Shkodran Mustafi

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Transfer rumor roundup: Man United in talks with Fernandes; Reina to Aston Villa

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A roundup of all of Friday’s biggest transfer rumors, including those involving Premier League outfits.

[ MORE: Premier League January transfer needs ]

After a failed move to Tottenham over the summer, Bruno Fernandes may find himself on English soil after all.

Manchester United are closing to reaching a deal with Sporting Lisboa for their 25-year-old captain Fernandes, according to O Jogo’s Filipe Dias.

The story so far is that United this time are really closing in on Bruno Fernandes,” Dias told Sky Sports. “We ran the story that there are talks between the two clubs and we figured that a deal might be close in the next few days, or hours even, because Sporting need money badly.

“The situation has changed since last summer,”  he added. “They didn’t accept a deal with Tottenham for 70m euros but that would have been paid with €40m upfront and then another €30m.”

Over the summer, Spurs bid a reported $75 million for Fernandes, only for the deal to fall in the late stages. It has been reported that United would get the midfielder at a reduced price given Sporting’s financial hardships.

Emre Can and Donny van de Beek have also been linked to a move to Old Trafford recently.


Aston Villa and AC Milan have agreed on a deal sending Pepe Reina to Villa Park on a season-long loan, according to Sky Sports News.

Both clubs have agreed on a fee for the 37-year-old goalkeeper, who is expected to arrive in Birmingham on Monday to undergo a medical and put pen to paper.

The former Liverpool ‘keeper quickly emerged as Dean Smith‘s following Tom Heaton‘s season-ending injury.

Villa are reportedly also in pursuit of Newcastle striker Dwight Gayle to replace Wesley Morais, who is also out for the season.


Tottenham have made a 18-month loan offer for Benfica’s Gedson Fernandes.

Benfica and West Ham recently agreed a deal in principle for the transfer of the 21-year-old, but Spurs are reportedly making a late push for the midfielder.

Jose Mourinho and company are currently without Moussa Sissoko, who had surgery on his medial collateral ligament late last year.


Arsenal have offered Shkodran Mustafi to Inter Milan, according to Calciomercato.

With newly-appointed Mikel Arteta looking to revamp his squad, Mustafi may see a move this month.

That said, a move to Inter doesn’t seem imminent for the German, as Inter aren’t looking to sign a center-back unless Diego Godin requests a transfer.


Everton are preparing to launch a $33-million bid for Gremio’s Everton Soares, according to ESPN.

The 23-year-old, who has been linked with Borussia Dortmund and Arsenal in the past, has reportedly been approached by Toffees boss Carlo Ancelotti on a move to Goodison Park.

 

Does Boateng to Arsenal make sense?

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Arsenal have admitted they need a new center back after Calum Chamber’s ACL injury and reports suggest that Bayern Munich defender Jerome Boateng is their top target for January.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

Our partners at Sky Sports in Germany claim that Boateng wants to leave in the winter window and the 31-year-old will be able to leave the Bundesliga giants for around $16.7 million.

However, there’s a caveat in this deal as Bayern are currently short of fit center backs and Lucas Hernandez is struggling with his recovery from injury, so they may not be willing to sell Boateng in January.

Would Boateng to Arsenal make sense?

His quality over the years is clear for all to see as the 2014 World Cup winner has won every major trophy possible since joining Bayern in 2011. But does new Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta need another experienced center back a la David Luiz? They probably need to focus on bringing in younger players and they already have William Saliba arriving from Saint-Etienne in the summer after he was signed last summer and then loner back for 2019-20.

Boateng is a more conventional center back and pairing him with one of Luiz or Sokratis would probably work pretty well. Arteta has improved Arsenal in midfield and attack in his first few weeks as boss but Shkodran Mustafi looks set to be on his way out and they need a dominant center back to try and push them on to an unlikely top four finish this season.

The Gunners have been linked with a move for RB Leipzig’s Dayot Upamecano but he is likely to stay with the German side until at least the summer, as they are pushing for the Bundesliga title and are in the UCL last 16.

As for Boateng, he has been pushing for a move away from Bayern for a few years now and after he was axed by German coach Joachim Low after Die Mannschaft’s failure at the 2018 World Cup he’s been out injured and his form has been inconsistent.

But Boateng’s quality remains and with former Germany teammates Bernd Leno, Mesut Ozil and Per Mertescaker at Arsenal, this could be a good fit for everyone involved.

Arteta wants to sign a new center back, Boateng wants to leave and for a player with his experience and quality it is very small transfer fee.

This deal makes so much sense for Arsenal.

PL Sunday preview: Arsenal’s post-Emery era; Man Utd host Villa

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Sunday’s slate of Premier League fixtures features four games, including (but not limited to) the first game of the post-Unai Emery era at Arsenal, Manchester United with a chance to climb into fifth place, and what could be the final game of Marco Silva‘s tenure at Everton.

[ MORE: Mourinho praises “phenomenal” Dele Alli, Spurs supporters ]

Arsenal v. Norwich City — 9 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

Unai Emery was fired by Arsenal on Friday, making way for the Freddie Ljungberg (interim) era to begin on Sunday. With no obvious candidate standing out from all the others, Ljungberg, a long-time favorite as a Gunners player, could be given the chance to impress and have the “interim” tag removed, a la Ole Gunnar Solskjaer a year ago. After taking just three points from their last five PL games, Arsenal have fallen to ninth place, eight points behind fourth-place Chelsea, and could finish the weekend as low as 10th place. On the other hand, a win over 19th-place Norwich would see them climb up to fifth, a point ahead of north London rivals Tottenham Hotspur. Norwich’s Teemu Pukki, who took the PL by storm with five goals in his first three games, hasn’t found the back of the net since Sept. 14, a run of eight straight goal-less games for the Fininish forward.

INJURIES: Arsenal —  OUT: Dani Ceballos (hamstring); QUESTIONABLE: Hector Bellerin (hamstring), David Luiz (ribs), Shkodran Mustafi (foot) | Norwich  — OUT: Alexander Tettey (personal), Grant Hanley (groin), Timm Klose (knee); QUESTIONABLE: Jamal Lewis (knee), Josip Drmic (hamstring)


Wolves v. Sheffield United — 9 a.m. ET, on NBC Sports Gold

Through 13 games of their debut season in the PL, Sheffield United are threatening to “do a Wolves,” in so much that the newly promoted side currently sits seventh — where Wolves finished last season — following a red-hot start. Following a poor start of their own (zero wins from their first six games), Wolves have rebounded nicely (unbeaten in their last eight, including four wins) and climbed all the way up to sixth (each side sat a place higher coming into the weekend).

INJURIES: Wolves —  OUT: Willy Boly (ankle), Ryan Bennett (groin), Romain Saiss (suspension), Morgan Gibbs-White (back) | Sheffield United  — OUT: None


Man United v. Aston Villa — 11:30 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

Nearly four months into the season, Man United are still without back-to-back PL victories. In fact, they’ve not repeated the same result — win, loss or draw — in consecutive league games all season. The Red Devils ave been, if anything, consistently inconsistent. After drawing Sheffield United 3-3 last time out, the best Solskjaer’s side can do on Sunday is get halfway there ahead of Tottenham’s blockbuster visit, and Jose Mourinho’s return, on Wednesday. United’s injury list remains extensive — and expensive — as Paul Pogba and Eric Bailly remain out, with Nemanja Matic perhaps set to return on Sunday. As for Villa, Dean Smith‘s side snapped a three-game losing skid last time out by thoroughly besting Newcastle United at Villa Park to put four points between themselves and the relegation zone. Following Southampton’s victory on Saturday, that gap is already down to two points.

INJURIES: Man United —  OUT: Paul Pogba (ankle), Eric Bailly (knee), Marcos Rojo (undisclosed), Diogo Dalot (groin); QUESTIONABLE: Nemanja Matic (groin), Scott McTominay (ankle) | Aston Villa  — OUT: Jed Steer (calf), Jota (hernia); QUESTIONABLE: Bjorn Engels (hip)


Leicester City v. Everton — 11:30 a.m. ET, on NBC Sports Gold

Every defeat in the coming days could prove to be the final day of Silva’s employment as Everton manager, with the Toffees entering Sunday’s trip to the King Power Stadium in 17th place. It’s not just the number of losses for Everton (seven) on the season thus far, but the sides to which they’ve lost (Villa, Bournemouth, Sheffield United, Burnley, Brighton & Hove Albion and Norwich, to name most of them) that stands out as most embarrassing for a club that thought it would be competing for the top-six this season. Leicester, meanwhile, have happily and swiftly taken their place as the side most likely to break up the monotony of the same clubs finishing atop the table every season. The Foxes entered the weekend in second place (they have since fallen to second), eight points back of Liverpool (now 11), on the back of five straight league victories. Jamie Vardy‘s 12 goals have garnered most of the headlines, but the play-making duo of James Maddison and Youri Tielemans have been arguably more enjoyable to watch

INJURIES: Leicester —  OUT: Matty James (achilles) | Everton  — OUT: Andre Gomes (ankle), Theo Walcott (knock), Jean-Philippe Gbamin (thigh), Morgan Schneiderlin (knock), Fabian Delph (hamstring), Cuco Martina (knee); QUESTIONABLE: Bernard (knee)

Lackluster Arsenal concede late goal, draw Vitoria

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Arsenal dropped their first points in the UEFA Europa League as they drew 1-1 at Vitoria SC in Guimares, Portugal on Wednesday.

[ MORE: Europa League schedule

For the Gunners it was a case of yet another late goal conceded after being ahead.

Shkodran Mustafi nodded home late on as Arsenal looked to be heading home for a win with their only effort on target, but Bruno Duarte’s superb overhead kick in stoppage time snatched a draw for Vitoria.

A much-changed side didn’t play well at all against Vitoria as the pressure remains on Unai Emery shoulders. With the draw Arsenal remain top of Group F and on course to reach the Round of 32, but they will only reach the knockout round on Thursday if Standard Liege lose to Eintracht Frankfurt.

The home side came flying out of the traps as Pepe smashed the post with a superb strike from distance and then Emiliano Martinez was forced into a fine stop to deny a curling effort from the edge of the box.

Davidson’s cross was inches away from Duarte converting as the home side continued to dominate, as Martinez saved Tapsoba’s header before the break.

Mustafi sent a header just over in the second half as Arsenal improved marginally, while Dani Ceballos hobbled off with an injury to give Emery further selection issues.

Vitoria battled hard to keep their chances of getting out of the group stage alive, but Mustafi nodded home Nicolas Pepe‘s fantastic free kick to grab a victory for the Gunners.

1-0 to the Arsenal…

Wolves loanee Leo Bonatini smashed a late effort over the bar as Vitoria looked dead and buried but then Duarte finished superbly to make it 1-1 and set up a grandstand finish.

A cross then deflected off Mustafi and flew inches wide of the post as from the resulting corner Rochinha’s volley was agonzingly close for Vitoria.

The home side have crashed out of the Europa League but they do so with their heads held high, which is more than can be said for Arsenal.

Xhaka offered counselling to cope with Arsenal backlash

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Granit Xhaka has been offered counselling by the club to help him cope with the criticism after he clashed with Arsenal’s fans on Sunday.

Subbed off in the second half of their 2-2 draw with Crystal Palace (Arsenal had led 2-0 early on), Xhaka was booed and jeered by Arsenal’s fans. The club captain then threw his armband to the ground, put his hands to his ears, told the supporter to “f*** off” and took off his shirt before storming straight down the tunnel.

Xhaka, 27, has been left devastated by the incident as Arsenal’s players have been rallying around him and spending time with him at his home.

“He is upset, devastated and very sad,” Arsenal’s manager Unai Emery said. “It is not only yesterday and today. He is feeling the supporters don’t like him.”

Xhaka has yet to publicly apologize for his actions and has since removed ‘Arsenal captain’ from his Instagram profile, instead just keeping that he is captain of Switzerland.

No decision has been made on whether or not he will be stripped of the captaincy, while Emery acknowledge that Xhaka was wrong to react in the way that he did and he will be fined in due course.

Arsenal’s fanbase have been a frustrated bunch for quite some time and last season it was Shkodran Mustafi who became the scapegoat. Now it’s Xhaka’s turn and although his actions were incorrect, you can understand his frustration at being singled out.

Look, Xhaka hasn’t been great since joining from Borussia Monchengladbach for $45 million in the summer of 2017. He’s made huge errors, picked up silly red cards and after being touted as the holding midfielder Arsenal have been missing for a generation, he hasn’t delivered.

But he shouldn’t be made the scapegoat here. You can go through this entire Arsenal side and picked out individuals, especially in midfield and defense, who aren’t playing well enough.

Xhaka was voted as Arsenal’s captain by the players this summer and he is their representative in the public eye. When things are going badly for the team he will have to take a larger share of the blame and he didn’t handle that well on Sunday.

Was it fair? No. Is the abuse part of the society we live in? Unfortunately, yes.