Liverpool test Newcastle resolve with Clichy offer

Reports last night across the British media claim that Gael Clichy has been the subject of a £5 million bid from Liverpool.

Kenny Dalglish is known to be on the lookout for a left-back ahead of the new season and is thought to be an admirer of the French international. While Clichy represents an attractive option for the Reds speculation abounds that Newcastle United’s Enrique remains the Anfield side’s number one target for the position.

In a game of brinksmanship it is now thought that Liverpool have leaked their interest in Clichy to provoke the Magpies into lowering their high asking price for the Spaniard. Having been held to ransom by Mike Ashley in January over the £35 million signing of Andy Carroll, new Reds owners Fenway Sports Group have indicated they will take a more stubborn line in negotiations this time around.

With only one year left on his contract, and having so far rejected the chance to extend his stay in North London on lucrative new terms, Clichy does appear open to life away from the Emirates. Nevertheless, with several clubs on the continent including Juventus, Inter Milan and Bayern Munich all tipped as potential suitors, the £5 million bid lodged by the Liverpool looks likely to comprehensively surpassed.

If Clichy does walk away from Arsenal after eight years at the club, Arsenal fans will no doubt expect to see Arsene Wenger sign an experienced replacement with question marks still surrounding the future suitability of England under-21 star Kieran Gibbs and Frenchman Armand Traore.

While Gibbs has been tipped for a bright future at the top of the game, his repeated struggles with injury hints that he cannot yet be expected to fulfil his duties on a week-to-week basis. Traore meanwhile came close to signing for Benfica last summer before opting to spend a season on loan in Serie A with Italian giants Juventus. Despite making his debut in 2006 his progress at the Emirates has been consistently undermined by lacklustre performances in the first team and he looks more likely to follow Clichy out of the club rather than replace his compatriot in the first team.

Everton’s Leighton Baines and Celtic’s Emilio Izaguirre have both been mentioned as possible replacements, although with suitors circling Samir Nasri and Cesc Fabregas the first concern for Arsene Wenger will be keeping his star players at the Emirates.

 

Pique and Iniesta continue personal crusade to court Fabregas

It will come as little surprise to Arsenal fans that Barcelona’s Gerard Pique has once again spoken publically about his desire to play alongside Cesc Fabregas at the Nou Camp.

The Spanish centre-back, who grew up with the talismanic midfielder at La Masia, has long been a public advocate of a raid on the Emirates often providing sound bites for hungry media men in his homeland.

The former Manchester United man’s latest quotes come hot off the heels of a recent picture, posted on Twitter ahead of the Champions League final, in which he and teammate Gerard Pique were seen snatching a picture of Fabregas from the wall of the Arsenal training ground.

Quoted by The Sun, the 24-year-old made clear that his desire to see his friend wearing the famous shirt of the Catalan giants remained strong: “I would like him to. It’s my wish for that to happen. I can’t be clearer.

“He is a Barcelona fan and has been his whole life and he would love to come. It would be very, very good for us.

“Last year it looked like he would come but he didn’t. Now it looks like he could again but we have to wait. I hope the people in the offices can work well and can bring him in this time.

“I have said before and I still do that my hope is that one day he will play for Barcelona.

“I would love to have him alongside me because as well as a good person, he is a great player.

“I would love him to be here this year or if not then next year. He would give us more.

“I haven’t spoken to him recently. I don’t know how Arsenal are set up economically but I do know that he is a great player and a real friend of mine and he is a Barcelona player – he has been in the youth system here and he knows what we are about. He could perform perfectly here.”

Citing the Arsenal man’s struggle to secure a regular first team place in the Spanish national set-up, many football analysts have suggested that Fabregas could potentially find himself regularly playing back-up to the like of Xavi Hernandez and Andres Iniesta if he were to return to his childhood club.

Dismissing such worries, Iniesta himself told Spanish radio station ONA FM, that if the Gunner were signed it could only make Pep Guardiola’s squad stronger.

“(The signing of Cesc) is a matter of Arsenal and Barcelona, ​​we cannot do anything,” he made clear this week.

“Xavi, Cesc and I are not incompatible. If he comes, the team level will be better.”

Despite the calls from their first team squad to make Fabregas the number one target for a second successive summer, Barcelona’s hierarchy announced this week that their total transfer budget would not exceed £45 million; a figure which looks unlikely to cover the cost of persuading Arsenal to sell and rules out funds for pursuing other targets.

Having warded off two bids for former Barcelona president Joan Laporta last summer, Arsene Wenger again reiterated his stubborn stance to keep hold of his captain in May, despite rumours of a potential exodus which could see several established stars quit the Emirates.

Adams admits aspiration to manage Arsenal

Former Arsenal skipper Tony Adams has revealed he would love to return to the Gunners one day but only as a manager, rather than a Number 2 or coach.

Adams enjoyed 22 successful years at the Gunners winning four league titles, three FA Cups, and the Cup Winners Cup, establishing himself in the Arsenal history books as one of the club’s greatest ever players and captains.

The Gunners legend is currently managing in Azerbajan at FC Gabala, following unsuccessful managerial spells in charge at Portsmouth and Wycombe Wanderers.

While rumours are rife with whether Arsene Wenger will strengthen his backroom staff this summer, Adams has ruled out the possibility of returning under his former manager and mentor.

“I would love to go back to Arsenal one day, but not as No 2 or a defensive coach.

“Arsene Wenger would not let me do enough. He does all the coaching, so I don’t think I could work under him. It’s a tougher job at Gabala than at Arsenal.” Adams told the Daily Express.

The former member of the famous Gunners backline also gave an insight into the the strenghts of former manager George Graham compared with that of the Frenchman.

“George’s coaching ability and defensive structural technical ability for me is far better,” said Adams.

“It’s his strength. Coaches have strengths and weaknesses.

“And he is a lovely man, he has the respect of most of the players he has worked with.”

Exclusive: Arsenal make contact with Lille for Hazard

Arsenal have made contact with Lille regarding the summer transfer of Belgian international Eden Hazard.

A source close to the player revealed to Arseblog News that the Gunners are in discussions with the club regarding a move this summer, however, the talks are at an early stage with more news expected next week.

Negotiations have stalled over the contract of playmaker Samir Nasri while the future of skipper Cesc Fabregas is still uncertain, and Wenger is actively looking to strengthen the Gunner’s squad ahead of the new season.

The source explained that both clubs were in talks over a move although details will remain private, with the Belgian international tipped to replace Nasri at Arsenal following the club’s refusal to break the club’s wage structure to keep the 24-year-old.

Hazard, 20, was a principal protagonist in Lille’s historic Ligue 1 and French Cup Double win last season and has regularly spoken of his preference to move to Arsenal over other rival suitors.

During an Arsenal press conference in January Wenger even responded to speculation when asked by a French reporter if he was aware that it was the Belgian’s “dream” to seal a move to the Emirates.

“It’s a very good question. We follow him. And personally I think he’s a real talent, and he’s good enough to play for Arsenal, yes.” Wenger explained.

Hazard became the youngest player to win the Ligue 1 Player of the Season award last term with Wenger keeping a regular watch over the talented forward. The Frenchman recently sent a scout to monitor his performance in the European Championship qualifier against Turkey last Friday.

Arsenal failed in late Friedel bid

The Daily Mail are reporting that Arsenal failed with a last ditch offer to sign Aston Villa goalkeeper Brad Friedel last week.

The reports indicate that Arsene Wenger was ready to offer the former American international a two-year-deal at the Emirates however the goalkeeper’s move to North London rivals Tottenham Hotspur was already close to completion.

Wenger has now missed out on two potential signings in the past week with Blackburn Rovers’ Phil Jones set to join Manchester United despite having talks with the Gunners boss.

The news that Wenger moved for the 40-year-old suggests that Wojciech Szczesny will face competition for the club’s number 1 jersey, with the Frenchman on the search for a senior stopper.

Currently Szczesny faces competition from out of form Manuel Almunia and fellow Polish international Lukasz Fabianski.

Arsenal refusing to break wage structure for Nasri

The future of Arsenal midfielder Samir Nasri remains heavily in doubt with the Gunners hierarchy refusing to break the club’s wage structure to keep the Frenchman at the club.

Speaking to Arseblog News a source close to the club revealed Nasri has requested wages in excess of £110, 000 with talks officially breaking down between the player and club at the end of April.

With the future of Cesc Fabregas also uncertain the Arsenal board must move quickly to make a decision on presenting a final offer to Nasri, with the source admitting that Wenger has made preparations for life without the 23-year-old while also revealing that Nasri is currently more likely to depart than sign a new deal at the Emirates stadium.

Nasri, a £15.8 million signing from Marseille in the summer of 2008 is about to enter the last 12 months of his current contract, with manager Arsene Wenger admitting at the beginning of the month that the club were at loggerheads with the playmaker over his wage demands.

Following rumoured interest from Manchester United stirred by fellow French international Patrice Evra, Wenger made the following retort on French radio last week:

“One thing’s for sure: we’re not selling him to Manchester United,” Wenger told the French radio station RTL.

“Are we still in discussions with Nasri? Yes, but we are still in disagreement over the financial contract on offer, which we haven’t settled. We are trying to extend his deal.”

Analysis of Arsenal’s finances suggests the Gunners boss has a £35 million budget at his disposal to spend this summer, without player sales, and that includes any wages and contract packages. The board are also eager to offer Robin Van Persie a new deal at the club, with Wenger remaining bullish over the club’s wage structure.

Arsenal had Jones bid accepted

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According to Arsenal blog We are the North Bank, and verified on Twitter by Express journalist Matt Law, Arsenal had a £16m+ bid accepted last night for Blackburn’s Phil Jones.

While many would question if a 19 year old, relatively inexperienced centre-half would have been the answer to Arsenal’s defensive issues, it seems Arsene Wenger was ready to break his transfer record for the England U21 international.

It seems a combination of location and United’s standing in the game sealed the deal for Alex Ferguson. Law said “[Arsenal] were prepared to offer bigger wages than United. Jones chose United because of north-west connection and footballing reasons. Wenger did all he could”.

At the very least it signals that the club are prepared to spend serious money this summer. Jones’ departure from Blackburn will certainly complicate a move for Christopher Samba but Wenger may well now test Bolton’s desire to keep hold of Gary Cahill.

It’s thought the Trotters have put a £17m price tag on his head but with just 12 months of his contract left to run the financial realities of the situation may force their hand should Wenger decide Cahill is a player he wants.

Gervinho gears up for Premier League move

Ivory Coast winger Gervinho has confirmed that he will leave Lille in the coming weeks and has set his heart on playing in England.

The 24-year-old, who has been heavily linked with Arsenal, Newcastle United and Manchester City, looks set to spurn the advances of continental suitors in a bid to fulfil his dream of playing in the Premier League.

Speaking to Skysports.com, Gervinho stated: “My mind is made up, I am leaving.

“I have made my mind up. I will soon meet the club and let them know, but they understand my feelings that I want to prove myself in a top league in Europe.

“My agents are moving things as I want, people know where my future lies, it is in England.”

Gervinho helped Lille to a Ligue 1 and French Cup Double last season, but with only one year left on his contract will likely be allowed to leave the Stade Lille-Metropole for a fee in the region of £10 million.

It remains to be seen which of his proposed English suitors makes the first move with the player’s agent keeping his cards close to his chest when talking to Arseblog News yesterday.

“It is difficult for me to discuss the situation because it is confidential, but it is true that many clubs in England have contacted us concerning the availability of Gervinho,” revealed Seb Boisseau.

“For the moment he wants to think about Arsenal, Manchester City, and other clubs. It is difficult for me to comment, as you have good information and sometimes wrong information, but it is not good for me to comment, or for the clubs, or for Lille.

“For the moment it is confidential, and we will wait until Gervinho makes an agreement with one club.

“I think a decision will be made regarding his future by the end of the week.”

 

Gibbs injury woes continue

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Kieran Gibbs will miss the U21 European Championships in Denmark this summer after picking up an ankle injury in a friendly game against Norway.

England coach Stuart Pearce said “It’s unfortunate for Kieran, but he went for a scan yesterday and is in a medical boot.”

The tournament was a chance for Gibbs to get some much needed playing time under his belt and go some way towards staking a claim for the left-back position at the club.

His 2010-11 campaign, in which he was expected to seriously challenge Gael Clichy, was hampered by a succession of injuries meaning he started just four league games and only featured in seven overall.

It is not yet known how serious the injury is, or if it will affect his pre-season, but the timing could not be worse. With serious doubts over the future of Clichy, Arsene Wenger will be surely be questioning the England international’s ability to fill the gap should his injury woes continue.

Advocaat: Arshavin needs more Arsenal playing time

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Russia boss Dick Advocaat believes that Andrey Arshavin’s form at international level has suffered due to a lack of regular first team opportunities at Arsenal.

Ignoring the fact that the diminutive midfielder made 36 starts and a further 16 appearances from the bench last term, a total unmatched by any other squad member at the Emirates, the Dutch tactician lamented to Russian publication Sport-Express:

“One of his problems is that he plays 20 minutes per game. Arsenal head coach Arsene Wenger uses him as a player who can be fielded in the second half and who can refresh the game.

“Andrey is showing willingness to give the team the best of what he has. I worked with him for over two years at Zenit and I know who he is. A brilliant player.”

Arshavin has been heavily criticised in his homeland for his poor form during his country’s failed attempt to qualify for last summer’s World Cup and for several laboured performances during the current qualification campaign for Euro 2012.

In March the 29-year-old, who is captain of his country, was targeted following an away display in Armenia by former Soviet international Sergei Andreev who suggested:

“Arshavin’s first half was just a catastrophe, I feel he doesn’t want to play football anymore.”

The criticism was backed up by another ex-international, Dmitri Kuznetsov, who complained, “They [Russia] have to play with only 10 men in the team. Arshavin’s performance on Saturday was a parody of football.”

Arsenal fans have also been largely underwhelmed by the Russian’s form over the course of the last 18 months despite the fact that his prowess in the final third has been regularly defended by Arsene Wenger who stressed that the former Zenit St Petersburg man demonstrated an efficiency which was backed up by his assists and goal record.

Aware of the pressures which continue to be heaped on his star man, Advocaat backed Arshavin to return to top form for both club and country while cautiously making clear that he would not receive special treatment if a challenger for his position did come to the fore.

“If you ask overseas, what players people know from Russia, you will find that everyone knows his name.

“But to emphasize one thing. I respect him as a player and person, but if we find someone better for his position – we will play this “someone”. We do not have a special relationship. Do not think that Arshavin will be play just because he is Arshavin.”