Thomas Tuchel to Arsenal? Dortmund coach in the dark

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Multiple reports claim that Arsenal are lining up potential successors for Arsene Wenger if the Frenchman decides to leave the Emirates Stadium this summer.

[ MORE: Mourinho on transfer plans ]

Wenger, 67, revealed last weekend that he has been offered a two-year extension to stay on.

However, with criticism mounting on his side as they slipped 12 point behind leaders Chelsea to all but end their hopes of winning the Premier League for yet another season, maybe Wenger will simply walk away.

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If so, Atletico Madrid’s Diego Simeone and Juventus’ Massimiliano Allegri have both been linked with being offered the Arsenal job, but now we have a new name.

The Daily Mirror reports that current Borussia Dortmund boss Thomas Tuchel is the front-runner lined up Arsenal to take over, plus Bayer Leverkusen’s Roger Schmidt and Monaco’s Leonardo Jardim are also in the running.

However when asked about the speculation on Friday, Tuchel played it cool.

“Arsenal rumors? I can’t say anything about that because I don’t know anything about it,” Tuchel said. “I’m on a contract with Dortmund and I’m happy here.”

Tuchel has just over 12 months left on his current contract and will not meet with Dortmund’s directors until the end of the current season to discuss a possible extension.

Dortmund currently sit in fourth place in the Bundesliga, 12 points behind leaders Bayern Munich (cue jokes about Tuchel being “perfect” for Arsenal) and although he’s cultivated a young, exciting team to watch with teenagers Christian Pulisic, Ousmane Dembele and Emre Mor coming through, Tuchel has seen his side fall behind Bayern, RB Leipzig and Eintracht Frankfurt in the Bundesliga table.

According to reports, Dortmund are looking at Hoffenheim’s 29-year-old manager Julian Nagelsmann to possibly replace Tuchel in the summer.

For Arsenal, it seems highly likely that Wenger will remain in charge but it would also be rather odd for them not to be drawing up a shortlist of possible contenders should the Gunners get knocked out of the FA Cup and UEFA Champions League in embarrassing fashion and suffer a collapse in the Premier League over the final few months of the season.

That would lead to Wenger perhaps walking away altogether.

Look, Arsenal is an incredibly attractive proposition for any coach. You get to live in London. Work in the Premier League. Coach star names like Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez. Plus, it is a well run club which has money to spend on top quality players and will likely have UCL action to offer.

Still, it seems like apart from Simeone and Allegri, the names on the shortlist to replace Wenger are a little underwhelming.

Perhaps that’s exactly why he’s been offered a two-year extension to stay on…

Former Czech Republic defender Rajtoral kills himself

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PRAGUE (AP) Former Czech Republic defender Frantisek Rajtoral, who won the domestic league title four times before joining Turkish club Gaziantepspor, died on Sunday. He was 31.

[ MORE: Bayern scouted Kyle Walker, Alex Sanchez this weekend ]

The Czech football federation said in a statement that Rajtoral had “committed suicide in Turkey.”

His agent Pavel Zika confirmed the player’s death, describing it as a “huge tragedy.”

Gaziantepspor announced Rajtoral’s death in a brief statement on its website.

Rajtoral played 14 international matches for the Czech Republic.

In the top Czech league, he won four titles with Viktoria Plzen and played in the group stage of the Champions League twice for the club. He moved to Hannover in the Bundesliga in 2014 for half of the season, on loan.

He left Viktoria Plzen last year to move to Turkey.

Bellerin wants to represent Spain U21s despite Wenger’s wishes

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Arsene Wenger has made it clear about Hector Bellerin representing Spain this summer but the Arsenal defender is prepared to go against his manager’s wishes if he is selected.

[ MORE: Bayern scouted Kyle Walker, Alexis Sanchez over the weekend ]

The 22-year-old has said he hopes to play for Spain’s Under-21 side this summer during the 2017 European U-21 Championship but Wenger has been weary of Bellerin’s injury status and wants his fullback to maintain a clean bill of health throughout the offseason.

“I really want to play,” Bellerin told IBTimes. “Representing Spain is very important. If [Albert] Celades gives me the chance I’ll be there.

“Those are opinions of the managers. I have to keep working. The truth is that I had a difficult injury but I think that I am at 100% now and I’ll try to prove it when I get the chance.”

Bellerin signed a six-and-a-half year deal with the Gunners in November, where he has resided since coming up in the club’s academy. He has made 102 appearances for Wenger’s team in that span over all competitions.

Roma boosts bid for 2nd in Serie A by beating Pescara 4-1

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PESCARA, Italy (AP) Roma boosted its bid for second place in Serie A and automatic entry into the Champions League with a 4-1 win at Pescara, which was mathematically relegated on Monday.

[ MORE: Newcastle joins Brighton in promotion to Premier League ]

Roma moved four points clear of third-placed Napoli, which drew against Sassuolo 2-2 on Sunday. Third place in Serie A receives a Champions League playoff.

Pescara remained 15 points behind Empoli. There are only five matches left and Empoli has the better head-to-head record, which is the deciding factor if two teams finish level on points.

There were 48 goals in total in the 33rd round, matching the record set in October 1992.

Roma took control shortly before halftime, with Kevin Strootman breaking the deadlock after Stephan El Shaarawy unselfishly rolled the ball across the area.

Radja Nainggolan, who earlier hit the bar, doubled Roma’s lead two minutes later.

Mohamed Salah extended Roma’s advantage three minutes after the break and the winger doubled his tally on the hour following a swift counterattack.

Ahmad Benali got a consolation for Pescara and a Cristiano Biraghi free kick also hit the post for the home side.

Frank Yallop resigns as Phoenix Rising coach shortly after Drogba arrival

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The timing is a bit sudden and certainly leaves many questions up in the air, but Phoenix Rising will have to look for a new manager.

[ MORE: Chicharito talks heating up with LA FC ]

On Monday, head coach Frank Yallop resigned from his position with the United Soccer League (USL) club less than one day after former Chelsea legend Didier Drogba joined the organization as a player-owner.

With Phoenix seen as one of several lower-level clubs with ambitions of making the leap to MLS over the coming seasons, Yallop’s departure is surely a shock to many.

According to ESPN FC, Rising lead owner Berke Bakay was quite surprised by Yallop’s decision to step down, as was Drogba.

“Didier was as surprised and disappointed as we were that Frank is unable to continue coaching our Club,” Bakay told ESPN FC. “But, we all respect his decision to put his family first.

“Didier’s focus will remain on improving our team as a player and assisting our MLS expansion team ownership group as a co-owner. Frank will be helping with our international search for a new head coach.”

Rick Schantz, the current Rising assistant coach, will head the team’s managerial duties for the interim while the club completes a full search for a new manager.