Henrikh Mkhitaryan

Getty Images

Transfer Rumor Roundup: Europa League fallout for Arsenal, Chelsea

2 Comments

With the Europa League final complete and Chelsea reigning supreme, there is plenty of fallout to come with the Blues back in the Champions League and Arsenal failing to seal the deal.

For Arsenal, the blow could be heavy. The club is strapped for cash now headed for its third straight season in the Europa League, and they allowed 28-year-old Aaron Ramsey to depart this summer for free, a financial failure that could have serious consequences.

According to a report by The Mirror, manager Unai Emery is hoping to overhaul the squad this summer, but his job will be difficult given the financial constraints of failing to reach the Champions League. He could be forced to sell assets to generate cash, and while Arsenal fans may be happy to see the likes of Shkodran Mustafi and Mesut Ozil on the list of players who could depart this summer, Henrikh Mkhitaryan could reportedly also be sacrificed in the process. The report states that the wage bill may actually be a bigger obstacle to the club’s acquisition power than transfer funds, yet still there may only be around $50 million for Emery to play with this summer.

Players like Ozil and Mustafi could generate a decent cash flow, but they have underperformed the last few seasons, and Ozil especially has wages that could limit the club’s ability to shop him. The report states that Inter Milan could be a possible destination with possible new manager Antonio Conte hoping to boost the attack.


For Chelsea, their summer is also in question, despite securing Champions League play. The Blues have a potential transfer ban hanging over their heads, and the impending decision by the Court of Arbitration for Sport will have an enormous impact on their proceedings over the next few months.

Regardless of the decision, however, it looks as if Eden Hazard has played his final game in Chelsea blue, and the rumors continue to churn of his departure for Real Madrid. English tabloids have stated that Hazard is off to Real Madrid for an enormous $145 million fee, although that seems unlikely as reports consistently stated over the last few weeks that Los Blancos were holding firm to their $125 million ceiling and that Chelsea would likely concede to that amount due to Hazard’s contract situation.

Should Chelsea be able to replace Hazard this summer and the ban is lifted or delayed, the Blues could look to a former Premier League star to take over. Philippe Coutinho has had a horrible first year at Barcelona, and it seems the club is shopping him to various interested parties. Chelsea could be a perfect landing spot for Coutinho and they could secure him far below market value after his disastrous season at the Camp Nou. Spanish publication Mundo Deportivo claims that Chelsea would be in pole position to secure Coutinho should the CAS allow the club to sign players this summer, and while Manchester United is interested, their lack of Champions League play this season sees them at a serious disadvantage.

Chelsea could also secure the permanent signatures of current loanees Mateo Kovacic and Gonzalo Higuain whether the club is banned from transfer acquisitions or not, as they are both already registered with the club. Kovacic, a Real Madrid player out on loan, could likely be secured on a permanent deal separate from the Hazard negotiation. Higuain, meanwhile, may wait to see if Maurizio Sarri is confirmed as the Chelsea manager next season before he commits his future to Stamford Bridge.


According to Mundo Deportivo in a report that corroborates earlier reporting in the English tabloids, Manchester United is seriously considering a massive offer to free agent midfielder Adrien Rabiot. The Red Devils are reportedly set to offer Rabiot an $12.5 million signing bonus and wages of around $220,000 a week or about $11.5 million a season, which would match the demands he’s stuck to in negotiations over the past few months.

The report states that with other top clubs like Real Madrid, Barcelona, and Juventus unwilling to meet his high financial demands, Rabiot could find United’s offer intriguing. Rabiot, a 24-year-old French midfielder, has had major character issues in the past at both the club and country levels, but his play on the field as a top box-to-box midfielder is helping offset the questions about his personality. Should Manchester United bring Rabiot on, he could directly challenge Paul Pogba for a spot in the team, or even serve as a Pogba replacement should he depart this summer as rumors have suggested over the past few months.


24-year-old Lille attacker Nicolas Pepe is a wanted man this summer, and while he has been linked with a move to Manchester United in recent weeks, Liverpool has also entered the fray, according to Sunday Times reporter Duncan Castles on the Team Talk podcast. Castles said that Liverpool “has been in contact” with Lille still waiting on anything official to come through. Castles says that Lille has been quite public about an asking price in the range of $89 million for the Ivory Coast international who just appears to be entering his prime.

Pepe scored 22 Ligue 1 goals this season which put him second on the campaign behind PSG superstar Kylian Mbappe. He helped Lille finish a stunning second in the league table, qualifying the club for Champions League play for the first time since 2012. Manchester United is in desperate need of reinforcements all over the pitch, but could miss out if Champions League play is a priority to Pepe who has never played in the competition. Still, Liverpool may pass on any players that cost such a hefty amount, as their squad is already one of the strongest in Europe and may not require such a massive cost to add missing pieces.

Europa League Final preview: Arsenal v. Chelsea

AP Photo/Frank Augstein
1 Comment

It’s Arsenal last chance at qualifying for the UEFA Champions League, and perhaps Maurizio Sarri‘s final opportunity to win a piece of silverware at Chelsea.

And, oh yeah, it’s a London Derby pitting rivals against each other in a controversial setting for a European final.

Chelsea and Arsenal meet Wednesday for the right to lift the UEFA Cup, squaring off in Baku, Azerbaijan at 3 p.m. ET.

[ MORE: Transfer rumor roundup ]

Arsenal will be without Henrikh Mkhitaryan, who elected to skip the match given the poor relations between Azerbaijan and his native Armenia. Chelsea may be missing N'Golo Kante, though the Blues have not ruled out the influential French midfielder.

The weight of the game is heavier for Arsenal, who will have to sell summer recruits on a year free of the Champions League if it fails to win in Baku.

We don’t know whether Unai Emery will tab Petr Cech as his starting goalkeeper before the Arsenal man leaves for the sporting director role at Chelsea.

Cech is still focused on the Gunners, and says not to be worried about Arsenal rising to the occasion.

“I feel that when Arsenal need to win, we win,” he said. “You go to Athens in the last Champions League group game needing to win 2-0 and you win 3-0. No matter where, we win, because that fire was right behind us as we had to really win. The pressure was what was pushing us.”

Both Sarri and Eden Hazard could be appearing at their final match for Chelsea, and the playmaking Real Madrid target feels this is a good chance to say goodbye from a top position.

“When you play for Chelsea at the start of the season, people think about which trophy we can have at the end of May, so this one is the important one. We lost the League Cup final, so at the end of the season this is the trophy we can go for. “I just want to win the trophy, that is it. It does not matter if I score or I do not score. If it is my last game, I hope to bring the trophy. … Would it be the perfect farewell? Yes.”

It’s the second Europa League Final for both teams, with Arsenal losing to Galatasaray in penalty kicks (2000) and Chelsea beating Benfica in 2013.

Transfer gossip: Maguire to Man City; Carrasco to Arsenal

Getty Images
Leave a comment

The Premier League transfer window is officially open again and that means one thing: transfer reports are going to start kicking up a few notches.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Here’s a look at some of the latest gossip from around the PL…


Harry Maguire is a wanted man, with both Manchester clubs set to battle out to sign him for $100 million this summer. If that fee is north of $100 million it means Maguire will become the most expensive center back in history and eclipse the fee Liverpool paid to sign Virgil Van Dijk in January 2018.

A report in the Daily Mail claims that Man City are the frontrunners as Maguire, 26, is seen as the number one replacement for legendary center back and captain Vincent Kompany who has left the club at the end of his contract.

Maguire’s ball-playing ability from defense and his penchant to stroll into midfield with the ball suits Pep Guardiola‘s playing philosophy perfectly. John Stones was supposed to be the man filling that role, but Kompany and Aymeric Laporte were the go-to partnership this season with Stones and Nicolas Otamendi the odd men out.

Even with Kompany’s departure, City don’t really need another center back as Tosin Adarabioyo (he spent the 2018-19 season on loan at West Brom) could make the step up as a fourth-choice central defender.

Maguire signed a new contract last summer after prolonged interest from Manchester United, as the former Sheffield United and Hull City player underlined his meteoric rise with a superb tournament for England at the 2018 World Cup last summer.

Unlike some of City’s other defenders, Maguire wants to defend first but then has the ability to turn defense into attack with one surging run. United’s need for a commanding center back is far greater than Man City’s but if you are Maguire, how do you turn down the chance to work for Guardiola and a team who plays a style that perfectly suits your own game?


Arsenal are said to be back in for Yannick Carrasco.

The Belgian winger, 25, has spent the past 18 months playing for Chinese Super League side Dalian Yifang but told the Sun Arsenal were interested in signing him in January, along with a “lot of teams in January giving me the chance to go back to Europe” but the club didn’t want to sell him.

Carrasco, who arrived from Atletico Madrid in February 2018, wants to move back to Europe this summer if the right opportunity crops up.

“All that you want is to be close to your family, and to go back to Europe is a good solution. I’m OK here, the club is good with me, the players and fans also are nice with me. But you know, when you are far from your family, and I think I can do good things in the European game, I am thinking it’s a solution if I can go back.”

Do Arsenal need another winger? The form of Alex Iwobi and Henrikh Mkhitaryan has been up and down in Unai Emery‘s first season as Arsenal manager, while Mesut Ozil no longer seems to be played out wide. Carrasco is available to play anywhere across the frontline but is most comfortable as a left winger and that is an area where Arsenal need some reinforcement.

He spoke about his ability to defend as well as attack and that is something which will be music to the ears of Emery as he aims to strike a better balance in his team which conceded 51 goals in the Premier League in 2018-19 to finish in fifth place.

Signing Carrasco, or other players of a similar ilk, is determined by one thing: qualifying for the UEFA Champions League by beating Chelsea in the UEFA Europa League final in Baku on May 30.

Arsenal, Mkhitaryan in talks over missing Europa League final

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Henrikh Mkhitaryan may not play for Arsenal in their UEFA Europa League final against Chelsea.

Not because of injury. Not because he’s suspended. But because of safety fears due to his citizenship.

The final on May 29 is being held in Baku, Azerbaijan and they have no diplomatic relations with the country of Mkhitaryan’s birth, Armenia.

Due their conflict over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region, tensions are high between Azerbaijan and Armenia and Mkhitaryan did not travel for Arsenal’s Europa League game against Qarabag in Azerbaijan earlier this season.

According to multiple reports Arsenal are in touch with UEFA about the situation, as European soccer’s governing body have offered to help secure a visa for Mkhitaryan to travel in and out for the game.

What a mess.

Mkhitaryan is the captain of the Armenian national team and will no doubt be a target if he enters Azerbaijan. Surely Arsenal will not risk taking him with them, even though he would be a valuable asset to Unai Emery‘s team on the pitch. Mkhitaryan, 30, has played in 39 games for Arsenal this season and has scored six times, adding seven assists. Not having him available for this game would be a blow for the Gunners.

After Arsenal sent out a strong statement questioning why Baku was selected as a host city due to their own fans and Chelsea supporters struggling to get to the Azerbaijani capital for the final — both clubs were handed only 6,000 tickets in a 69,000 capacity venue — they will be feeling even more hard done by with Mkhitaryan’s status up in the air.

“We have 45,000 season ticket holders and for so many fans to miss out due to UEFA selecting a final venue with such limited transport provision is quite simply not right,” Arsenal said in a statement. They have also expressed their displeasure at their British-Armenian season ticket holders being denied entry to Azerbaijan for the final.

It is totally understandable that UEFA want to spread the love and take their showpiece finals all over the region and to cities and countries who haven’t previously hosted the events, but serious questions have to be asked about other cities after such extreme issues for both of the finalists this season.

Aubameyang double helps Arsenal down Burnley (video)

1 Comment

A Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang double saw Arsenal finish the Premier League season on a winning note, and the Gabon international draw level with the Premier League top scorers as Arsenal topped Burnley 3-1 at Turf Moor on the final day of the season.

Aubameyang started the day off strong, hitting the bar in the opening minutes. A free kick from a lateral angle swung in to the near post and the Arsenal striker clattered the crossbar with a chested ball. Tom Heaton was also forced into action in the early going, with Aubameyang again coming close minutes later.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Arsenal was nearly broken down past the half-hour mark on a scrum in the box but a critical tackle from Mateo Guendouzi kept Burnley off the board. Just before the break, James Tarkowski got his head to a corner, but it fired just wide.

The Gunners had a familiar sight when Konstantinos Movrapanos went off injured past the half-hour mark, with Laurent Koscielny coming on in his place. The back line for the Gunners this season has been a revolving door with injuries dotting the landscape, and now with the Europa League final on the horizon, they will have to deal with another.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Burnley finally broke thanks to a poor back-pass from Jack Cork, leaving Ben Mee in trouble. Aubameyang snatched the wayward ball, and he finished cooly through on goal for the opener 52 minutes in, his 21st goal of the season.

The second came 10 minutes later with Aubameyang on the double, smashing home a looped cross from Alex Iwobi to the far post. The goal was notable in the Golden Boot race, but Burnley made sure the celebration was short-lived as a header from Ashley Barnes pegged the Gunners back.

Aubameyang had a glorious chance to not only seal his hat-trick but also to win the Golden Boot, and he somehow missed. Henrikh Mkhitaryan‘s pinpoint cross came right to a sliding Aubameyang at the doorstep, but he managed to put it wide with the goal gaping.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

19-year-old Eddie Nketiah finished off the scoreline with the final kick of the game as he scored from an absurdly tight angle, squeaking it through a defender’s legs right on the end line and into the far corner. The goal was somewhat noteworthy given that Aubameyang was wide open at the penalty spot calling for the ball, and another goal for him would have sealed not only the hat-trick but the Golden Boot outright. Instead, Nketiah took it himself and wrapped up the game.

With the win, Arsenal finished the season in fifth, just a point off the Champions League places with 70, inches behind rival Tottenham’s 71-point haul. Burnley ends up in 15th, right on the magical 40-point mark.