Arsenal’s Nacho Monreal reportedly close to La Liga return

Reports stemming from the Spanish media today suggest that Arsenal defender Nacho Monreal is close to a move to Real Sociedad.

Arsenal stint

33-year-old left-back Monreal has been on the books at the Emirates for 6 years now.

The veteran joined Arsenal from Malaga in January of 2013, since going on to play a key role in the club’s fortunes.

After working his way into a starting role under Arsene Wenger during his debut campaign in north London, Monreal’s increasingly-impressive displays over the years that followed eventually led to the Spaniard cementing himself as a mainstay in the Gunners’ backline.

Perfectly summing up his importance to the Arsenal cause was the fact that, between 2015 and 2017, Monreal started in 71 of the capital giants’ 76 Premier League fixtures.

The last couple of seasons, particularly 2018/19, though, have seen the stopper’s game-time begin to dip.

Amid competition from Sead Kolasinac, Monreal started in just 21 of Arsenal’s league outings last time out.

The 22-time capped Spanish international’s age also appears to be slowly catching up with him, with Monreal’s performances often lacking when compared to his form of the past.

Nacho Monreal

Nacho Monreal of Arsenal reacts during the Premier League match between Arsenal and Crystal Palace at Emirates Stadium on January 20, 2018 in London, England. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)

La Liga return?

As such, despite having been handed starts by Unai Emery in the Gunners’ first two outings of the new season, Monreal’s stint at the Emirates could be set to come to an imminent close.

Reports stemming from Spain this afternoon suggest that Real Sociedad are closing on a deal for the 33-year-old.

With Sead Kolasinac having returned to the Arsenal fold last weekend, and Kieran Tierney having completed a deadline day move to north London from Scottish champions Celtic, Monreal could well be viewed as expendable by the Gunners’ brass.

And Onda Vasca, since backed by Mundo Deportivo, have today claimed that this is very much the case.

In fact, it is suggested that the experienced stopper’s move to Real Sociedad could be completed ‘in the next hours’.

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Toni Rudiger – Now irreplaceable at Chelsea?


Chelsea’s much talked about start to life under Frank Lampard has had everyone talking. We have seen glimpses of our potential but at the same time have seen that with Gary Cahill & David Luiz gone, there is a real lack of leadership and let’s face it, absolute might in our defending which has led to some alarming moments at the back. One thing has been made clear to me in all this – Toni Rudiger is now irreplaceable. 

Yes it’s a big statement to make bearing in mind that Rudiger only came to the fore at Chelsea last season. Before that, he was brought in and found it difficult to make a real impact. The German defender had shown in Italy that he was flexible and could play as a full-back or through the middle which gives him an advantage other most and sure enough, last season he showed everyone the reason why Chelsea signed him.

He isn’t the biggest or has the most imposing frame for a defender but he is lean and fast which is always a bonus playing in that position. What surprised me more than anything was the fact that he is strong, he is imposing and he is not afraid to put himself about whilst at times flying into tackles that, if you were up against him, you would not want to go into.

For me, in my eyes anyway, he is pure out and out defender whose objective is to defend that 18-yard box as though his life depends on it, to then go and impose himself in the oppositions penalty box from set-pieces to hopefully score now and then. There is no questions being asked of him playing out of the back, no reason for him to move into midfield with the ball to start our counter-attacks. It’s all about the art of defending with that German efficiency installed within from a young age.

I believe (as stated on here previously this season) that Andreas Christensen has made one of those central defensive positions his own with his ability to read the game and play almost on the cover. His game isn’t about doing the dirty work but to try and stay one step ahead of his direct opponent to stop them which is why I believe playing next to Toni Rudiger gives us the perfect combination at the heart of our defence.

With Kurt Zouma’s shaky start against Manchester United (but better performances against Liverpool and Leicester last weekend) and the number of goals we have conceded, it’s clear for me anyway that he is not the answer at the moment in addition to Fikayo Tomori who needs exposure to the Premier League on a regular basis to find his feet before he is thrown in.

Toni Rudiger really, really impressed me last season with his desire and hunger to defend. He isn’t afraid to go one-on-one with his opponent, he will not duck out of any tackles and will impose himself in tight situations whether it’s defending balls into the box or to stand-up and hold his position on the edge of the box. As I said, his pace is an added bonus as he demonstrated numerous times coming out wide to close people down and to win the ball. Most importantly of all, he is a talker on the pitch and my god, do we need that at the moment!

That’s why I believe that Toni Rudiger has become irreplaceable at Chelsea and will, without doubt, make the position his own playing his part in the stable core of the team along with Kepa and N’Golo Kante who at the moment are classed as the same. If only we could now find a striker!

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Official: Napoli sign €40 million Hirving ‘Chucky’ Lozano

Serie A giants Napoli have today confirmed the signing of highly-regarded attacker Hirving Lozano from PSV Eindhoven.

PSV standout

24-year-old wide-man Lozano joined Eredivisie outfit PSV from Pachuca in the summer of 2017, since going on to make a lasting impression in the Netherlands.

Despite playing out wide, Lozano, known more commonly as ‘Chucky’, racked up 10 goals and 3 assists in his first 12 appearances in the Dutch top-flight, eventually finishing his debut season in Europe with 19 goals and 11 assists across all competitions.

The fleet-footed attacker of course then proved the star attraction of an impressive Mexico side at last summer’s World Cup:

Lozano often struggled to rediscover his best form this past season, but perfectly showcasing just how gifted the Pachuca youth product truly is was the fact that he nevertheless managed to directly contribute to 33 goals.

Napoli switch

As such, rumours had inevitably begun to mount once again this summer that Lozano was being eyed by some of Europe’s top clubs.

The likes of Manchester United and AS Roma were touted as potential destinations, though one outfit had long remained outright front-runners to actually clinch a deal for the Mexican.

The side in question, meanwhile, were Napoli.

The Partenopei are known to have been on the lookout for attacking reinforcements this summer.

Having failed to strike deals for either James Rodriguez or Nicolas Pepe (who has since joined Arsenal), though, Lozano remained one of few realistic targets for Carlo Ancelotti’s men.

And, on the back of weeks of mounting speculation, the 24-year-old’s move to the Stadio San Paolo has today finally been made official.

Lozano has put pen-to-paper on a 5-year deal with Napoli, after a fee worth a rumoured 40 million Euro was agreed upon with PSV:

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Liverpool ‘Set To Sign Most Lucrative Premier League Kit Deal In History

Liverpool are close to signing a new Premier League record kit deal, according to Forbes.

Spanish giants Barcelona earn the most from kit deals in world football raking in a whopping £100million a year.

Manchester United lead the way in the Premier League though as they currently earn £75m a year with adidas but the Reds are believed to be about to top that.

Jurgen Klopp’s side are into the fifth and final season of their current contract with New Balance that is worth £45m per year.

The New Balance partnership has generally been seen as a resounding success. Their 2017/2018 season kit was their highest selling in the club’s history at the time, but was then eclipsed by last season’s jersey, which has been a massive hit with fans.

But the current deal is only the fourth highest in the Premier League.

Behind United, come City – who signed a £65m-per-year deal with Puma earlier this year – while Chelsea are paid £60m a year to work with Nike.

North London duo Arsenal and Tottenham both have £30m-a-year deals with Puma and Nike respecively.

The Reds’ recent successes in Europe, challenging for the Premier League title and their wide, global fan base makes them an exciting proposition for potential suitors.

Liverpool have reportedly also held talks with Puma and adidas in recent months but Nike are the front-runners to land the Anfield club.

A clause in New Balance’s contract means they have the right to match any potential new offer and extend their deal.

But any a new deal is expected to be the most lucrative in Premier League history and a further demonstration of the rebirth of Liverpool under Jurgen Klopp.

The Reds are currently eighth on their ‘Soccer Rich List’ with a current valuation of $2.183billion, sitting behind Arsenal , Chelsea , City, Bayern Munich, United, Barcelona and money bags Real Madrid .

Liverpool had a 12 per cent value increase last year, have a three per cent debt value, revenue of $613m and an operating income of $128m.

Earlier this year, leading football finance expert Kieran Maguire discussed how their stunning season could see them close the financial gap to United through a combination of factors.

“I think they can certainly narrow it,” said Maguire, speaking on a special Blood Red podcast .

“If you look at the most recent results, for 2018, Liverpool were £135m behind Manchester United , and that’s a pretty big gap to narrow, but the success that Liverpool have had this season will probably have knocked off about £40-50m off that, there will have been bonuses paid by Standard Chartered and Western Union, who are the senior partners in terms of shirt sponsorship, so that will have kicked in as well.

“But I think the areas which Liverpool very much had to address the gap between themselves and United were first of all matchday income, and by getting to the Champions League final, it means Liverpool played more matches than Manchester United at home, so therefore they would have been picking up gate receipts with increased frequency, and they would have been able to charge premium prices, especially the knockout rounds, to hospitality partners, so that would have benefitted.

“But Liverpool had already managed to reduce the gap as a result of expanding of the main stand, and they could narrow that further if they decide to go to a 60,000-capacity stadium.

“The other area, generating commercial income, is the one where Manchester United were the smartest kids on the block.

“The approach they took was to go to individual countries and say, ‘would you like to be our official supplier of mobile phones in Thailand, in Indonesia, and then in Japan’, and Liverpool have started to copy that model.

“But what Liverpool can offer partners, and what Manchester United can’t, is to be able to say, ‘by the way, do you want your photo taken with the Champions League trophy this season?’ Which is very, very attractive.

“It has also been discussed in the Echo and in other media outlets that the club’s shirt manufacturing deal is due for renewal in 12 months.

“They’ll be negotiating on that and I think Liverpool will be able to effectively reduce the gap to either a negligible amount, nothing at all, or perhaps even nip in ahead of United. United generate £75m a season from Adidas, but because Liverpool have got the history and the heritage, and the six European Cup to offer, they are in a position to be able to sell shirts around the world, in a similar way to United.

“United are a global brand and a global club and Liverpool are very much there with them these days as a result of the achievements under Jurgen Klopp and, of course, the history and heritage that came before that.”

Javi Gracia gives updates on Sarr & Welbeck before West Ham

Watford vs West Ham

Watford have not had the best of starts to the 2019/20 campaign.

Javi Gracia’s side are currently bottom of the Premier League after two games played on -4 goal difference.

They are also just one of four sides to have not picked up a single point in their opening two games, losing vs Brighton and Everton.

This weekend sees the Hornets face 16th place West Ham, who like Watford, are going in search of their first league win this season.

Rennes’ Senegalese midfielder Ismaila Sarr takes part in training session at the Stade de France, in Saint-Denis, north of Paris on April 26, 2019, on the eve of the French Cup final football match between Paris Saint-Germain and Stade Rennais Football Club. (Photo by Anne-Christine POUJOULAT / AFP) (Photo credit should read ANNE-CHRISTINE POUJOULAT/AFP/Getty Images)

Sarr & Welbeck

On Friday, Watford confirmed that Troy Denney will miss several weeks of action after undergoing knee surgery.

With one of their top forwards out of action, Watford fans may have been hoping their new signings can help them out up top.

Danny Welbeck came off the bench for Watford vs Everton this past weekend while Ismaila Sarr has yet to feature for them.

Ahead of the West Ham clash, Gracia spoke about both Welbeck and Sarr:

“They are training well [Sarr and Welbeck].

 “Both are training with the team. Both are not in the best condition but most important in this moment is that they can help us. I’m sure they cannot play all the minutes, but they can help us in the next performance.

“He [Welbeck] needs more time to train and recover his best condition. We’ll see. [Starting him] doesn’t depend on one reason – there are many circumstances as to whether he starts the next one or the next one.

“Sarr is the player that needs more training but from the first session you can see his quality.” As quoted by Watford’s official website.

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Jorginho and Kovacic – Written off but now more important than ever for Chelsea?


Both Jorginho and Mateo Kovacic were written off and backed to leave Chelsea this past summer after indifferent seasons, despite our third placed finish and Europa League win in Baku. Now under Frank Lampard and his young squad, have both become key figures of the team and more important than ever?

There will be those amongst the Chelsea faithful that beg to differ when it comes to one or both of them and I do get and understand that based on last season and how both individually performed. During the past summer there were plenty of calls for both to sold because of different reasons. With Jorginho it was inability to defend the deeper lying position in our midfield and protect our back four, and with Mateo Kovacic the argument was that he offered little by way of assists or a goal-scoring threat from that area of the pitch. It looked like both would leave under the new regime.

As we know Chelsea took up the option to sign Mateo Kovacic on a permanent deal, being able to despite the transfer ban as he had already been registered with Chelsea last season making it clear that he was of value to the club and to Frank Lampard who would have had discussions with the club about the Croatian midfielder before the deal was completed.

As for Jorginho? We all expected Maurizio Sarri to make his move to be reunited with the Italian play maker for a third time by taking him back to Italy and Juventus. Nothing happened, Jorginho reported for pre-season training and has subsequently distanced himself from the opinion that he is a Maurizio Sarri player who is at Chelsea – but Jorginho the Chelsea player.

For more on Jorginho personally (who I think has been outstanding so far) then have a look at the article I wrote about him earlier this week here – “Jorginho – Shackles off at Chelsea this season under Frank Lampard”, it’s well worth a read in my humble opinion.

As for Mateo Kovacic? I think he doesn’t get the credit he deserves, is underrated and has been outstanding for us in those last few months of last season, to the beginning of this one. His work-rate is fabulous and the ground he covers with/without the ball on that pitch cannot be underestimated. If you then add his ability with the ball at his feet to the equation then I believe him to be different class. Real Madrid saw what he brings to the table so there is a real belief in his quality. As with Jorginho, I believe he will continue to grow into the player we all know he can be by adding goals and assists to his game.

Back to the both of them now and the question raised in the subject of this blog post. You look at our central midfield options now and it’s clear that Ross Barkley and Ruben Loftus-Cheek are more attacking players. Mason Mount is the same and let’s face it, Tiemoue Bakayoko is not fancied at all by Frank Lampard with the Frenchman expected to make a move away from Chelsea before the transfer window closes (despite a move being rejected this week).

That leaves N’Golo Kante as the additional option for me in our midfield and it’s already interesting to see that Frank Lampard has chosen to play Kante in a similar position to that of last season, not to sit deep in front of our back four at this early stage. However, what is important to remember is that it’s still early stages and you use these early weeks to try different things to work towards finding the right balance for the team.

Both the 4-2-3-1 and 4-3-3 formations have been used and based on our two Premier League performances so far, not forgetting how we dominated Liverpool in the Super Cup Final, it’s seems to me that we are better suited to adopt the 4-3-3 formation giving us a better balance between defence, midfield and attack. If that is the case, and thinking of just how important the next couple of Premier League games are starting with Norwich tomorrow, the midfield combination of Jorginho and Mateo Kovacic playing alongside N’Golo Kante has to be the solution right now.

What do you think? Jorginho and Mateo Kovacic now more important than at any stage in a Chelsea shirt?

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Emery on Mustafi & Elneny: ‘I think it’s positive for them to leave’

Mustafi & Elneny’s Arsenal future’s looking uncertain

Both Shkodran Mustafi and Mohamed Elneny didn’t have great 2018/19’s at Arsenal.

Elneny doesn’t seem to have impressed Unai Emery since he took over.

The midfielder made just eight Premier League appearances last season, only one of which saw him complete 90 minutes.

As for Mustafi, he played more than Elneny, managing 31 league outings this past term.

However, the German often put in subpar displays, leading to criticism.

Now, in a recent interview, Unai Emery has made it public that he thinks it’s positive if the duo sign for new teams:

“Elneny and Mustafi know their situation in the squad. 

“Really, I want players to be happy here. I want players to be protagonists here. Last year, for example, with Mustafi and with Mo, when they did not play, they were not happy. 

“I spoke with them a lot of times last year and in this pre-season. I think it’s positive for them to leave and to sign for another team where they can be protagonists, they can be happy and they can continue in their careers as very big players. They are very big players. 

“But here for one circumstance or another circumstances they are going to have less chances to show their capacity or to be happy with us taking minutes in matches.” As quoted by the Telegraph.

According to the Telegraph, Elneny has been linked with a move to Galatasaray while Mustafi has been linked with AS Roma.

Arsenal manager Unai Emery gestures on the touchline during the Premier League match at The Emirates Stadium, London. (Photo by Yui Mok/PA Images via Getty Images)

Liverpool vs Arsenal

Given what Emery has had to say about Mustafi and Elneny transferring, it is unlikely they will be starting in their next game.

Arsenal travel to Liverpool in Saturday’s late kick-off.

Liverpool are currently top of the Premier League table, having won both of their opening fixtures.

The only other side to do so this season is second-place Arsenal.

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Callum Hudson-Odoi's £200K per week Chelsea contract – justified or ridiculous?


According to various reports, Callum Hudson-Odoi is to sign a new five-year contract to stay at Chelsea worth a reported £200,000 per week. Is this a justified move by Chelsea with his value set to soar during that period, or is this simply ridiculous?

Without question it’s made everyone sit up and take notice because of the fact that Chelsea would agree to such a figure for someone so young. We all knew that Bayern Munich attempted to sign him last season and had reportedly offered £40m which was rejected by Chelsea, that was because he is believed to be the natural successor to Eden Hazard within two or three seasons. They have high hopes in Hudson-Odoi but to agree a contract for that amount this early in his career??

With any big signing for the football club there is an element of risk involved. You hope that the player will come in and fit in first and foremost, then to develop while they are here whilst proving to have a positive impact around the squad and on the football pitch. You have decided to invest in them personally in the hope that they can deliver what is needed.

In some cases they are brought in for an average fee, on average wages with a promise of being rewarded based on their overall performances. However, there are those who are different, who are considered with match-winners or those who are worth their weight in gold for what they bring to the team. Those who are paid the big bucks!

With someone from your own Academy, the situation is different if you think about it. They come through the ranks and if they prove themselves in training every day they are rewarded with the opportunity to train with the first-team to then hopefully develop and eventually become part of that group.

If, thinking of the likes of Ruben Loftus-Cheek, you are given the opportunity to go out on loan and given first-team experience on a regular basis and respond to that in a positive manner whilst demonstrating that you are ready to be given the opportunity at Chelsea, then look what happens. As the player shows progress and continues to grow as a footballer, they are given improved contracts – maybe not huge but average until they get to the point where RLC is now – to then be awarded with a big contract because let’s face it, they have earned it by the time that they become an important part of our first-team.

This is why it’s so unheard of to offer CHO the contract that Chelsea are reportedly doing. He has only really featured for Chelsea last season when Bayern Munich came calling, despite his immense talent. He has never had any other experience of first-team football on loan. You have to wonder if he would have been fast tracked as he has been if they never showed an interest. I wonder if CHO would have been earmarked to spend this season out on loan in the Championship first, then the Premier League next season to give him the first-team experience he needs?

It’s clear that Chelsea and Frank Lampard are doing everything they can to keep him here and Frank has spoken in his press conferences of the same. Would be or anyone ever expect for that amount of money? The problem is that there will be immense pressure on him to deliver almost straight away due to his wages alone. The possibility of giving him time to adjust to playing in the Premier League week-in, week out has gone and he will be expected to be up there with the very best who earn similar wages.

There will be an argument that he is too young and it’s too much too soon so it’s important that he has the right people around him, surrounds himself with those who will keep him grounded and that he has the right attitude in these next couple of seasons which are now massive for him.

Chelsea have agreed to pay him a massive amount of money in order for him to be here for the next five-years. Without doubt, if his attitude during that time remains right, if he continues to focus on his game to develop consistently over time, he will be worth every single penny, the mind boggles at just how much he could be potentially worth in three or four seasons.

So, I am asking you the Chelsea fan or football fan for that matter, is the £200,000 per week contract for the next five-years justified or ridiculous?

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Liverpool To Expand Capacity Of Liverpool Again

Two Champions League final appearances in row have increased demand to see Jurgen Klopp’s side and Liverpool have announced an ambitious plan that will see Anfield redeveloped again to increase its capacity to more than 60,000.

Anfield’s capacity stands at 54,074 following the £115million main stand project, which was completed in 2016.

Fenway Sports Group, Liverpool’s owners, have been looking at ways to get more fans inside the stadium and first raised the prospect of redeveloping the Anfield Road end when they lodged their planning application to renovate the main stand.

However, Liverpool had the potential to take it to over 58,000 had they stuck to their plans, which are due to expire next month.

But they allowed that planning permission to lapse as FSG want to take Anfield beyond 60,000 seats, which will put is matchday revenue closer to that of rivals Manchester United and Manchester City.

Andy Hughes, Liverpool’s chief operating officer, said:

‘The progress that has been made during ongoing feasibility studies has resulted in us being in a position to allow the outline planning permission to lapse.

‘We are committed to working with local residents, planning officials and others as we now focus on the detail behind any proposed redevelopment for Anfield Road.’

Liverpool faced opposition from local residents when they built the new main stand and, in a statement, the club said it was ‘committed to engaging with the local community and other key stakeholders while pursuing a vision in keeping with the club’s aspirations’.

Will Luis Suarez’ Be The First Marquee Signing For Inter Miami

Luis Suarez Inter MIami

David Beckham is reportedly targeting Barcelona forward Luis Suarez to be his first marquee signing at MLS side Inter Miami.

The club have already signed two players – Matias Pellegrini and Julian Carranza – as they continue to make additions ahead of their first MLS campaign next year.

Inter Miami have been linked to Paris Saint-Germain forward Edinson Cavani and are now keen on former Liverpool striker Suarez, according to Mundo Deportivo.

The Uruguay international, who has two years left remaining on his current deal at the Nou Camp, is reportedly interested in the Inter Miami project in the long term.

The 32-year-old has been hindered by injuries in the previous two campaigns and picked up another setback in Barcelona’s first La Liga game of the season last weekend.

Suarez had to be substituted after injuring his calf as Ernesto Valverde’s side lost 1-0 to Athletic Bilbao.

The club are yet to appoint a manager but former Manchester United and Everton boss David Moyes revealed he would consider taking charge of Inter Miami earlier this month.

‘It is something which looks a really interesting project,’ he told talkSPORT.

Beckham was given a headache this week after a report found Inter Miami’s stadium site had twice the legal limit of arsenic contamination which could cost $50million to clean up.