Getty Images

Hope for Manchester clubs chasing Sanchez?

Leave a comment

Arsene Wenger wasn’t as defiant as he has been when discussing Alexis Sanchez’s future at Arsenal on Friday.

Reports have been rife in recent days that Sanchez, 29, will be sold in January with Manchester City the long-standing favorites to sign the Chilean forward (their $75 million deal was called off on deadline day back in September 2017) before he can leave Arsenal for nothing on a free transfer in July.

However, multiple reports surfaced on Thursday suggesting that Manchester United have entered the race for Sanchez and would be willing to pay a higher transfer fee than City and a deal could include Henrikh Mkhitaryan heading to Arsenal in exchange.

Speaking to reporters on Friday ahead of Arsenal’s trip to Bournemouth on Sunday (Watch live, 8:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com), Wenger was keeping his cards close to his chest when asked about United’s bid and Mkhitaryan.

“Nothing is really concrete at the moment. You conclude [that Manchester United are also interested] – but I don’t want to give you the wrong information. Nothing is decided one way or the other,” Wenger said. “Normally he should stay here until the end of the season but we shall see.”

Hmmm.

A change in Wenger’s mood was definitely noticeable as he had previously stated that Sanchez, and Mesut Ozil, would both stay at Arsenal until the end of the season.

Now, it seems like the situation has altered. Sanchez’s output (7 goals in 20 PL games so far this season) hasn’t lived up to his last three campaigns at Arsenal and rumblings suggest the rest of the squad have become unsettled with his attitude.

Wenger defended Sanchez’s recent form, even though he was left on the bench for the League Cup first leg draw at Chelsea on Wednesday.

“I don’t question Sanchez’s passion. I have had many conversations with him and we talked about how people always observe you with a microscope when you’re on a short term contract but I’ve never questioned his professional attitude on the pitch,” Wenger said. “[His form] is not necessarily linked with the length of your contract – [losing form] can happen even if you’ve got 10 years to go.”

All the signs are pointing towards Arsenal offloading Sanchez in the next few weeks, with Bordeaux’s Brazilian forward Malcom reported to be interesting the Gunners, even though Wenger admitted he was a good player “but at the moment nothing is happening” with that particular deal.

It seems there is now more hope than ever for the two Manchester clubs when it comes to signing Sanchez.

As for Arsenal this weekend, Wenger has been handed a fitness boost with Aaron Ramsey returning to the squad, Jack Wilshere‘s ankle injury isn’t as bad as first feared and he could play at Bournemouth on Sunday, while Mesut Ozil is rated at 50/50.

He also confirmed that Sead Kolasinac and Nacho Monreal will be back in contention next week with Olivier Giroud back to full fitness the week after.

Bayern signs Germany midfielder Goretzka from rival Schalke

Getty Images
Leave a comment

MUNICH (AP) Bayern Munich signed Germany midfielder Leon Goretzka on Friday on a free transfer from Bundesliga rival Schalke effective from next season.

Bayern said the 22-year-old Goretzka signed a four-year deal from July 1 through June 2022.

Schalke, which Goretzka joined in 2013 from hometown club Bochum, said the player informed the club this week of his wish to join Bayern when his contract expired.

[ MORE: Bundesliga scores ]

“We think we did everything in the last months to convince Leon to stay with us,” Schalke sporting director Christian Heidel said. “In the end, it wasn’t enough.”

Schalke had long been engaged in trying to get Goretzka to extend his contract, but was aware of reported interest from Bayern, Real Madrid, Barcelona, Juventus and Liverpool.

“We’re very happy that Leon Goretzka, a German international with big potential, has decided in favor of Bayern despite big-name international competitors. This way it’s ensured that Leon Goretzka remains in the Bundesliga,” Bayern chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge said.

Goretzka scored 19 goals and set up 13 more in 130 appearances for Schalke.

The club had previously expressed its displeasure with Bayern making public statements about its player after Goretzka was praised by sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic and coach Jupp Heynckes.

Heidel said “we don’t need to hear every day from the Munich people how good our player is.”

Goretzka has six goals in 12 games for Germany.

Pele hospitalized overnight in Brazil

Getty Images
1 Comment

The most famous soccer player in the world had a scare last night as he was hospitalized in Brazil for “severe exhaustion.”

Pele, 77, was set to travel to London this weekend to be honored by the Football Writers Association, though it looks like that trip has now been postponed.

In the early hours of Thursday morning, Pele collapsed and was taken to a hospital in Brazil where he has undergone a series of tests which appear to point to severe exhaustion,” a FWA statement said. “He remains on fluids while doctors monitor his recovery.

“Thankfully, there is no suggestion of anything more serious than exhaustion.”

Here’s to hoping Pele makes a full recovery.

[MORE: USMNT centerback heads to Championship club]

USMNT centerback Carter-Vickers heads to Ipswich Town on loan

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Cameron Carter-Vickers has a new club to call home for the next five months or so after a rough first half of the season.

Tottenham announced Friday morning that it had loaned the U.S. Men’s National Team centerback to Championship club Ipswich Town for the rest of the season. Carter-Vickers spent the first five months of the season at fellow Championship side Sheffield United, starting 17 times though he struggled recently as Sheffield won just one game he played in during the month of December, losing three and drawing one.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

Carter-Vickers was then recalled earlier this week and now has a new home with a mid-table Championship club, with a new chance to impress. Hopefully Carter-Vickers can recover his form and continue to grow, potentially latching on to another Premier League side next year or breaking into the Tottenham first team.

There’s another interesting American tie-in to this. Carter-Vickers appears to be a short-term replacement for Ipswich Town’s Tommy Smith, who the club states is headed to join the Colorado Rapids ahead of the 2018 MLS season.

Sanchez, Mkhitaryan transfer still up in the air

Getty Images
Leave a comment

The player-swap/trade/transfer between Arsenal and Manchester United still appears to be heading towards completion, but it was further delayed Friday.

Multiple reports in England state that while Alexis Sanchez seems set to move to Manchester United, Henrik Mkhitaryan has yet to agree to move the other way, as talks between the player’s agent and Arsenal continue. Mkhitaryan was seen training at Manchester United’s practice facility on Friday, and because the latest delay, both players would be unable to debut for their new teams this weekend after missing the Premier League registration deadline.

[MORE: JPW’s Premier League picks]

Arsenal hosts Crystal Palace Manchester United travels to Burnley, both on Saturday at 10 a.m. (Watch Arsenal live on CNBC, Manchester United live on NBCSN, and both live on NBCSports.com)

The London Evening Standard reports that Mkhitaryan would command a $242,000-per-week salary but that as of Friday morning he had yet to undergo a medical for the transfer. Arsenal reportedly still wants a transfer fee included for Sanchez, while Manchester United would prefer to just swap the two players.

It’s also looking as if that won’t be Arsenal’s only business in the transfer market. While it seemed like a far-fetched rumor at first, the links between Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Arsenal have only grown stronger in the past few days, and the Gabon international appears to be in the Gunners sights. It appears that Bordeaux’s young striker Malcolm is now off the table.