Arsene Wenger confident in Arsenal’s squad going into upcoming season despite lack of transfer activity

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Despite a lack of movement and a few failed attempts at bringing in another forward, Arsene Wenger remains confident that his squad can compete to win the Premier League this season.

After a 2-2 draw with Napoli, Wenger told reporters at the press conference he thinks Arsenal, which finished fourth last season, can win the league with its current roster.

“I am confident,” said Wenger. “Why should I sit here and say to you that we can absolutely not win the title with the players we have?”

Wenger had to be pleased with his side after the Gunners fought back and earned a draw with two late goals from forward Olivier Giroud and defender Laurent Koscielny in the final 20 minutes of the game. The game had to feel good for Arsenal because the draw came against the team that swooped in and signed Gonzalo Higuain from Real Madrid after Arsenal had reportedly agreed to terms with the player but got bogged down in negotiations with Madrid.

Wenger also confirmed that Arsenal had put in a bid for Liverpool forward Luis Suarez but nothing has advanced any further.

“I never said we have made a bid to Liverpool, now I can tell you we have made one, so at least that is some information,” said Wenger. “All the rest, I would like to keep to us. If we progress in that situation, we will inform you. At the moment, that is where we are.”

Arsenal is in need of another game-changing player if it hopes to compete with Manchester City, Chelsea and Manchester United for the league championship. And with Tottenham and Liverpool strengthening their squads this offseason, fourth place isn’t even guaranteed for the Gunners this season. Getting Suarez would give Wenger’s squad the kind of player he has been searching for to change not only the squad’s mentality and add a win at all costs attitude, but also its ability to score goals when a game doesn’t seem to be going the team’s way.

Besides Suarez, Arsenal haven’t been linked with too many players coming into the side, but Wenger confirmed on Saturday that Gervinho could be leaving the Emirates soon with negotiations close to being completed. Marouane Chamakh could also be on his way out in the next 48 hours on a permanent transfer. Sadly for Arsenal fans, the manager also said no one was interested in Nicklas Bendtner at this time.

“Gervinho we are at the moment close to an agreement with a club where he should go,” said Wenger. “Bendtner we are nowhere. At the moment he is completely here. Chamakh might go somewhere, it will be decided in the next 48 hours. [They are] permanent moves.”

With Andrey Arshavin, possibly Gervinho and Chamakh moving, Arsenal will have plenty of spots to bring in other attacking options. While the three players were brought in with high expectations, none really lived up the heights that were set for them. Wenger needs to do better in his next recruitment of attacking players. If Suarez is captured it would be a good start and be a coup for Arsenal — taking a rivals top-player as well as adding a 20-plus goalscorer to the side.

If Suarez doesn’t work out, Wenger needs a plan B because the teams around Arsenal save Manchester United have been beefing up and improving their squads. If Arsenal miss out on the Champions League next year, Wenger’s inability to bring in a proven goalscorer will certainly be a reason why.

Luis Enrique leaves with feeling of mission accomplished

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MADRID (AP) Luis Enrique leaves Barcelona with no regrets and the feeling of mission accomplished.

[ MORE: Arsenal edges Chelsea to earn FA Cup crown ]

The coach capped his three-year stint with the Catalan club by winning the Copa del Rey title with a 3-1 win over Alaves on Saturday.

Now it’s time to enjoy some much-needed time off after three “intense” seasons, and let the club move on under fresh leadership.

“There is no sadness at all, just happiness,” Luis Enrique said. “I’m the one who decided to stop, and I think that it was a wonderful decision for me, for the players and for the team as well. The intensity of this profession demands maximum dedication every single day and there is a natural wear out.”

He said players always need new challenges and will benefit from a change in leadership, and the club will certainly keep winning despite his departure.

After missing out on the league this season, the Copa del Rey was Barcelona’s second title of the campaign to go along with the Spanish Super Cup, but Luis Enrique has won nearly everything since replacing Gerard Martino in 2014. The former midfielder led Barcelona to the treble of the Spanish league, Copa del Rey and Champions League in 2015. He also managed the league-Copa double in 2016, and also won the European Super Cup and the Club World Cup in 2015.

He said he was “proud” to have helped Barcelona fans celebrate so many accomplishments during his time at the helm.

“If someone had told me when I arrived that I would have the opportunity to help my team win nine titles out of 13 that we played, I’d say that these would be good numbers,” he said. “It would have been nice to have won La Liga and contended for the Champions League title this season, but it just wasn’t meant to be. I believe that the fans recognized the effort and the sacrifice of all the players throughout the season. I have enjoyed the opportunity to make them happy.”

Luis Enrique said he was also lucky to have had the chance to coach a player like Lionel Messi.

“He is extraordinary, extraterrestrial,” Luis Enrique said about the Argentina forward, who scored the team’s first goal on Saturday. “I’ve had the opportunity to enjoy Messi at his best, performing at the highest level. He is the very best, without a doubt.”

Neymar and Paco Alcacer also scored at the Vicente Calderon Stadium to help Barcelona win its third straight Copa del Rey title, and 29th all-time.

Luis Enrique celebrated with his seven-year-old daughter by his side, waving his winner’s trophy and singing the club’s anthem in front of the Barcelona fans who traveled to Madrid.

Barcelona is expected to announce this week that its new coach will be Ernesto Valverde, who left Athletic Bilbao a few days ago.

Luis Enrique’s future remains up in the air.

“I don’t know what I’ll be doing, really. I’m open to every possibility, including changing sports,” the 47-year-old Luis Enrique said, with a smile on his face. “I do know that I’m very competitive and it’s been like this since I was born. Right now I’m looking forward to the opportunity of enjoying my friends and my family.”

Tales Azzoni on Twitter: http://twitter.com/tazzoni

Report: Reus could miss six months after sustaining knee damage

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Marco Reus missed much of the 2016/17 season with injuries, and the Borussia Dortmund attacker had that unfortunate spell continue on Saturday.

[ MORE: USMNT tops Group F and more from the U-20 World Cup ]

The 27-year-old exited the club’s DFB Pokal final win against Eintracht Frankfurt at halftime after suffering a knee injury.

According to German outlet Bild, Reus will miss at least six months as he rehabs and prepares to make a comeback.

Despite the bad news for Dortmund, Thomas Tuchel’s men captured the title behind goals from Ousmane Dembélé and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

Day 9: USMNT tops Group F and more from the U20 World Cup

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Five teams booked their place in the knockout phase at the FIFA Under-20 World Cup on Sunday, including Tab Ramos and the U.S. after the Americans picked up a valuable point to finish atop Group F.

[ MORE: Allardyce steps down at Palace ]

USMNT U-20s 1-1 Saudi Arabia

An unbeaten record in group play has Ramos and Co. moving on to the Round of 16, where the U.S. will meet New Zealand. Brooks Lennon inked his name on the scoresheet for the first time at this month’s World Cup just prior to halftime, before Abdulelah Alamri equalized with almost a quarter hour left to play.

Senegal 0-0 Ecuador

A draw was all Senegal needed to ensure it would continue its run at the World Cup, while Ecuador fell short of a final 16 bid after only managing two draws during Group F play.

New Zealand 0-2 France

With nine goals for and none conceded during Group E play, France remains one of the heavy hitters at the conclusion of the group phase. Les Bleus received a strong contribution from Bastia winger Allan Saint-Maximin, who netted twice in the first half.

Honduras 2-0 Vietnam

Honduras scored twice in the final 14 minutes-plus added time but neither nation reaches the Round of 16 with Sunday’s result.

Daly collapses during match, treated for heat illness

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HOUSTON (AP) Houston Dash forward Rachel Daly collapsed during the final minute of a National Women’s Soccer League match against the Seattle Reign as temperatures climbed into the 90s.

The 25-year-old Daly was stretchered off the field and taken to the hospital, where the team said she was being treated for heat illness.

The temperature at BBVA Compass Stadium was 92 degrees at the 3 p.m. kickoff. The Reign won 2-0.

[ MORE: Perisic talking with Man Utd? ]

The NWSL issued a statement that said the league had worked with the Dash before the season to schedule any afternoon games early in the year to help avoid heat issues. The teams took a hydration break late in the match.

“We will immediately review these measures to prevent this situation from occurring in the future,” the statement said.

Reign coach Laura Harvey posted to Twitter: “Proud of the team today. Some of the hottest conditions I’ve seen. Road games are tough but that was crazy.”