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The latest on Alexis Sanchez as he returns to Arsenal

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Alexis Sanchez has returned to Arsenal’s training ground at London Colney.

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The Chilean striker was given extra time off after reaching the final of the 2017 Confederations Cup in Russia in June, but just ahead of his return he posted on social media that he was suffering from the flu.

Sanchez, 28, was supposed to return to training on Sunday but was given an extra two days off to recover from illness and it has been reported he flew on a private jet from Chile to Paris and then on to London.

He still hasn’t signed a new deal at Arsenal — in case you’ve been living under a rock he has 12 months left on his current deal — and the Chile star stopping off in Paris, home of Paris Saint-Germain who continue to chase his signature, has raised a few eyebrows. However, it is believed that Sanchez’s stop-off was a routine one and just for his plane to be refueled.

It is also believed Sanchez will take part in an open training session at the Emirates Stadium on Thursday, even if he can’t take part in the entire session. Sanchez has an outside chance of being available for the FA Community Shield against Chelsea this weekend at Wembley and seems more likely to be ready for the PL season opener against Leicester City on Aug. 11.

Arsene Wenger has stated repeatedly over the summer that Sanchez will stick around this season but with Manchester City, PSG and others chasing him, maybe now he has returned to the training ground his future will be sorted out in the coming week.

Wenger spoke over the weekend about Arsenal being in an “ideal” situation when it comes to Sanchez, Mesut Ozil, Jack Wilshere, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and others entering the final year of their respective contracts. Quite why Arsenal can afford to let all of these players is beyond me, but what Wenger is perhaps trying to get at is a change in the nature of business and players holding off signing new deals until they see what else is out there as free agents.

Could Sanchez and Ozil really run down their deals and agree to leave for nothing in January to a non-PL club?

Whatever happens, the hearts of Arsenal’s fans will flutter at the sight of Sanchez smiling and back on the training ground.


Reports: Alli unlikely to play in England’s second Group G match

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The Three Lions may not have taken all good news away from the team’s 2-1 win over Tunisia in their World Cup opener.

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Several reports are suggesting that England will likely be without Tottenham playmaker Dele Alli in their second Group G match against Panama on Sunday.

Alli was forced out of England’s opener with a thigh strain, which gave manager Gareth Southgate the decision to put in Chelsea midfielder Ruben Loftus-Cheek.

There isn’t a timetable for the 22-year-old’s return to the pitch, but his absence will definitely present a major question for Southgate heading into the rest of group play.

Without Alli in the starting XI, it’ll likely be between Loftus-Cheek and Manchester United’s Jesse Lingard to fill the role where Alli normally sits.

In the case of Lingard, who started against Tunisia, the England boss would have to bring in another starter if Southgate opts to have the Red Devils attacker sit in as the number 10.

Report: Newcastle activates $12m release clause of ex-Arsenal youth

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Reports out of Turkey say Newcastle United have finally struck the transfer market for a new No. 10.

[ MORE: West Ham adds Diop ]

Aksam reports that Rafa Benitez got the Magpies hierarchy to activate a near $12 million release clause for Besiktas midfielder Oguzhan Ozyakup.

The 25-year-old was part of Arsenal’s youth set-up until 2012, making two League Cup appearances in 2011-12 before moving to Besiktas.

Dutch-born Ozyakup is 35-times capped with a goal for Turkey, twice captaining the Crescent-Stars.

Ozyakup lost playing time to Talisca this season, and registered just four assists in 24 appearances. In 219 appearances for Besiktas, he’s posted 27 goals with 50 assists.

Like the move for Newcastle?

Lukaku pens inspiring post on hard-scrabble upbringing

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Manchester United and Belgium striker Romelu Lukaku has an inspiring and emotional post in The Players’ Tribune which tugs at the heart strings and explains his competitive fire.

[ MORE: West Ham adds Diop ]

Lukaku talks about how his family’s poverty caused him to become a fierce competitor in the hopes of meeting his dreams head-on and providing for his family.

The Belgian, 25, scored twice in his side’s 3-0 World Cup-opening win over Panama earlier this week, and is now far removed from his youth, but he tells his story as if it lives fresh in his mind.

From The Players’ Tribune:

There were even times when my mum had to “borrow” bread from the bakery down the street. The bakers knew me and my little brother, so they’d let her take a loaf of bread on Monday and pay them back on Friday.

Lukaku also talks about racism in football, his debut for Anderlecht, and that aforementioned competitive drive. It’s 100 percent worth the read.

West Ham signs club record center back from Toulouse

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West Ham has reportedly set a club record with its latest signing under new manager Manuel Pellegrini.

Issa Diop is the player, the 21-year-old Toulouse captain and center back costing the Irons around $29 million.

[ MORE: Arsenal signs Leno ]

Diop scored three goals with an assist and eight yellow cards in 31 Ligue 1 matches this season, giving the young defender 95 apps, six goals, three assists, and 23 yellows since debuting with the senior team at 18.

Capped by France at every level below the senior team, Diop’s 2.2 interceptions per game ranked sixth in Ligue 1.

Toulose finished 18th in Ligue 1, but won its promotion/relegation playoff to stay in the French top flight.

From WHUFC.com:

“I am very happy to sign for such a historic, English club, and I hope to show my best here. I am a very ambitious player and West Ham is a very ambitious club, as we’ve seen with the appointment of the new coach. I hope to help the team win lots of games and make the fans happy.”