals. But if the final pass is not spot on, then you waste chances.

“That’s where I just feel Pepe’s been a bit lacking and maybe that is me being a bit picky because of the price tag.

“And that’s really what I’ve been saying, it’s more about the price. If we’d spent £35m on him, you’d say ‘great signing’. But when you think we have paid twice as much, you think, ‘He needs to do more.’

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Two clubs want Arsenal star Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang but Inter Milan out of £35m race

Paris Saint-Germain are keen on signing Arsenal striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang – but Inter Milan’s hopes of landing the Gabon international appear to have been scuppered.

Aubameyang’s Emirates future is up in the air with his contract expiring in June 2020 and no sign of him signing an extension.

Arsenal are appear likely to sell the 30-year-old, who is 31 next month, this summer to avoid losing him for nothing in a year’s time.

And French outlet Le10 Sport claim PSG are keeping tabs on Aubameyang, having not yet exercised their clause to sign Mauro Icardi permanently.

Icardi, on loan from Inter, can have his move to Parc des Princes turned into a full-time switch but the clause to do so expires on May 31.

And PSG chiefs are currently weighing up their next move, with a swoop for Aubameyang – who Le10 Sport claim would cost between £35m and £45m – a possibility.

Barcelona are also said to have very serious interest in the attacker, who has scored 20 goals in 32 games this season.

But while Antonio Conte’s Inter are said to appreciate the player’s talents, they cannot meet his wage demands.

It has previously been suggested that Aubameyang, currently on £200,000 a week, would want a 33 per cent pay rise to remain in north London.

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Meanwhile Granit Xhaka, who lost the captain’s armband to Aubameyang late last year, admits it would be a huge blow to lose the frontman.

“If that were to happen, it would, of course, be a great loss for the team and the club,” he told SportBild.

“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.”

But Arsenal legend Ian Wright would not bemoan Aubameyang if he sought to leave in order to win silverware elsewhere.

He told SPORF: “If he was somebody that was tempted away, I’m not sure that people could really fault him at this stage.

“Because you look at Arsenal and the current plight, you have to say we’re going through a transitional period, coming off of Wenger, coming off of Unai Emery and now getting the coach that I believe is going to take us to the promised land.

“It depends totally on whether Aubameyang has the patience to wait for this to kick in but if he didn’t I’m not sure at his age what people could say, he’s somebody that deserves to be playing at a level where he’s able to win things.

“Depending on his ambition, his people around him and what they’re saying to him, how much he loves the club – and I know he loves the club immensely – you have to pray that’s going to be enough for him to stay.

“But I’m not gonna sit here and say anything other than I wish him all the best with what he does but I pray to God he stays at Arsenal.”

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Unai Emery rips shreds out of Arsenal star Mesut Ozil – ‘He has to look at himself’

Unai Emery claims Arsenal star Mesut Ozil “has to look at himself” and work on his attitude as well as his commitment to the club. Emery replaced legendary manager Arsene Wenger at the Gunners in 2018 and enjoyed a decent first season in charge as he led the north Londoners to the Europa League final.

However, the Spaniard’s second year at the helm was marred by a run of poor results, unattractive football and an uneasy relationship with Ozil and ended in the coach being sacked halfway through.

The former Sevilla boss sidelined the attacking midfielder while he was in charge this season and he now suggests that he wasn’t happy with the player’s lack of commitment.

The ex-Paris Saint-Germain manager claims he tried to get the most out of the German but his attitude didn’t help and even believes his team-mates could see this, which is why they didn’t vote him as captain.

Emery told the Daily Mail: “His performances were sometimes better, sometimes worse like all players.

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“In the end he has to look at himself. At his attitude and his commitment.

“I tried my utmost to help Ozil. Throughout my career, talented players have been my favourites and they have played at their best or close to their best with me.

“I was always positive with him in terms of wanting him to be involved, but then the attitude that he adopted, and the commitment levels, well, they weren’t enough.

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“One of the captains could possibly have been Ozil but the dressing room didn’t want him to be captain. His level of commitment was not that of someone who deserved to be captain, and that’s not what I decided, that’s what the players decided.”

The first cracks started to show after Arsenal’s 4-1 drubbing to London rivals Chelsea in the Europa League final last year when they returned to Colney.

Emery drove to the training ground shortly after the team landed and met with every single one of his players except for Ozil who “didn’t want to come”.

The 48-year-old still doesn’t know why the former Germany international decided against meeting him but he remembers he wasn’t pleased with this turn of events.

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Emery added: “We got back to London at eight in the morning and I went home, slept three hours, and then went back to Colney.

“I had meetings with all the players that day. Individual half-hour chats with each one. Only Ozil didn’t want to come.

“I don’t know. He didn’t come. And that’s what we’re saying when we talk about commitment. When the commitment is 100 per cent then everyone comes.

“Playing a lot of important games in the month of April we needed the 100 per cent commitment of all the players.There were a lot of players who were a bit lacking in that extra commitment.”

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The art of movement: Arsenal great Ian Wright on playing with Dennis Bergkamp and scaring defenders

A striker’s ability to escape the attention of a defender, to find space in the most fiercely guarded areas of the pitch, is often considered innate, an instinct the game’s greatest goalscorers carry within them. But this assumption fails to appreciate the dedication, the trial and error, the science required to master movement.

Ian Wright was one of the greatest strikers of his generation, a scorer of record-breaking regularity during a 15-year career which saw him rise from non-league football to stardom with Crystal Palace, Arsenal and England. A lethal finisher from almost any range or angle, he found simply putting the ball in the net effortless. The subtle art of decoy runs and the careful timing of bursts into the box, though, did not come as naturally.

“When I was younger and I used to watch strikers, it was never the movement I was looking at,” Wright tells The Independent. “I was looking at Cyril Regis holding it up, Laurie Cunningham doing skills, things like that. I never realised movement was important. When I played Sunday morning football, movement wasn’t something that I needed to worry about, because I was so quick. They’d just put it over the top, and I’d run over there.

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“Once I got to Palace, my movement wasn’t great. I didn’t know that when the ball goes from the centre-half into midfield, you’ve got to be doing something so the defender is thinking, ‘What’s he going to do?’”

International recognition arrived late for Wright. He was 27 years old, had scored 118 goals for Crystal Palace and was just three months shy of finishing his first season with Arsenal as the First Division’s top scorer when Graham Taylor handed him a first England cap in February 1991. And the belated chance to join up with the country’s best players proved as educational for Wright as it was a moment for proud reflection.

“When I got into England,” he says, “I watched Gary Lineker. I saw him roast Des Walker once – and Des Walker was the best – by bringing him towards the ball then just spinning him. The way he did it, he was like a possum; he sucks you in like he’s not interested, running towards the midfield, then bang.


The #IndyPL100 countdown





1/101 #IndyPL100

2/101 100. Graeme Le Saux

3/101 99. Cesar Azpilicueta

4/101 98. Fernandinho

5/101 97. James Milner

6/101 96. Joe Cole

7/101 95. Juninho

8/101 94. Marcel Desailly

9/101 93. Arjen Robben

10/101 92. Robbie Keane

11/101 91. Chris Sutton

12/101 90. Sami Hyypia

13/101 89. Edin Dzeko

14/101 88. Lee Dixon

15/101 87. Nani

16/101 86. Peter Beardsley

17/101 85. Fredrik Ljungberg

18/101 84. Emmanuel Petit

19/101 83. Patrice Evra

20/101 82. Jay Jay Okocha

21/101 81. Steve McManaman

22/101 80. Branislav Ivanovic

23/101 79. Gary Speed

24/101 78. William Gallas

25/101 77. Mesut Ozil

26/101 76. Gilberto Silva

27/101 75. Jamie Carragher

28/101 74. Paul Ince

29/101 73. Les Ferdinand

30/101 72. Raheem Sterling

31/101 71. Mark Hughes

32/101 70. Gary Pallister

33/101 69. Jurgen Klinsmann

34/101 68. Ricardo Carvalho

35/101 67. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer

36/101 66. David Ginola

37/101 65. Jimmy-Floyd Hasselbaink

38/101 64. Diego Costa

39/101 63. Ledley King

40/101 62. Michael Essien

41/101 61. Marc Overmars

42/101 60. Fernando Torres

43/101 59. Kevin de Bruyne

44/101 58. David Seaman

45/101 57. Luka Modric

46/101 56. Dennis Irwin

47/101 55. Gary Neville

48/101 54. Xabi Alonso

49/101 53. Paolo Di Canio

50/101 52. Edwin Van Der Sar

51/101 51. Dimitar Berbatov

52/101 50. Steve Bruce

53/101 49. Nicolas Anelka

54/101 48. Dwight Yorke

55/101 47. Jaap Stam

56/101 46. Claude Makelele

57/101 45. Teddy Sheringham

58/101 44. Michael Carrick

59/101 43. Ian Wright

60/101 42. Robbie Fowler

61/101 41. Carlos Tevez

62/101 40. David de Gea

63/101 39. Sol Campbell

64/101 38. Tony Adams

65/101 37. Robert Pires

66/101 36. N’Golo Kante

67/101 35. Matthew Le Tissier

68/101 34. Harry Kane

69/101 33. Luis Suarez

70/101 32. Gianfranco Zola

71/101 31. Petr Cech

72/101 30. Cesc Fabregas

73/101 29. Yaya Toure

74/101 28. Michael Owen

75/101 27. Robin van Persie

76/101 26. Gareth Bale

77/101 25. Andy Cole

78/101 24. Vincent Kompany

79/101 23. Eden Hazard

80/101 22. Ruud van Nistelrooy

81/101 21. David Beckham

82/101 20. Peter Schmeichel

83/101 19. Nemanja Vidic

84/101 18. Didier Drogba

85/101 17. David Silva

86/101 16. Rio Ferdinand

87/101 15. Steven Gerrard

88/101 14. Ashley Cole

89/101 13. Dennis Bergkamp

90/101 12. Paul Scholes

91/101 11. Eric Cantona

92/101 10. Sergio Aguero

93/101 9. Patrick Vieira

94/101 8. John Terry

95/101 7. Alan Shearer

96/101 6. Wayne Rooney

97/101 5. Frank Lampard

98/101 4. Roy Keane

99/101 3. Ryan Giggs

100/101 2. Cristiano Ronaldo

101/101 1. Thierry Henry

1/101 #IndyPL100

2/101 100. Graeme Le Saux

3/101 99. Cesar Azpilicueta

4/101 98. Fernandinho

5/101 97. James Milner

6/101 96. Joe Cole

7/101 95. Juninho

8/101 94. Marcel Desailly

9/101 93. Arjen Robben

10/101 92. Robbie Keane

11/101 91. Chris Sutton

12/101 90. Sami Hyypia

13/101 89. Edin Dzeko

14/101 88. Lee Dixon

15/101 87. Nani

16/101 86. Peter Beardsley

17/101 85. Fredrik Ljungberg

18/101 84. Emmanuel Petit

19/101 83. Patrice Evra

20/101 82. Jay Jay Okocha

21/101 81. Steve McManaman

22/101 80. Branislav Ivanovic

23/101 79. Gary Speed

24/101 78. William Gallas

25/101 77. Mesut Ozil

26/101 76. Gilberto Silva

27/101 75. Jamie Carragher

28/101 74. Paul Ince

29/101 73. Les Ferdinand

30/101 72. Raheem Sterling

31/101 71. Mark Hughes

32/101 70. Gary Pallister

33/101 69. Jurgen Klinsmann

34/101 68. Ricardo Carvalho

35/101 67. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer

36/101 66. David Ginola

37/101 65. Jimmy-Floyd Hasselbaink

38/101 64. Diego Costa

39/101 63. Ledley King

40/101 62. Michael Essien

41/101 61. Marc Overmars

42/101 60. Fernando Torres

43/101 59. Kevin de Bruyne

44/101 58. David Seaman

45/101 57. Luka Modric

46/101 56. Dennis Irwin

47/101 55. Gary Neville

48/101 54. Xabi Alonso

49/101 53. Paolo Di Canio

50/101 52. Edwin Van Der Sar

51/101 51. Dimitar Berbatov

52/101 50. Steve Bruce

53/101 49. Nicolas Anelka

54/101 48. Dwight Yorke

55/101 47. Jaap Stam

56/101 46. Claude Makelele

57/101 45. Teddy Sheringham

58/101 44. Michael Carrick

59/101 43. Ian Wright

60/101 42. Robbie Fowler

61/101 41. Carlos Tevez

62/101 40. David de Gea

63/101 39. Sol Campbell

64/101 38. Tony Adams

65/101 37. Robert Pires

66/101 36. N’Golo Kante

67/101 35. Matthew Le Tissier

68/101 34. Harry Kane

69/101 33. Luis Suarez

70/101 32. Gianfranco Zola

71/101 31. Petr Cech

72/101 30. Cesc Fabregas

73/101 29. Yaya Toure

74/101 28. Michael Owen

75/101 27. Robin van Persie

76/101 26. Gareth Bale

77/101 25. Andy Cole

78/101 24. Vincent Kompany

79/101 23. Eden Hazard

80/101 22. Ruud van Nistelrooy

81/101 21. David Beckham

82/101 20. Peter Schmeichel

83/101 19. Nemanja Vidic

84/101 18. Didier Drogba

85/101 17. David Silva

86/101 16. Rio Ferdinand

87/101 15. Steven Gerrard

88/101 14. Ashley Cole

89/101 13. Dennis Bergkamp

90/101 12. Paul Scholes

91/101 11. Eric Cantona

92/101 10. Sergio Aguero

93/101 9. Patrick Vieira

94/101 8. John Terry

95/101 7. Alan Shearer

96/101 6. Wayne Rooney

97/101 5. Frank Lampard

98/101 4. Roy Keane

99/101 3. Ryan Giggs

100/101 2. Cristiano Ronaldo

101/101 1. Thierry Henry

“When we went on a tour of Australasia [in June 1991], [coach] Steve Harrison took me aside and taught me how to bend my runs, how to go in behind a defender or come into feet, how you make an extra yard of space. Steve Harrison spent easily 45 minutes after training with me, every time, about my movement. It was invaluable to me.”

A striker’s ability to find or create space is a collaborative effort, working in sync with the midfielders who will slide through-balls in behind with perfect timing, wingers who deliver crosses reliably into the most dangerous areas, and strike partners who will drop deep or pull wide to link play.

“You’ve got to understand the midfield player who’s on the ball,” Wright explains, “and the capabilities he’s got in respect of finding you and how quickly he can find you. You can imagine, once I got involved with Patrick [Vieira] and Manu Petit, and Dennis [Bergkamp], my ratio went up.

“You’ve got to be involved at all times: ‘OK, Lee Dixon’s got it. I’m just going to amble over towards the left-hand side and suck this defender in.’ Then if Marc Overmars gets it, or Lee Dixon puts it over the top, I bend my run and I’ve got loads of space over on the left-hand side.

“It’s all about making sure that when the ball is moving about in midfield, all I’m thinking about is, ‘Where is [my marker]? Is he behind me? Is he on my shoulder?’”

Battling opposition defenders was a challenge Wright always relished. At 5ft 9ins, physical contests with towering centre-halves were to be avoided. Instead, he was cunning and lithe, meeting muscularity with misdirection to steal a march on his marker.

“Once you get into a situation where Dennis has made his move and broken through the midfield, and I’m running alongside the centre-half, you make the move like you’re going to go across [the centre-back] – and he has to go with you – then you go back the other way and you’ve got five yards of space instantly. I’d have already said to Dennis, ‘Put it in to my left, because I’m going to run him over to the right.’ By the time he recovers, you’re in on goal to get your shot off.

“The closer you get to the penalty area, the more twitchy a defender will get. Any movement you make, the defender is going to buy it. Then you can exploit them, exploit the little spaces.”

Bergkamp’s arrival at Highbury in 1995, joining from Internazionale in a club-record £7.5m deal, released Wright to be the lone out-and-out frontman, his preferred role, as the Dutchman dropped off to link midfield and attack.

“When I was up front on my own, I loved it. It was all about where I was. There’s so much space and so much confusion you can cause with defenders. They’re having to think all the time, because they’ve got one person continuously patrolling that area and no one knows who’s going to pick him up.

“It was like a chess game. Sometimes, even if the ball was nowhere near, I’d test the defender to see how frigid he is, to see if he’s scared of my movement. If I go next to him and pretend to start making a run, and he goes with me, even if the ball’s not in play, that’s when I know he’s afraid.”

While Wright is certain pace will always be one the premier assets a striker can possess, he believes there is a more to developing elite-level movement than sheer speed.

“For good movement, obviously you need a good amount of intelligence and understanding of the game – How much time has the midfielder got? How close is the defender?

“There’s a feeling you have where you know where the space is and you know where you want to end up. And you know how important it is to not cancel that space before the play has built up enough for you to exploit it.

“It’s very much possession-based now, so your movement has to be very concise in the latter stages of the pitch. It’s more about linking the play and then trying to find half a yard inside the box. That’s where someone like Sergio Aguero does it better than anyone else.”

In search of a spilt-second’s head start or an unguarded inch of space, Wright learned to initiate a battle of attrition through constant movement. He would wear the opposition backline down by making sure he occupied their thoughts at all times, pouncing on any mental lapses this instigated. Even when the other team had a corner, he’d position himself on the halfway line, walking between the two covering defenders, forcing them to pass responsibility for marking him back and forth.

“Never give them a break.” That was the Wright way.

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RB Leipzig set stance on selling £53m Arsenal transfer target Dayot Upamecano this summer

RB Leipzig will sell centre-back Dayot Upamecano this summer – if his £53million (€60m) release clause is met by an interested club. Arsenal are one of several teams who want to sign the Frenchman.

Upamecano’s contract at Leipzig expires in June 2021 and so this is the last window in which the Bundesliga side can hope to extract full value for his talents.

As such, the Red Bull-owned outfit have decided they will cash in on the France under-21 international reopens – though not for less than his release clause, according to L’Equipe.

Upamecano has yet to make a decision on where he wants to move to, with a handful of clubs across Europe keen on him.

The 21-year-old has Arsenal, Barcelona, Real Madrid, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and unnamed Italian sides all interested in signing him.

It is said the four English clubs have all made their interest known in different ways, while Barca and Real have been in touch with Leipzig about the centre-half.

No Premier League team has yet made a concrete approach, though Arsenal’s long-standing interest is well known.

Mikel Arteta wants a new centre-back this summer and Upamecano will no doubt be high on the Gunners’ list of options.

But they may be priced out of a move unless they can qualify for the Champions League, which depends on the Premier League campaign being resumed after the coronavirus crisis.

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According to L’Equipe, Bayern Munich are the only team to have made a concrete approach.

And the defender is represented by a German sports agency called SportsTotal, who have Bayern midfielder Toni Kroos as a client.

Bayern great Lothar Matthaus however believes Upamecano should stick around at Leipzig, who are into this season’s Champions League quarter-finals, a little longer.

“I can see him playing for all the big club when he gets more experience,” Matthaus told Sky Sport Germany.

“If he does leave, he needs to make sure his new coach or club gives him the confidence to play regularly – as he is doing at Leipzig.

“He’s a young player, highly rated, fast, has a good positional game and uses his body well for a 21-year-old. But a year or two in Leipzig would not hurt him.

“Leipzig are a top team – one of the last eight remaining in the Champions League.

“I can still see one or two per cent where he can learn, but he’s a huge player and that’s why I’m not surprised that top clubs in Europe are after him.

“But you can’t speculate much about change because you need to see how the [coronavirus] situation develops.”

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Arsenal set to face competition from Sevilla in Orkun Kokcu pursuit

Arsenal set to face competition from Sevilla in their pursuit of a £23m summer move for Feyenoord midfielder Orkun Kokcu

  • Feyenoord midfielder Orkun Kokcu is a target for Arsenal in the summer window
  • Mikel Arteta’s side could face competition from Sevilla for the young star though
  • Feyenoord’s sporting director has confirmed Julen Lopetegui is interested 

Sevilla are rivalling Arsenal in the race for Feyenoord midfielder Orkun Kokcu.

As revealed by Sportsmail, the 19-year-old is a target for the Gunners this summer but the Emirates side are now facing competition from Spain.

Feyenoord sporting director Frank Arnesen has confirmed Julen Lopetegui’s side are keen, saying: ‘There are no offers. But we are aware of Sevilla’s interest.

Sevilla are set to join Arsenal in pursuit of Feyenoord talent Orkun Kokcu for a summer move

Arsenal are making their moves early in a bid to secure the 19-year-old midfielder

‘We have held meetings, and there are four clubs interested in him, one of them is Sevilla.

‘There is nothing official yet, and no offers have been received.’

Arsenal have been keen to strike an early £23million deal for Kokcu.

Mikel Arteta wants to overhaul his squad in the summer after a run of disappointing seasons

The star came through Feyenoord’s youth academy and has enjoyed a breakthrough year

Speaking last month, Feyenoord boss Dick Advocaat confirmed: ‘It seems that what I read (about Arsenal) is true, but no one has yet come to Feyenoord (to make their interest clear).

‘I think he fits in everywhere.’

The midfielder has enjoyed a breakthrough season after playing must of the previous term playing under-19 football, making 21 first-team starts in the Eredivisie. 




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Mesut Ozil among three Arsenal players to reject pay cut despite earning £350,000 a week

Mesut Ozil is among three Arsenal players who have rejected taking a pay cut after the club became the first to agree a 12.5 per cent wage reduction during the coronavirus lockdown.

The Independent understands that the former Germany international has joined two other players in failing to agree to the pay cut, despite the club announcing the move on Monday.

The reduction has been agreed “to help cover some of the financial risks” being posed by the outbreak of Covid-19, which has seen all games suspended since Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta was diagnosed with coronavirus nearly six weeks ago. As part of the agreement, Arteta has also agreed to the salary reduction, having played a key role in negotiating the measure between club and players after something of a stand-off in recent weeks.

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However, he could not get Ozil on board with the reduction, with the £350,000-a-week midfielder choosing to wait for more clarity over how the financial implications on clubs will play out before making a decision.

Ozil has not ruled out taking a pay cut in the future if the situation plays out in a way that the move becomes unavoidable, but though he has expressed his respect for the rest of the squad’s decision, he has asked them to do the same with his. The 31-year-old would still take home more than £306,000 per week before tax if he were to agree to the salary reduction.

Ozil’s agent Erkut Sogut refused to comment on the matter on Monday, but has previously spoken of his opposition to complete pay cuts among the playing squad.

“Deferral is an option but not to agree a cut today when the clubs may still make the same profit as last year,” Sogut said earlier this month.

“What the exact financial impact is on the clubs, we can see three to six months later – but we can’t see it today.”

Ozil is actively involved in donating to a number of charities himself, with the 92-cap Germany international memorably using his wedding to wife Amine to pay for 1,000 children to have life-changing surgery, as well as providing food for 100,000 homeless people at 16 refugee camps and shelters in Turkey and Syria. Ozil also used his 2014 World Cup winnings to fund surgery for 23 Brazilian children to have operations, at a cost of £240,000.


Ranking net transfer spending in world football





1/20 20. VFB Stuttgart

2/20 19. AS Saint-Etienne

3/20 18. Girondins Bordeaux

4/20 17. Genoa

5/20 16. Atalanta

6/20 15. KRC Genk

7/20 14. Swansea City

8/20 13. Dinamo Zagreb

9/20 12. Crystal Palace

10/20 11. CA Paranaense

11/20 10. Empoli

12/20 9. PSV Eindhoven

13/20 8. Sampdoria

14/20 7. TSG Hoffenheim

15/20 6. LOSC Lille

16/20 5. RB Salzburg

17/20 4. Sporting CP

18/20 3. Ajax

19/20 2. SL Benfica

20/20 1. Chelsea

1/20 20. VFB Stuttgart

2/20 19. AS Saint-Etienne

3/20 18. Girondins Bordeaux

4/20 17. Genoa

5/20 16. Atalanta

6/20 15. KRC Genk

7/20 14. Swansea City

8/20 13. Dinamo Zagreb

9/20 12. Crystal Palace

10/20 11. CA Paranaense

11/20 10. Empoli

12/20 9. PSV Eindhoven

13/20 8. Sampdoria

14/20 7. TSG Hoffenheim

15/20 6. LOSC Lille

16/20 5. RB Salzburg

17/20 4. Sporting CP

18/20 3. Ajax

19/20 2. SL Benfica

20/20 1. Chelsea

The agreement for reductions was struck after a fortnight of protracted negotiations between the first-team squad and the club’s hierarchy, with staff told on a call on Monday before the official announcement.

The Gunners confirmed last week that they are not planning to utilise the government’s furlough scheme and outlined their intention to pay staff in full during this uncertain period, while extending casual employees’ wages until the end of May.

In a statement, the club said: “We are pleased to announce that we have reached a voluntary agreement with our first-team players, head coach and core coaching staff to help support the club at this critical time.

“The move follows positive and constructive discussions. In these conversations there has been a clear appreciation of the gravity of the current situation caused by the Covid-19 pandemic and a strong desire for players and staff to show their backing for the Arsenal family.

“Reductions of total annual earnings by 12.5 per cent will come into effect this month, with the contractual paperwork being completed in the coming days. If we meet specific targets in the seasons ahead, primarily linked to success on the pitch, the club will repay agreed amounts. We will be able to make those repayments as hitting these targets, which the players can directly influence, will mean our financial position will be stronger.

“The agreement is based on the assumption we will finish the season 2019/20 and receive the full broadcasting revenues. The resulting savings will help cover some of the financial risks we have this season in relation to our matchday and commercial income.”

The club’s executive team have voluntarily waived more than a third of their earnings over the next year to cope with what they called “one of the most challenging periods in our near 134-year history.”

Owners Kroenke Sports & Entertainment have already indicated they “are fully committed to supporting Arsenal through”.

Arsenal’s annual wage bill is in the region of £230m, but although that will now be significantly reduced, there are still fears that the club will need a significant cash injection from Kroenke in order to avoid major financial issue in the coming years – something the the American billionaire has not been keen to do during his tenure as majority shareholder.

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Arsenal starlet Martinelli reveals why he copied Mbappe's celebration

‘I already had the idea of doing it if I scored… my mother said “go for it”‘: Arsenal starlet Gabriel Martinelli reveals why he copied Kylian Mbappe’s celebration after scoring wonder goal against rivals Chelsea

  • Gabriel Martinelli has revealed why he mimicked Kylian Mbappe’s celebration
  • The Brazilian pulled out the arms crossed celebration after scoring at Chelsea
  • Many thought it was because he had spotted an Arsenal fan doing the same
  • But he says it was planned and he asked his mother’s advice the night before 

Gabriel Martinelli has admitted he had already planned to mimic Kylian Mbappe’s celebration after scoring against Chelsea, revealing he told his mother he was going to do it the night before the game.

The Brazilian youngster scored a sublime goal at Stamford Bridge in January, running almost the length of the pitch before slotting past Kepa Arrizabalaga in front of the Arsenal fans.

He went on to pull out Mbappe’s famous arms crossed celebration in the corner where the Arsenal fans were housed with some thinking he did it because he’d seen a fan do the same just moments before.

Arsenal starlet Gabriel Martinelli has explained why he copied Kylian Mbappe’s celebration

Martinelli pulled out Mbappe’s arms crossed celebration after scoring at Chelsea in January

But Martinelli has now admitted that was not the reason and he had in fact planned to copy the Paris Saint-Germain starlet the night before the game.

Asked why he did the celebration in a Q&A on Arsenal’s official website, he said: ‘Many people think I looked at the fans and saw a guy with his arms crossed, but I didn’t.

‘When I celebrated after scoring, I didn’t notice him doing that.

‘I already had the idea of celebrating like that if I scored. It was funny because I’d said to my mother the night before that I was going to score.

‘She was making dinner and I was in the kitchen with her and my father and I said to her that I was going to score and asked what she thought about celebrating like that. 

‘She said: “Go for it!” So I had that celebration in my head if I scored and it wasn’t to do with seeing that guy doing it.

‘I already had it in my head that I was going to do it.’ 

The 18-year-old has impressed in his debut campaign in English football. He has scored 10 goals in 26 appearances across all competitions and has provided four assists. 

Martinelli ran almost the length of the pitch at Stamford Bridge before finishing with ease




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Arsenal & Chelsea 'will be offered Coutinho on loan or for £75m'

Arsenal and Chelsea ‘will be offered the chance to sign Barcelona flop Philippe Coutinho on loan or for £75m this summer’… but Manchester City could beat them to the Brazilian

  • Philippe Coutinho is out of favour at Barcelona after spending season on loan
  • Coutinho joined Bayern Munich on a season-long loan deal back in August
  • Bayern won’t sign him on a permanent deal, paving way for return to England 

Barcelona midfielder Philippe Coutinho will reportedly be offered to Arsenal and Chelsea either on loan or for a £75million permanent deal.

Coutinho is firmly out of favour at Barca after losing his place in the side after joining the club from Liverpool in a £142million deal in 2018.

The Brazil international joined Bayern Munich on a season long loan deal in August but despite scoring nine goals in 32 games the club aren’t interested in a permanent deal.

Barcelona’s Philippe Coutinho will reportedly be offered to Arsenal and Chelsea this summer

Coutinho has spent this season on loan at Bayern Munich but failed to reproduce his best form

Coutinho joined Barca in a £142m move in 2018 after flourishing in his five years at Liverpool

According to The Sun, Barca will instead offer the 27-year-old to Premier League sides Arsenal and Chelsea on either a loan or permanent basis. 

The Catalans are struggling financially after being starved of income as a result of the coronavirus crisis with first team players taking a 70 per cent pay cut. 

Consequently, Barca are likely to prefer a permanent deal to bring in much needed funds and that could pave the way for a third English club to enter the race to sign Coutinho. 

Coutinho is likely to be made available on loan or for a permanent fee of £75 million 

Manchester City could also enter the race to sign Coutinho as a replacement for David Silva

Manchester City are in the market for an attacking midfielder with David Silva set to leave the club on a free transfer after spending the last 10 years at the club. 

Coutinho could provide the same creative spark and would fit Pep Guardiola’s possession-based style of football. 

A fee of £75m is also unlikely to dissuade City from making a move, with the club in a healthy financial position thanks to their wealthy owners. 

Coutinho will be desperate to get his career back on track and reestablish himself as one of the game’s finest creative talents after stalling in recent seasons.

The former Liverpool man rose to prominence during his five seasons at Anfield but has failed to reproduce those performances in Spain and Germany.  


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