Footy Extras

Arsenal rekindle interest in Bundesliga central defender valued at £54m

Arsenal have reportedly turned their attention to RB Leipzig’ Ibrahima Konate after being frustrated with their attempts to land his teammate Dayot Upamecano.

Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta is coming under the most pressure he has had since arriving as head coach last season.

Initially, the Spaniard’s impact was huge – leading the Gunners to FA Cup success in spite of their shocking form under both Freddie Ljungberg and Unai Emery.

But Arsenal have been poor under Mikel in recent weeks, with their 2-1 loss to Wolves their latest error-strewn display.

In spite of investing heavily in the summer, Arteta is not happy with his squad.

Arteta wants to strengthen the defence next month and had plans to land Upamecano from RB Leipzig.

But the Bundesliga side have frustrated the Gunners after slapping a huge transfer sum on the Frenchman.

It has led the Gunners to eye up his defensive partner Ibrahima, according to TodoFichajes.

They report that the north London giants will present RB Leipzig a proposal in the coming weeks.

Dayot usually takes the plaudits as Leipzig’s main star in defence but the club rate Ibrahima as high, if not more.

But it remains to be seen whether they’d be willing to negotiate with TodoFichajes reporting that the Germans are prepared to price Konate at £54 million (€60m).

That would be out of the Gunners’ price range, with them instead looking to monitor for cheaper deals in the January transfer window.

It has led them to an alternative to midfielder Houssen Aouar – who Lyon demanded offers north of £50m.

Instead, RB Salzburg’s Dominik Szoboszlai has been eyed – who as a £22.5 million release clause.

Arsenal could abandon pursuit of £23m Austrian club prized asset

Arsenal are keen on landing Dominik Szoboszlai but have a few reservations over the RB Salzburg youngster’s abilities in certain areas, according to the latest reports.

Mikel Arteta is on the observation post for a creative spark in his outfit.

The Spanish boss wanted to land Lyon playmaker Houssem Aouar back in the summer, but the Gunners didn’t match the Ligue 1 side’s £55 million valuation of their prized asset.

Dominik, who has been on fire for Salzburg this campaign, is another option for the Gunners.

The Hungary midfielder already has five goals and nine assists for the Austrian club this term and his contract includes an exit clause of just £23 million.

But according to The Athletic, the north Londoners have concerns over his defensive ability and ball retention.

The north Londoners are also believed to be weighing up whether the club should be targeting the 20-year-old ace or a more experienced star to fill their creative void.

Dominik could prove to be a versatile option for Mikel given his ability to play as the more attacking playmaker on the left wing and in a midfield three.

Speaking to Sky Sport Austria earlier this week, Salzburg chief Christoph Freund admitted he expects Szoboszlai to sign for a big club soon and backed the player to thrive at the highest level.

‘Let’s see what happens in winter, but there is a high probability that he will move to a big club,’ Freund said.

‘I’m convinced that he can become one of the most interesting midfielders in Europe in the next few years.’

Arsenal blow as Lyon talent could be on his way to Serie A

Arsenal didn’t manage to seal a deal to land Houssem Aouar in the summer.

The Gunners were strongly linked with a move for the Lyon youngster, who appeared to be the number one target of manager Mikel Arteta.

There was an offer tabled, worth around £35 million per The Guardian, but the French club’s chairman, Jean-Michel Aulas, took to Twitter to decline the offer, insisting that it did not meet the France international’s valuation

Indeed, Houssem has become a key player for Lyon, featuring in 145 matches for the club, netting 26 goals and laying on 28 assists.

He has captained Lyon this campaign, in the 2-1 defeat to Montpellier, and it now appears that Arsenal run the risk of losing out on him altogether.

Sport Witness carries a recent report from Calciomercato, claiming that Juventus are readying a possible move.

Aouar is admired by Bianconeri boss Andrea Pirlo, who would like to bring the player to Italy.

Juve have subsequently been in touch with Lyon, though they want to receive between €60m and €70m (£53.9m and £62.9m) for Houssem.

Juventus aren’t able to afford that at this stage and it means the club are proposing potential alternatives.

One could see their star move the other way in exchange, while another would mean Houssem joins on a two-year loan with an obligation to buy.

Arsenal, though, are still in the race, and the Gunners may hold an advantage if they can get closer to Les Gones’ asking price.

Pundit thinks Gabon striker time with Arsenal will end next summer

Former Manchester United and Liverpool star Paul Ince believes Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang will look to quit Arsenal at the end of the season.

The Gabon striker finally ended speculation over his long-term future in September by penning a new three-year contract at the Emirates, worth a reported £300,000-a-week.

Pierre-Emerick was instrumental in the Gunners’ FA Cup run last season and the early form under manager Mikel Arteta convinced the 31-year-old forard to stay, in spite of interest from Barcelona.

However, Arsenal’s form has collapsed since Pierre-Emerick’s penned his new deal and the Gunners’ lacklustre start to the campaign was summed up with their 2-1 defeat to Wolves on Sunday.

He wasted one good opportunity to score but otherwise it was another out-of-sorts performance from Aubameyang and Ince thinks the signs are there that the player is already thinking about leaving.

‘Aubameyang for me is a worry. He looks frustrated. He looks like he’s not getting enough service,’ Paul told DAZN.

‘If he doesn’t get service – even though he signed a three-year contract- I can’t see him being there next year. I really, really can’t.’

Meantime, Juventus have allegedly stolen a march on Arsenal in the race to land highly-rated Lyon midfielder Houssem Aouar.

The north Londoners attempted to land the Frenchman during the most recent transfer window, but after failing to fork out Les Gones’ asking price for Aouar, Arsenal opted to bring in Thomas Partey from Atletico Madrid instead.

The club continue to be credited with an interest in the player, but it appears that the Gunners will have to win a fierce battle with Serie A powerhouses Bianconeri in order to get a deal over the line.

According to Calciomercato, the Old Lady manager Andrea Pirlo has taken a liking to the star, and the Serie A champions are willing to shell out £50 million to land the 22-year-old next year.

Arsenal set to miss out on signing in-demand Salzburg star

RB Leipzig are quietly confident of fighting off competition from major sides for the signature of Arsenal target Dominik Szoboszlai in the January transfer market, according to The Athletic.

The 20-year-old Hungarian talent is on the wish list of some of the biggest outfits in Europe and is expected to depart Red Bull Salzburg in January.

He has a €25m exit clause, which expires in the middle of next month and teams are expected to trigger that with a view to a move in the winter market.

Arsenal are reported to have already put in legwork on a deal, and Dominik has also been linked with a transfer to AC Milan, Inter Milan, Juventus, Napoli, Paris Saint-Germain, Bayern Munich and Real Madrid.

But it has been stated that RB Leipzig are the ones who are in pole position to snap up the Hungarian in the winter transfer window.

RB Salzburg are their sister club and they think that they will be able to get a deal done to land him in the coming month.

Konrad Laimer, Dayot Upamecano, Naby Keita and most recently Hwang Hee-Chan have all moved from Salzburg to Leipzig in the latest years.

And the German club believe that Dominik will become the next talented youngster to cross the Red Bull bridge in the next window.

In other news, Arsenal will allegedly look to offload Nicolas Pepe in January if the club can find a suitable buyer for the attacker.

The Ivory Coast international has performed relatively well in the UEFA Europa League this season, but his struggles in the Premier League have been well-documented since his arrival from the Ligue 1 side Lille last summer.

Arsenal boss gives worrying injury update on £45m midfielder

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta has confirmed the Ghana international Thomas Partey will miss the club’s ‘next few games’ as the thigh injury the midfielder sustained is worse than first feared.

Thomas, a £45 million arrival from Atletico Madrid earlier this summer, was subbed at half-time in a 3-0 defeat to Dean Smith’s Aston Villa in early November.

The star had been hopeful that he would recover from his thigh injury in order to return after the international break but the issue is worse than the club first feared.

He missed Sunday’s 2-1 defeat to Wolves and Mikel confirmed afterwards that the midfielder will miss the next few matches at a minimum.

‘He had an injury very early in the game, he wanted to continue the second half,’ the Spaniard told reporters.

‘We knew it was a significant injury. He’s done very well and he’s working very hard, he wants to be available.

‘Hopefully we can get him back soon but it’s an area we need to be careful and we need to be protective with the player. I don’t think he will be with us in the next few games.’

Thomas is therefore certain to miss next Sunday’s match against arch rivals Tottenham Hotspur.

Jose Mourinho’s outfit went top of the league table with a 0-0 win against Frank Lampard’s Chelsea at Stamford Bridge before the Gunners’ defeat later in the day.

The north Londoners’ loss means the club have made their worst ever start to a PL campaign.

Juventus keen to beat Arsenal in race to land £50m France star

Serie A giants Juventus are understood to be eyeing a swoop for one of Arsenal’s summer targets.

According to Calcio Mercato, Bianconeri are planning a move for Houssem Aouar, who was believed to be one of the Gunners’ prime targets in the summer market.

The Gunners ended up signing Thomas Partey instead with their transfer kitty unable to stretch to sign both stars, leaving Aouar at Lyon.

Reports earlier this week suggested Houssem was frustrated by a lack of concrete offer from Arsenal who were unwilling to meet Lyon’s £45m valuation.

But that frustration may not have to continue with Houssem now said to be attracting interest from Italian heavyweights Juventus.

A report from Calcio Mercato states Juve boss Andrea Pirlo is keen on the Frenchman and his board could back the manager by stumping up more than £50 million to get the deal done.

It’s claimed the Old Lady will explore the option of a two-year loan with an obligatory option to buy but that the club are prepared to make a firm offer if Les Gones are not keen on the idea of a loan.

It could be bad news for the Gunners if they plan on returning with a fresh bid for him, though it remains to be seen whether Arsenal board will be willing to fork out another large fee having spent heavily last summer.

What is unclear from the report is whether Juventus will try to sign Aouar in the winter or next summer, so if it is the latter, Arsenal may have more time to put together a potential move, if indeed they do intend on returning for the French star.

Technically gifted Ivorian star faces uncertain Arsenal future

Arsenal are ready to offload Nicolas Pepe if a suitor can be found, just one week after the star headbutted an opponent, according to the latest reports.

The Gunners drew with Leeds United last weekend but had to play most the second half with ten men as Nicolas was dismissed for clashing heads with wing-back Ezgjan Alioski shortly after half-time.

He will miss the Gunners’ next three Premier League matches, though Pepe did start in the UEFA Europa League against Molde on Thursday – even opening the scoring with a good strike.

But it appears there is no road to redemption for Nicolas, with the Daily Star claiming the management are preparing to get rid of the player should a suitable buyer be found.

Nicolas was branded ‘unacceptable’ by Mikel Arteta for his antics against the Whites, and the Gunners head coach wants to axe a player many consider won’t cut it in the Premier League.

A suitable deal must be reached before the struggling north London heavyweights will sanction any exit, however.

The Ivory Coast winger cost the north Londoners £72 million, and the club want to recoup a large portion of this sum – either in a player-plus-cash deal or with Nicolas leaving on loan with an obligation to buy.

Pepe was hugely in-demand before the Gunners secured his signature in the summer of 2019, but it is unknown whether he’s being tracked ahead of the transfer market reopening in just over a month.

Arsenal handed boost in their pursuit of classy Turkish midfielder

Arsenal midfield target Yusuf Yazici and his side Lille want a lucrative transfer for the Turkish hailed by Mesut Ozil as “amazing”, his entourage claims.

The Turkey international is again looming large on the north London outfit’s radar after two hat-tricks in three Europa League matches.

And the 23-year-old’s agent Adem Cebeci believes an eventual transfer to the Premier League would suit Yazici and his Ligue 1 club.

Adem told Turkey’s Demiroren News Agency: “It is really an honour for the big clubs to take care of Yusuf because Yusuf has goals and is moving towards this goal.

“(Lille) Sporting director (Luis) Campos likes Yusuf’s game very much. That’s why he worked hard for his transfer.

“When Yusuf reaches his true potential, they want to sell him to very good clubs for a very good price, and that doesn’t seem too far.”

And while outcast Mesut seems on the wane, the 32-year-old has himself lavished praise on a fellow attacking midfielder who could ultimately cast him even further away from the club’s first-team squad.

Mesut told Turkish newspaper Hurriyet back in 2018: “I really like Trabzonspor duo Yusuf Yazici and Abdulkadir Omur, they are incredible talents.

“Yusuf Yazici is an amazing No. 10. We have a lot of similarities and I see myself in him.

“His left foot, his position, his close passing and calmness on the ball.”

Even then, ex-Germany superstar Ozil predicted Yazici would sign for a “big European club in the near future”.

Yusuf, who has 24 caps, swapped Trabzonspor for Lille in the summer of 2019.