Getty Images

Mesut Ozil urges Sanchez to stay with him at Arsenal

1 Comment

The message is clear from one Arsenal star to another: stay.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

Mesut Ozil has been speaking about Alexis Sanchez as both of Arsenal’s star men have less than 12 months left on their current contracts and their future’s at the north London club continue to be the source of constant speculation.

With Arsene Wenger stating on Tuesday that he believes Sanchez will stay at Arsenal, Ozil’s comments seem to have proved that nobody knows what is going on with the future of the Chilean star who scored 24 goals and assisted 10 more last season in the Premier League.

Ozil also said his “preference is to stay” with the Gunners but will think more about his own future when Arsenal return to London from their preseason tour of Australia and the Far East

Whn talking to the media at the launch of their new third-kit, the German international was a lot more open about Sanchez’s future.

“I hope Alexis stays but I do not know what the status is to be perfectly honest. I value him a lot as a player and he is very well suited to the game Arsenal play,” Ozil said. “From a personal view I would really appreciate it if he stays. However, it’s the players decision after all and there’s not much more I can comment on that.

“It would hit the team quite hard if he left, because he’s a player who always delivers. It would be a setback to winning the title but in the end it’s the players decision.”

Ozil’s Arsenal and Germany teammate, Per Mertesacker, believes Sanchez will be playing for the Gunners. Yeah, definitely,” was the answer Arsenal’s skipper gave when asked if Sanchez would be alongside him for his final year as a player before he retires next summer to take charge of the Gunners’ academy.

In short, nobody at Arsenal knows what the heck is going on with Sanchez’s future.

There is a scenario where Sanchez and Ozil will spend the next six months negotiating behind-the-scenes and both may still play for Arsenal but instead wait to see how the 2017-18 season unfolds. If the Gunners look like they will be at least back in the top four around January time, then we could see them sign a new deal and all of these delays will be forgotten.

Yet the players, and their agents, know they longer they hold on the more likely it is for Arsenal to pay them the wages they’re asking for.

This is all a waiting game but Ozil wanting Sanchez to remain at the Emirates suggests he will be doing so beyond this season and he’s desperate for Sanchez to do the same.

Transfer Rumor Roundup: Arsenal close in on Leno; Man City near Jorginho signing, and more

Leave a comment

Arsenal looks like it will have a new man between the pipes for next season.

According to a report from German publication SportBild, Bayer Leverkusen goalkeeper Bernd Leno will be introduced as an Arsenal player on Tuesday, after a reported $23-29 million transfer fee. The 26-year-old was on Germany’s 35-man pre-World Cup squad, but was one of the last cuts as Joachim Low went with Manuel Neuer, Marc-Andre ter Stegen and Kevin Trapp in Russia.

Leno became the full-time starter for Leverkusen as a 20-year-old, and has held the position of the No. 1 for the last six seasons, earning plenty of Bundesliga and UEFA Champions League experience along the way.

It’s unclear what will happen to current Arsenal No. 1 Petr Cech. The 36-year-old Premier League legend experienced one of his worst seasons in net for Arsenal and he could begin the season as a backup, unless he moves to a new club. He reportedly has a contract through 2019.

Here’s some more transfer rumors from around the Premier League and Europe.

(more…)

VIDEO: Mertens scores wonderstrike for Belgium

Getty Images
Leave a comment

After a frustrating 45 minutes, it took only two minutes for Belgium to finally get on the board, even if it was a goal sprinkled with magic dust.

Off a partially cleared ball on the right side of the box, Belgium attacker Dries Mertens whalloped a shot that arced over Panama (and former LA Galaxy) goalkeeper Jaime Penedo, giving Belgium a 1-0 lead.

[ LIVE: World Cup scores ]

Croatia’s Kalinic sent home from World Cup

Getty Images
Leave a comment

It’s only been five days, and we have our first World Cup dismissal.

According to a bombshell report out of Croatia, Croatia National Team head coach Zlatko Dalic has sent home striker Nikola Kalinic from the team’s camp, after the AC Milan player reportedly refused to be a substitute during Croatia’s 2-0 win over Nigeria.

[ LIVE: World Cup scores ]

[Update: The Croatia FA confirmed the decision, releasing this statement from Dalic. “During the Nigeria encounter, Kalinić was warming up and was supposed to come on in the second half. However, he then stated that he wasn’t ready to come on due to a back issue. The same thing happened during the Brazil friendly in England, as well as before the practice session on Sunday. I have calmly accepted that, and since I need my players fit and ready to play, I have made this decision.”]

The report states that Kalinic refused to come on due to an injury, but Dalic had said recently that his team had no injuries that would keep players out, potentially meaning that Kalinic used the injury claim as an excuse.

Croatia’s FA is expected to confirm the news on Monday.

After a rough season at AC Milan, with just six league goals in 31 Serie A appearances, Kalinic, at 30, is likely finished with the Vatreni. He scored three goals in World Cup qualifying but hasn’t started for Croatia since a 2-0 win over Peru in March. Kalinic did score against Spain in Croatia’s shock 2-1 win exactly two years prior to Saturday’s match.

He was deemed second choice to Mario Mandzukic as the center forward up top, but was reportedly asked to spell Mandzukic during Croatia’s match against Nigeria, and Kalinic reportedly refused.

If true, Croatia will continue with 22 players for the remainder of the tournament.

VAR, Granqvist penalty lead Sweden over South Korea

Getty Images
Leave a comment

On Day 5 of the World Cup, VAR took center stage once again.

Referee Joel Aguilar of El Salvador made the trek over to the video monitor in the 63rd minute after a no-call on a South Korea challenge in its own box, eventually reversing his decision and giving Sweden a penalty kick. Sweden captain Andreas Granqvist stepped up and sent his side in front before holding on for a 1-0 victory over South Korea on Monday morning in Nizhny Novgorod.

With the win, Sweden is joint top of Group F with Mexico on three points.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ] 

The key moment in the match took place in the 62nd minute, as Sweden’s Viktor Claesson got his foot on a loose ball first before South Korea’s Kim Min-woo went through Claesson to clear the ball away.

Aguilar initially waved the penalty claim away, but after about 20 seconds and a word from his assistant referees in his ear, Aguilar made the sign for VAR and ran over to take a second look. Around 20-30 seconds later, Aguilar reversed his decision, awarding the Swedes a penalty.

Granqvist, who plays his club football for FC Krasnodar in Russia, stepped up to the spot and with veteran poise, sent Cho Hyun-woo the wrong way for the 1-0 lead.

Click here for live and on demand coverage of the World Cup online and via the NBC Sports App.

Sweden had chances in the first half to get on the board. Marcus Berg was alone on goal in the 20th minute but Hyun-woo stuck out a leg and deflected it away. Another chance from Berg led to another save from Hyun-woo as he kept South Korea in the match.

Following Sweden’s goal, Sweden sat deep and allowed Heung-Min Son to find space on the wings, where South Korea set up numerous half-chances. But the final pass was just missing, and Sweden was able to clear the ball out of the box on numerous occasions, holding on to victory.

It’s a big win for Sweden, which will face an angry and pumped up Germany side coming off a loss in its first match. Meanwhile, South Korea looks to rebound against Mexico, with its spirits higher than the clouds.