Footy Extras

Arsenal news round-up: Latest on Pepe, Gunners on alert, Thomas injury update

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.

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.

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.