•Following in the footsteps of Heung Son-Min as a South Korean star of Asian football, is centre-half Kim Min-jae
•Frank Lampard is not pleasing Chelsea fans at the moment in his search for a left back.
When Mikel Arteta signed his name on a contract to manage Arsenal, he realised that the job was going to be tough and he needed to reverse a trend which had seen a great club rapidly decline.
So far things are not going well. I went to discover what action is being discussed inside Arsenal in the light of recent disasters. The Ozil problem is a good place to start and the club management has recognised that it was a mistake to sign the German for such a huge salary because of the effect on other player contracts.
A case in point is Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang who is stalling on resigning because he feels he gives more to the Gunners than Ozil and earns less. Arsenal just do not have Ozil’s kind of money to spend again after Covid-19.
I can reveal that, despite incorrect media reports, manager Mikel Arteta phoned Ozil prior to the City game and explained that he would not be involved because of tactics. But in truth, Arteta felt Ozil was not sharp enough and had not demonstrated enough energy and commitment in training. Ozil tweeted, after the 3-0 defeat “No matter what,” as he held the badge. That sort of arrogance was also demonstrated by Matteo Guendouzi after the Brighton defeat when he grabbed Neal Maupay’s throat. It is like a bad streak running through the club. Arteta said, “It is not about the characters it is about how you compete in a Premier League match and it is for 100 minutes. It is for every ball, it is for every action and the moment you lose attention the opponent is going to punish you.”
I can reveal that the emerging plan is to focus on improving the younger players as quickly as possible but mould them with a different attitude, mindset and approach. That is Arteta’s long term plan. That is one reason why the manager and Technical Director Edu wanted to keep David Luiz around and give him a years extension to his expiring contract. The youngsters look up to Luiz and listen to him and he is full of positives as a leader.
18-year-old Bukayo Saka is already showing his potential but Arsenal will lose him if they do not tie him down to a long contract. Guendouzi, I can tell you, divides opinion inside the Emirates. Is he the answer to Arteta’s problems? Not on his recent performances and misbehavior pattern and I can tell you that Arteta is fed up with bringing him back into line.
For instance, he was once caught on cctv doing a silly dance behind the manager’s back during training. It wasn’t Arteta but he does know all about it and was not amused.
Players who are holding Arteta’s attention and will be among the foundation blocks for the new Arsenal are are Saka, Gabriel Martinelli, Joe Willock, Reiss Nelson and Ainsley Maitland-Miles. These are his stars of tomorrow and the job of building them up has started with more youngsters to follow. Arteta knows his reputation is on the line.
Frank says Kante is going nowhere
There has been speculation regarding N’Golo Kante leaving Chelsea. This has been fuelled by his constant injury problems and his
Covid-19 lockdown worries which prevented him from returning to full time training with the other players and then keeping himself isolated in training. However, I can tell you for certain that N’Golo is going nowhere.
Frank Lampard talks of his midfielder as one of the best in the world and romances the idea that he and N’Golo would have been great playing together. He said this week, “Coming back to Chelsea and having N’Golo Kante is something I really appreciate and want to work with. He is a great player and has everything. And he is not going anywhere except Stamford Bridge.” So now you know from the manager’s own mouth!
Everton track Asian star
Following in the footsteps of Heung Son-Min as a South Korean star of Asian football, is centre-half Kim Min-jae. Nicknamed “The Monster” because of his 6ft 3in height and ability to muscle opposing forwards off the ball he is a dominant presence in the penalty area. I understand that Everton are keeping a close watch on his progress and would be prepared to meet the £13.5million transfer fee which his club, Chinese Super League’s Beijing Guoan, have decided is his value.
Saints up for sale Southampton are in trouble financially and could be forced to sell their best players because of huge losses during the coronavirus lockdown. The club is 80 per cent owned by Chinese businessman Gao Jisheng and he has dropped his selling price for the club by £30million to £150million. The problem for Southampton is that if he is not able to secure a sale then his plan is to sell off some of the top players because he has stated that he will not invest more finance into the Saints.
The club need to find £100million to cover present debts and top scorer Danny Ings, Nathan Redmond and midfielder James Ward-Prowse could all be in the shop window.
Chelsea’s search for a left back
Frank Lampard is not pleasing Chelsea fans at the moment in his search for a left back. Both Emerson Palmieri and Marcos Alonso have taken it in turn to fill the position but Frank wants a player who he can automatically name on the Saturday morning team sheet. Alonso for my money is a great player and he would be my choice however the manager doesn’t agree and uses him sparingly.
Chelsea fans are pleased that Leicester City’s England international Ben Chilwell is the first choice as the player to sign but his £80million price tag is way above what Chelsea are willing to pay.
Looking around, Paris St-Germain defender Layvin Kurzawa has caught the eye of Lampard. He was linked with Arsenal in January but that did not come to anything and now he is available for free this summer when his contract with the French club expires. The 27 year-old has previously played for Monaco and also gained 13 caps for France. However, Chelsea fans have been sending messages to Lampard expressing their disappointment in the choice of Kurzawa and making a case for Chilwell as a better investment.
Gini’s admiration for Milner
Taking a rest in training, Liverpool’s Gini Wijnaldum has been praising the one player who he says sets the standards at Liverpool. Gini was full of praise this week for James Milner who ‘always gives 100 per cent and never gives himself an easy ride’.
Milner arrived at Liverpool on a free transfer in 2015 and has since played 210 times for the Reds, scoring 26 times with many goals coming from penalties. Liverpool have just honoured the 34 year-old with a new contract which guarantees him employment until 2022.
He is also vice-captain of the club. Wijnaldum said of Milner: “The engine that guy has is unbelievable. I see it in games and in training. He’s non-stop and playing against him in training is really tough.”
If you need to find the reason behind Liverpool’s tremendous performance this year, then look no further than James Milner for the true professional.
Fraser says no to Bournemouth
Bournemouth look to be in a relegation battle which they are not going to win. To make matters worse, their star winger Ryan Fraser has turned down an offer to help out the club by staying beyond his June 30th contract expiry. Cherries fans are furious at Ryan for turning his back on the club and last Saturday manager Eddie Howe dropped him and said he will not figure again this season. Crystal Palace boss Roy Hodgson and Watford’s Nigel Pearson both want Fraser and approaches have been made to him.
Update on Spurs players
I have learned that Tottenham have offered 33-year-old Jan Vertonghen a one-year extension to his contract which expires on June 30th. Full backs Danny Rose at Newcastle and Kyle Walker-Peters at Southampton are expected to remain with their on-loan clubs and the deals will continue until the end of the season.
Frank’s doesn’t match Sarri
I was listening to several Chelsea fans this week who were complaining about the Blues current position although it does not look bad to me. They pointed out that compared with last season under Maurizio Sarri, the Blues have 11 points fewer, scored one less goal and conceded nine more goals. The Chelsea fans also describe new signing Timo Werner as the miracle worker. There will be a lot of responsibility on the young man’s shoulders.
Players look for top dogs
Many of the top Premier League stars are looking to protect themselves as they become targets for criminals who recognise that the highly paid stars have valuables at home which are worth stealing.
The latest to be subjected to a break-in was Dele Ali when he and his girlfriend were threatened as robbers stole goods from their house. Now Manchester City’s Riyad Mahrez has been robbed of watches and jewellery worth nearly half a million pounds. Previously Arsenal’s Mesut Ozil and Sead Kolasinac have been attacked and also Tottenham’s Jan Vertonghen and Crystal Palace’s Marmadou Sakho.
Some stars are buying highly trained guard dogs and Aston Villa’s Jack Grealish paid £25k for a Belgian Malinois dog. The time is coming when players are transferred and their new contracts specify their salaries, security contracts and the dog of their choice!