Mikel Arteta out at least two weeks with sprained ankle, will miss Besiktas clash

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As soon as the tackle from Demba Ba came in things looked bleak. Writhing in pain, Mikel Arteta looked as if he might headline the next chapter in Arsenal’s injury horror novel.

Ligament damage was the natural fear but in a bittersweet gift the Arsenal medical team has announced that Arteta has merely suffered a badly sprained ankle. ‘Merely’ is the silver lining, of course, because in the short term Arteta’s knock is a major blow for the Gunners.

The Spanish midfielder won’t take part in Saturday’s clash with Everton, joining Theo Walcott, Serge Gnabry, Kieran Gibbs and (possibly) Yaya Sanogo on the trainer’s table. Worse yet, Arteta has been ruled out for the second leg of the Champions League play-off against Besiktas next Wednesday where, alongside the suspended Aaron Ramsey, he will endure 90 minutes of anxiety from the stands.

Arteta’s status means that Jack Wilshere and Mathieu Flamini will be the holding midfield partnership against the Turks, with the Italian midfielder replacing Arteta on Tuesday following his injury. Further buttressing the Arsenal lineup will be Mesut Ozil, Per Mertesacker and Lukas Podolski, all of whom are slated to return to the side following their World Cup break. Neither of the Germans will help the defensive side of the midfield, however, an area that many believed Wenger would strengthen over the summer with links to Sami Khedira or William Carvalho persisting throughout.

Arsenal nevertheless remain upbeat about their Champions League future with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain championing the positivity:

“We almost expect ourselves to qualify. It’s something we worked extremely hard for at the end of last season, to get ourselves into this position, and we don’t want to give it away at this stage. It is massive for us as a club, and as players and the fans. I’m sure you’ll see next week how much everyone wants to be a part of this competition.

“We definitely have to have confidence in ourselves to come through this test. Besiktas are a quality side and it’s not going to be easy at all. They’ll fancy their chances as well and a goalless draw does make our task that little bit harder back at the Emirates Stadium. But I’m confident, if we approach it in the right way and match them physically and competitively, that the technical side of our game will come through.”

The Gunners take on Everton at Goodison Park this Saturday at 12:30pm ET on NBC.

WATCH: Spain’s Saul smashes a shot past Italy’s Donnarumma

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Since returning from a loan at Rayo Vallecano, Saul Niguez has been a somewhat under the radar star at Atletico Madrid.

Coming off his best season with Atleti, the 22-year-old Saul is making an even bigger name for himself at the U-21 EURO this summer.

Spain’s Saul scored a hat trick past Gianluigi Donnarumma and Italy on Tuesday, and the second goal was laced with venom.

Getting onto the ball from 30-plus yards out, Saul smashed his shot with enough power that the ball barely had occasion to rotate.

Saul is under contract at the Vicente Calderon through 2022, and has three caps for Spain’s senior team, too. He was rated Atleti’s third-best performer by WhoScored this season.

Men in Blazers podcast: Transfer window, USMNT at Gold Cup, RBNY-NYCFC

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Men In Blazers are back with their latest podcast, and the boys are hitting club soccer here and abroad as well as Bruce Arena’s men in the red, white, and blue.

Rog and Davo break down transfer window activity, rumored and real; get a heat check on the USMNT heading into the Gold Cup; and recap the (Ray) Hudson River Derby.

All of the MiB content — pods, videos and stories can be seen here, but to really stay in touch, follow, subscribe, click here:

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Agent Jorge Mendes appears before judge in Falcao tax probe

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MADRID (AP) Football agent Jorge Mendes has told a Spanish judge that he had no involvement in the financial planning of client Radamel Falcao, who has been accused by a state prosecutor of tax fraud.

Mendes, who is not accused of any wrongdoing, appeared before a judge in a Madrid court for 45 minutes on Tuesday as part of the probe into whether there are grounds for the case against Falcao to go to trial.

[ MORE: Lampard linked with manager opening ]

Mendes’ agency, Gestifute, released a statement saying that “neither he nor his employees have ever intervened in the creation of corporate structures for his clients and much less provided any tax advice to them.”

Last month, a state prosecutor accused Falcao of defrauding Spain’s Tax Office of around $6 million from 2012-13. The alleged unpaid taxes were from money the Colombian player made from endorsement deals through image rights, not from the salary he was then being paid from club Atletico Madrid. Falcao now plays for Monaco.

Arfield, Adekugbe on Canada’s Gold Cup roster

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Burnley midfielder Scott Arfield and on-loan Brighton defender Samuel Adekugbe are among the players who will represent Canada in this summer’s Gold Cup.

Arfield, 28, was born in Scotland and earned the first of seven Canada caps in 2016, and Adekugbe returns to Vancouver from a year-long loan to Brighton and Hove Albion on June 30.

The pair join nine MLS players, two NASL player, and a USL player, with the rest of the group based outside North America.

[ MORE: Lampard linked with manager opening ]

Notably, Orlando City players Will Johnson and Cyle Larin were not called up by coach Octavio Zambrano.

Goalkeepers: Maxime Crepeau (Montreal), Milan Borjan (MKS Korona Kielce), Jayson Leutwiler (Shrewsbury Town)

Defenders: Samuel Adekugbe (Brighton and Hove Albion), Fraser Aird, Manjrekar James (Vasas Budapest), Dejan Jakovic (New York Cosmos), Adam Straith (FC Edmonton), Steven Vitoria (Lechia Gdansk), Marcel de Jong (Vancouver Whitecaps)

Midfielders: Scott Arfield (Burnley), Patrice Bernier (Montreal), Alphonso Davies (Vancouver), Raheem Edwards (Toronto FC), Junior Hoilett (Cardiff City), Mark-Anthony Kaye (Louisville City FC), Anthony Jackson-Hamel (Montreal), Jonathan Osorio (Toronto), Michael Petrasso (QPR), Samuel Piette (CD Izarra), Russell Teibert (Vancouver)

Forwards: Lucas Cavallini (CA Penarol), Tosaint Ricketts (Toronto)