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Rebuilding Arsenal is a priority

Arsenal will listen to offers for Mesut Ozil which would save around £350k a week in wages.

In Summary

• Arsenal’s new academy will play an important part in that rebuild. Finance is restricted but there will be positive steps taken by the Gunners. 

• A disappointed West Ham contact told me last night that Barcelona is set to reject approaches from manager Manuel Pellegrini for Andres Gomez and he will return to Everton where he spent last season on loan.

Arsenal's Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang celebrates with team mates after scoring during a recent match
Arsenal's Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang celebrates with team mates after scoring during a recent match
Image: /REUTERS

Two clubs need a clear-out of surplus expensive talent. While Manchester United plan the future under Ole Gunner Solskjaer and look to recruit new players, Arsenal are in much the same position after their loss to Chelsea in the Europa Cup and failure to secure Champion’s League football for next season.

Everyone accepted that the club had to change after Arsene Wenger departed. To be fair, they finished only two points behind third-placed Tottenham in the Premier League and one point behind Chelsea who secured fourth place.

However, things have not been going well at Arsenal with Chief Executive Ivan Gazidis leaving and losing their Head of Recruitment Sven Mislintat around, under whom much of the Gunner’s future strategy was intended to be built.

The case of losing Aaron Ramsey for nothing is typical of the poor management of players.

Having talked with several influential people at the club, I can tell you that there will be more players leaving this summer and Arsenal are looking for younger talent so that a solid foundation can be built under manager Unai Emery rather than relying on older well-known names.

Arsenal’s new academy will play an important part in that rebuild. Finance is restricted but there will be positive steps taken by the Gunners.

However, fans might have to wait a couple of seasons before seriously challenging again for top spot. Chinese clubs Guangzhou Evergrande and Shanghai are chasing joint Golden Boot winner Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang but Arsenal’s board have indicated that they will increase his £190k-a-week salary to keep him.

I know for a fact that the player himself is happy living in North London and has given the Chinese no encouragement. As part of his current deal, he also receives a £3.75million loyalty bonus for every season completed with the Gunners.

Arsenal will listen to offers for Mesut Ozil which would save around £350k a week in wages.

With that sort of money available, Arsenal’s board will also provide around £40million for player investment but overall the club does not have a large amount of money to spend because they missed out on Champion’s League.

Ex-player Freddie Ljungberg has been coaching the under 23s and has impressed Unai Emery. The manager has promoted him to first-team coaching starting when the players return from their summer break.

How Liverpool trained to beat Tottenham in CL

Liverpool’s defeat of Tottenham in the Champion’s League was decisive and their style of play against the north London side very effective. Now, I can reveal just how Liverpool trained to be so effective against Spurs.

At their Marbella training camp in Spain the Reds played a friendly match against a Benfica B side from Portugal.

They were chosen because they could play like Tottenham and adopted their style so the Reds could work out moves to stop Harry Kane and co.

Benfica’s Vinicus (Ferreira) adopted Christian Eriksen’s role and Bernado copied Dele Ali. Striker Jose Gomes was Kane. Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp then asked Benfica to play a 4-2-3-1 shape with two midfielders dropping close to the centre-backs during a strike build up.

The idea was to pass the ball between two centre-backs and the goalkeeper and draw Tottenham players forward and then attack the space they left behind. Benfica also copied Spur’s set-pieces and two specific attacking and defensive moves.

When asked why Liverpool had picked a Portugese team to practice against, the Benfica manager replied: “They couldn’t pick an English team due to information leaks, they couldn’t pick a Spanish team because manager Mauricio Pochettino spent many years in Spain and has a lot of contacts, they couldn’t pick a French team because Hugo Lloris is the French goalkeeper so they picked us, a Portugese team!

News from Manchester City

Since telling you about the possibility of Leroy Sane being lured away by Bayern Munich because he cannot get a guarantee from manager Pep Guardiola that he will start more matches next season, the club have been informed that his agent is talking to the German team and they are preparing a bid of £70million.

Sane’s contract finishes in June 2020 and no agreement has been made to renew it despite the efforts of City to keep him. Sane is the ideal replacement for Bayern’s Arjen Robben or Franck Ribery, two world class wingers who are nearing the end of their careers.

Meanwhile, there has not been any agreement to resign Ilkay Gundogan either. The German midfielder has 12 months left on his contract but has failed to reach agreement on renewing it.

City normally sells players who stall on renewing their contracts but in Gundogan’s case they are willing to let his contract run down and let him leave for nothing next year. I am told this is the decision of club chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak.

Llorente heads for Spain

Despite a good display in getting Tottenham Hotspur past Manchester City in the Champion’s League, I am told that Fernando Llorente will probably leave White Hart Lane when his contract runs out in a few weeks. The former Athletico Bilbao and Sevilla forward earns £100k a week but is now 34 years old. Tottenham would rather spend that money bringing in a younger player as manager Pochettino strengthens his squad. Llorente wants to continue playing and favours a move back to Spain.

Gomes disappoints Hammers

A disappointed West Ham contact told me last night that Barcelona is set to reject approaches from manager Manuel Pellegrini for Andres Gomez and he will return to Everton where he spent last season on loan.

The Hammers have been negotiating with Barca and I understand a bid of £25million is on the table. The 25-year-old Portuguese was seen as crucial to strengthening West Ham’s midfield and I understand that Newcastle’s Jonjo Shelvey is a possible alternative to Gomes.

My French contact rang me the other night to say that Liverpool’s nearby neighbours Everton are negotiating with agents for Paris St Germain’s Adrien Rabiot who could leave the French side for free as his contract expires.

Lampard should wait to manage Chelsea

 

Several football commentators have remarked that now is not the time for Chelsea to replace Maurizio Sarri with home legend Frank Lampard. The fan’s favourite has had a spectacular first season of management with Derby County despite failing to win promotion in a disappointing loss to Aston Villa in the Wembley play-off.

Former teammate Darren Bent, who played for England with Lampard, said: “I know there are Chelsea fans who would put him in charge at Stamford Bridge tomorrow and I would agree that Frank is destined to manage at the top level. But you are talking a different animal at Chelsea — the step up is massive.

We’ve seen a lot of managers, who have been around a lot longer than Frank, go there and fail. And we know it is not a forgiving club and patience wears thin very quickly if you are not winning titles and trophies. Within a year or 18 months, you are out!

Mikel warns against playing in China

I was always a fan of Chelsea midfielder John Obi Mikel and regretted that he left the Premier League to carry on his career in China. In a personal interview, Mikel has been explaining why moving to China for big money was not his best decision.

He admits that the club he moved to, Tianjin Teda FC, are not at the top of Asian football. However, they are a respected team. What John Obi found when he arrived was a club which lacked the facilities he was used to.

A poor playing surface, a problem with the food, below standard medical facilities and a poor stadium. Leaving his family for two years with visits only every few months also hit him hard.

He said that the American MLS league is way ahead of China and despite the huge amounts of money being offered to attract players from the Premier League, that money is spent on players and not the infrastructure to improve the all-round game.

After two years he weighed up his options and returned to the UK with Middlesborough in the Championship. He has had to train hard to get back to the level he performed at when playing for Chelsea because, as he puts it, Chinese football is a level below the Championship League.

I wish him well and at 31 years of age, he still has plenty to offer. His advice to other players tempted to go east is to think about it very seriously, go to China and check everything out because it is not all bright lights and for a player under 30 and in their prime, it is not worth it.