Crisis talk at Arsenal calmed by Coquelin

Francis Coquelin has rubbished talk of a crisis at Arsenal, but admits that a suitable replacement for Alexis Sanchez will have to be found.

The French midfielder has already made his way through the exits at the Emirates Stadium, with Valencia having secured his services in a £12 million deal.

More departures appear to be on the cards, with Chilean forward Alexis closing on a switch to Manchester United after opting to run down his contract.

Amid all of the uncertainty off the field, Arsenal have gone five games without a win on it.

Coquelin, though, insists there is no cause for concern and has backed Arsene Wenger to turn the tide, telling the BBC World Football Show: “It’s not a crisis, they just need a couple of results to get going again.

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“People tend to forget what Wenger has done for the club.

“I understand the frustration but everyone should stand by him, everyone should be behind [him]. That’s the only way results are going to turn around.”

Losing Alexis to a domestic rival will do the Arsenal cause few favours, but they are already working hard on bringing in cover.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan could be included as part of an agreement with United, whileGoal revealed on Friday that Borussia Dortmund striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has also agreed personal terms with the Gunners.

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Coquelin admits additions will be essential, with Wenger in need of support in search of results and an expectant fan base demanding that any losses are suitably covered.

He added: “If they let Sanchez go, what I am sure of is they will have to strengthen the team, because he will be a big miss.

“For fans, they demand a competitive team. They will be upset if no-one comes in the transfer market and they let Sanchez go.”


January transfer news & rumours: Liverpool join Bale race

Liverpool join Bale race

Liverpool have joined arch-rivals Manchester United in the battle to land Real Madrid forward Gareth Bale, according to Don Balon .

The Wales international has been heavily linked with a return to the Premier League after struggling for form and fitness at Santiago Bernabeu.

Jurgen Klopp has the funds available to make a move after offloading Philippe Coutinho to Barcelona and is prepared to spend over €100 million on Bale.

Alexis bids farewell to Arsenal

Alexis Sanchez, Arsenal

Alexis Sanchez has edged another step close to completing a move to Manchester United, with The Daily Mirror claiming he has said his goodbyes at Arsenal.

The Chilean was back in training with the Gunners on Friday as a switch to Old Trafford was held up, but he could see a transfer pushed through over the weekend.

Gunners to pay £53m for Auba

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

Arsenal are ready to push through a move for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang by meeting Borussia Dortmund’s £53 million asking price, reports German website WA .

Goal revealed on Friday that the Gunners have agreed personal terms with the prolific Gabon international striker.

Arsene Wenger is now prepared to step up his efforts to get the frontman on board and get a high-profile deal over the line during the January window.

Real in secret Salah talks

Mohamed Salah Liverpool

Real Madrid have been in secret transfer talks with Liverpool forward Mohamed Salah, claims El Chiringuito TV .

The La Liga giants are said to want the Egypt international as their next ‘Galactico’ signing after seeing him impress since moving to Anfield in the summer of 2017.

PSG piece together Pep plan

Pep Guardiola Manchester City

Paris Saint-Germain have made Pep Guardiola their top managerial target, claims The Daily Mirror.

The former Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss is currently at the Manchester City helm, but a big-spending outfit in Ligue 1 have him in their sights.

Spurs step up Malcom bid

Malcom Bordeaux

Tottenham are ready to step up their efforts to land Bordeaux forward Malcom after seeing north London rivals Arsenal pull out of the running, reports ESPN .

Representatives of the Brazilian have held talks with Spurs and the Gunners, with the path having now been cleared for Mauricio Pochettino to land a top target.

United lead hunt for £35m Seri

Jean Michael Seri Nice

Manchester United have jumped to the front of the queue to sign Nice midfielder Jean-Michael Seri, says the Daily Mail.

Chelsea, Liverpool and Arsenal have also expressed an interest in the Ivorian, but the Red Devils are ready to complete a £35 million deal.

Dzeko agrees to Chelsea switch

Dzeko Genoa Roma

Edin Dzeko has agreed to join Chelsea in a £44 million deal, according to Gianluca Di Marzio.

The former Manchester City striker has been a regular source of goals at Roma and could be set for a second stint in the Premier League.

Atletico eyeing Lemar

Thomas Lemar France 2017

Atletico Madrid are prepared to beat Liverpool and Arsenal to Monaco winger Thomas Lemar if Antoine Griezmann leaves for Barcelona, according to Mundo Deportivo .

The France international has been linked with a move to England for some time, but he could be offered the opportunity to fill a fellow countryman’s boots in Spain.

Pellegrini wants Mascherano move

Javier Mascherano Barcelona

Manuel Pellegrini is hoping to see Javier Mascherano complete a proposed switch from Barcelona and join him at Hebei Fortune, the experienced coach has told Marca .

He said of the versatile Argentine: “The plan is that he comes. We have to see his situation at Barcelona, but he is a player that I am very interested in.”

Reds warned off Butland

Jack Butland Stoke

Liverpool have been warned not to waste their time making a £40 million move for Stoke City goalkeeper Jack Butland.

New Potters boss Paul Lambert insists the England international is not for sale, telling reporters: “There is absolutely no way he is going in January. Absolutely no chance. As long as I’m here I’ll do everything I can to keep him.”

Enrique lined up by Blues

Luis Enrique Barcelona

Chelsea will look to replace Antonio Conte with former Barcelona boss Luis Enrique if their current coach walks away in the summer, reports the Daily Star .

It is also claimed that the Blues will seek to bring Juliano Belletti back to Stamford Bridge as the club’s director of football.

Oblak not on Anfield radar

Jan Oblak Atletico Madrid

Atletico Madrid goalkeeper Jan Oblak is not among those currently being considered by Jurgen Klopp as possible additions at Anfield, Guillem Balague has told Sky Sports .

The Reds are expected to try and bolster their options between the sticks either in January or the summer, but no move has been made towards the Spanish capital as yet.

Chelsea make Crouch contact

Peter Crouch, Stoke City

Chelsea have approached Stoke regarding a possible deal for Peter Crouch, reports The Daily Mirror.

The experienced striker has emerged as a shock target for the Blues, with efforts to secure his signature now stepped up after seeing routes to other targets blocked.

Klopp leading Konsa chase

Ezri Konsa Charlton

Liverpool have overtaken neighbours Everton in the race to land Charlton’s highly-rated defender Ezri Konsa, claims Kent Live .

The Toffees were reported to be readying a bid for the 20-year-old talent, but the Reds are now in pole position to land a player valued at £4m.

Mahrez to stay put?

Riyad Mahrez, Leicester City

Leicester remain confident that interest from the likes of Arsenal and Liverpool in Riyad Mahrez can be fended off.

Foxes boss Claude Puel, who values the Algerian at £100m, has said of a much sought-after asset: “He’s enjoying playing for Leicester with his team-mates. This is the most important thing – we have this good feeling that the player wants to stay with us.”


Barkley ‘obsessed’ with becoming world-class at Chelsea

Ross Barkley has set his sights on becoming a world-class midfielder, Chelsea’s new signing revealing he is “obsessed” with reaching the top level.

Barkley is yet to feature in any competition this season due to injury, with Chelsea paying £15 million to sign the England international from Everton this month.

The 24-year-old is in line to make his debut for the Premier League champions in their trip to Brighton and Hove Albion on Saturday.

And Barkley – who hit five league goals for the Toffees last season – believes making the switch to Stamford Bridge will be a positive step for his development.

“I am obsessed with improving,” Barkley told Sky Sports.

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“I want to get to a level where I am regarded as one of the best and coming to a club like Chelsea gives me the right platform to improve.

“I want to be regarded as a world-class midfielder. At the moment I have a lot of potential and a lot of world-class attributes and I want to showcase that at a massive club like Chelsea and win things and be regarded as a top-quality player.

“I have got to a level where I feel I needed to make the jump to Chelsea and push myself and get myself to a better level and playing with world-class players here is only going to help.

“I am ready to hit the ground running. The first half of the season dragged for me, I just wanted to kick a ball, but I am back fit and I am ready to go.”

Eden Hazard has been linked with a move away from Chelsea but Barkley believes the Belgium international is an example he can follow.

“You can’t put many players up there with Hazard,” Barkley said. “He is unbelievable, he is up there with the best in the world. 

“I have been training here for a couple of weeks and you can see how sharp he is. I am not the same type of player but if I could get anywhere near his level now I would be made up.”

Barkley scored in a behind-closed-doors friendly against QPR this week, also providing an assist in a 70-minute appearance.

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“It was a good run-out,” Barkley added. “I have settled in really well with all the lads.

“It was my first game for a while since I have been out injured and it felt good to get back out on to the pitch.

“I have had four full weeks of training now so I am feeling really fit. I feel really good and am ready to go.”


Man Utd midfielder Carrick set to retire at the end of the season

Michael Carrick will return to first-team duty at Manchester United but is set to retire from playing and become a coach at the end of the season, Jose Mourinho has confirmed.

Carrick has yet to feature in the Premier League this season, with the former England international having undergone a procedure to resolve an irregular heart rhythm discovered in his only appearance of the campaign, against Burton Albion in the Carabao Cup in September.

But the United captain took part in the club’s recent warm-weather training camp in Dubai and Mourinho believes Carrick has a part to play on the pitch before accepting a coaching role at Old Trafford.

“I think to take the decision to stop playing football at the end of the season and not last week because of being injured with some problem is a good decision for the team and a good decision for him,” Mourinho told reporters Friday.

“So we are all happy and in the end of the season I expect him to join [the coaching staff], unless he changes his mind, but the club would be very happy for him to do that.

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“I would be very happy also for him to do that. I think he will play again. After a few months without even training he is in his second week with the team. He can be a very important player for us.”

Carrick has made 460 appearances for the Red Devils, scoring 23 goals, and has won five Premier League titles, the Champions League, Europa League and an FA Cup winners’ medal.

United travel to Turf Moor to face Burnley on Saturday, with Mourinho’s men seeking to extend a seven-match unbeaten Premier League run as they attempt to chase down rivals and runaway leaders Manchester City.


It’s not easy to compete with Man City and United in the transfer market, admits Conte

Chelsea don’t find it easy to compete with the likes of Manchester City and United for top players in the transfer market, Antonio Conte hinted Friday. 

The Blues broke their transfer record this season by bringing in Alvaro Morata for £58 million, a move that could rise to £70m with the add-on involved in the deal, but they lag behind the two Manchester sides in terms of net spending during the transfer windows. 

Chelsea made a number of high-profile sales to fund spending and are now being linked with the likes of Stoke City’s Peter Crouch and West Ham’s Andy Carroll. But Conte admits that it might be tricky for the Premier League champions to keep up with some clubs on transfers. 

“This question is one for the club,” Conte said during a press conference at Cobham Training Centre. “For sure, now there are strong, big realities and it’s not simple to fight them. But I don’t know. I’m not in condition to follow up with that.

“In this moment, about Ross Barkley, I think the club took a good opportunity to buy an important player, an important English player, and not spend a lot of money. Ross’ evaluation is more than £15m.”

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Chelsea go into the Brighton game on Saturday with a 15-point gap between them and Man City, who sit in first place in the Premier League table. 

The Blues have slipped to fourth after playing to a 0-0 draw with Leicester last weekend, while Liverpool beat Man City. Conte thinks that the Premier League is the toughest league in world football, and understands how difficult it is to win the trophy.

“In every sport you have to fight if you want to reach great achievements,” Conte said. “I think in England, it’s very difficult to win the title, more than in other country. Because you start the season with six top teams trying to win the title.

“This is the only country where you can find this type of situation. At the same time, it’s very difficult to fight and find a place in the top four. Last season, Manchester United and Arsenal stayed out.

“Two seasons ago, Liverpool were out and Chelsea finished 10th. They were out. But we must be ready, we must be ready to fight for a place in the top four. It won’t be easy because every team wants to reach this target.

Ross Barkley Chelsea

“This target is very prestigious for every team because this competition, [along with] the Champions League, is the biggest in the world for clubs. We must be optimistic. There are four months to play. Good targets.

“We are in the semi-final of the Carabao Cup with the possibility of reaching the final, the fourth round of the FA Cup, the Champions League, and we’re fighting for a Champions League place in the league. We must be optimistic and continue to work. Our work must give us the right optimism.”

“At this moment, Manchester City are one of those in the Champions League places. I don’t know if they’ll win the (Premier League) or not, but they are 12 points from the second and 20 from Arsenal.”

Chelsea don’t go into the game against Brighton in great shape having played 120 minutes in the FA Cup third-round replay on Wednesday against Norwich. 

Conte saw Morata and Pedro both get sent off for two yellow cards and they will miss the game, while the manager confirmed Gary Cahill and Cesc Fabregas are out with injuries. Conte admits he’s unhappy that Pedro dived but says that he knows he has made a mistake. 

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“I think, during the game, the player can be tired, a bit tired, but Pedro’s reaction was to stand up quickly,” Conte said. “I think the player understood, at that moment, the mistake and wanted to stand up and admit it was a mistake, ‘I was a bit tired’.

Pedro Chelsea 2017

“But, sometimes we can make mistakes. The most important thing is to try and recognise the mistake and try and avoid repeating them next time. If you see, he didn’t ask for a penalty.”