Wenger confirms Mikel Arteta is the new Arsenal captain

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With Thomas Vermaelen’s departure to Barcelona after rotting on the Gunners’ bench for a year, manager Arsene Wenger has chosen his replacement.

32-year-old midfielder Mikel Arteta has been given the armband for the upcoming season. The former Everton midfielder has made over 30 appearances in each season since joining Arsenal in the summer of 2011.

Arteta was the vice-captain under Vermaelen, and defender Per Mertesacker has been given the vice-captaincy.

“One: Arteta and two: Mertesacker,” Wenger said following the Community Shield win over Manchester City. “Arteta will be captain and Mertesacker vice-captain.” There wasn’t much else on the subject.

[ MORE: Arsenal grabs Community Shield with 3-0 win over Manchester City ]

Wenger passed on Mertesacker or Laurent Koscielny, either side at the back of Arsenal’s strong defense partnership.

He skipped over Mesut Ozil, the team’s creative force up front who adapted to life at the Emirates quickly last season.

And he went by goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny, Arsenal’s first-choice shotstopper since January of 2011 and leading them to top-four finishes in every year.

Arteta follows in Vermaelen’s footsteps, who was the vice-captain and promoted when Robin van Persie left for Manchester United.

The stone-faced midfielder has just one year left on his contract, but there are reports that an extension is being worked on. He can likely only expect a one-year deal, with Arsenal’s policy with players over 30 years old, which Arteta himself criticized last May.

Klopp to the Kop: Multiple reports say deal agreed at Liverpool

TURIN, ITALY - FEBRUARY 24:  Borussia Dortmund coach Jurgen Klopp shouts to his players during the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 match between Juventus and Borussia Dortmund at Juventus Arena on February 24, 2015 in Turin, Italy.  (Photo by Marco Luzzani/Getty Images)
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Jurgen Klopp is on his way to Liverpool to sign a contract naming him the next coach of the Reds.

The celebrated manager, 48, has been on “hiatus” from football since leaving Borussia Dortmund last season.

[ MORE: Messi to stand trial in Spain ]

Reports starting emerging earlier today that an agreement was imminent, and now the BBC is among those reporting that Klopp will be rolled out Friday morning.

From the BBC:

No contract has yet been signed but that is viewed as a formality when Klopp arrives in Liverpool later on Thursday. He will be officially unveiled by Liverpool on Friday morning at 10:00 BST.

There’s not much to say besides this: Klopp’s addition to the Premier League will give more color and brilliance to the country’s footballing scene. Only a certain class of manager can be instantly expected to find a better system for an inherited group of players.

This could and should be a game changer on Merseyside.

Appeal rejected! Lionel Messi will face court trial in Spain

VIGO, SPAIN - SEPTEMBER 23:  Lionel Messi looks dejected after the La Liga match between Celta Vigo and FC Barcelona at Estadio Balaidos on September 23, 2015 in Vigo, Spain.  (Photo by Alex Caparros/Getty Images)
Alex Caparros/Getty Images
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It was a mere 48 hours ago that Lionel Messi looked close to in the clear when it came to tax evasion charges.

Now the question is whether a Spanish court will lock away the greatest active footballer, as a judge rejected the prosecutors’ (!!!) request to drop the charges.

[ WATCH: Hilarious spoof pegs Messi, Ronaldo as “Friends” ]

Messi and his father have already made a $5.5 million corrective payment, but there’s principle in play here. And the judge wants to know how Messi can claim he had no idea what was being done with his money.

From the BBC:

Lawyers acting on behalf of the tax authorities demanded 22-month jail sentences for both defendants.

“There are rational signs that the criminality was committed by both accused parties,” wrote the judge in a court filing, according to the AFP news agency.

Can you imagine one of the world’s richer men ending up in a Spanish prison? It’s very difficult to consider. In some ways it’s more plausible that he would buy his own island and start the “Messi Isle Premiership”.

Still, we won’t laugh off the idea, especially with FIFA apparently going down. Messi in prison. That’s something. Sepp in Switzerland. Lionel in Spain.