Francis Coquelin

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Arsenal’s Francis Coquelin joins Valencia

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Francis Coquelin has swapped Arsenal for Valencia.

[ MORE: Pulisic to Liverpool, Man United?

The combative midfielder arrived in England in 2008 after catching Arsene Wenger‘s eye at Laval as a teenager, but after a decade at Arsenal he has signed for La Liga side Valencia.

It is believed Arsenal agreed a fee of $16.2 million for the French midfielder who spent spells on loan at Charlton Athletic, Lorient and Freiburg during his time in north London.

Per the official release from Valencia, Coquelin has signed a contract until the summer of 2022 and has a release clause of $96 million.

Coquelin, 26, has become a cult hero at Arsenal over the past few years as his tough tackling displays in midfield helped the Gunners to win the FA Cup in 2015 and 2017 and his steely determination was lauded by fans.

However this season he has made just seven appearances for Arsenal in the Premier League and will be joining a Valencia side battling for the La Liga title as they sit 11 points behind leaders Barcelona but well in the hunt for a return to the UEFA Champions League.

Coquelin’s departure is yet another indication that central midfielder Jack Wilshere will extend his stay at Arsenal beyond this summer as his current contract runs out on July 1.

Apart from Wilshere, the Gunners have a plethora of midfield options with Granit Xhaka, Santi Cazorla and Aaron Ramsey plus emerging talents Ainsley-Matiland Niles and Krystian Bielik coming through.

This deal works out well for everyone at Coquelin has certainly improved massively since 2015 when he was given a run in the first team after a successful loan spell at Charlton.

Wenger confirms Coquelin leaving Arsenal for Valencia

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Francis Coquelin‘s time at Arsenal has come to an end, as the 26-year-old French midfielder will complete a $16-million transfer to La Liga side Valencia in the coming days.

[ MORE: Man City come back to lead Bristol City, 2-1, in other semi ]

While Arsenal will find their midfield ranks depleted following Coquelin’s departure, Valencia will be equally boosted in their challenge for a top-four place in Spain. Los Che currently sit third, five points ahead of Real Madrid and eight clear of fifth-place Sevilla.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger confirmed the move (in very short, certain terms) on Wednesday, following his side’s 0-0 draw with Chelsea in the League Cup semifinal first leg — quote from the BBC:

Asked whether Francis Coquelin is moving to Valencia, Wenger replies, “Yes.”

Coquelin has made just seven Premier League appearances (one start) this season, due in part to injuries as well as having fallen down the defensive-midfield pecking order.

[ MORE: Wednesday’s transfer rumor roundup | Tuesday | Monday ]

Jack Wilshere (left Wednesday’s game with an ankle injury), Aaron Ramsey (has missed the last month with a hamstring injury), Granit Xhaka (currently recovering from a groin injury) and Mohamed Elneny (actually healthy and fit) are the only central midfielders left in the already-thin squad following Coquelin’s departure.

Transfer Rumor Roundup: Sturridge rumored with move to Italy, and more

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After five years at Liverpool, Daniel Sturridge appears ready for a change of scenery.

According to multiple reports, Sturridge has offered himself (surely through his agents) to clubs on loan, including Inter Milan. Due to injuries and having to play behind Roberto Firmino, Sturridge has played just nine Premier League games this season and he’s made five appearances in the UEFA Champions League, all off the bench.

Injuries and a lack of form have derailed Sturridge for most of his career. On his day, the speedy England international is a forward that causes fear in the eyes of opposing defenders. But the multitude of injuries and struggles in front of goal have led to Sturridge taking a backseat under manager Jurgen Klopp, as well as watching his England career fade away.

With the World Cup six months away, Sturridge needs to find playing time and prove he’s fit in order to book a seat on the plane to Russia. Perhaps Inter Milan could be that place.

Here are some more transfer stories from around the Premier League and Europe:

(more…)

French trio sign new contracts at Arsenal

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Olivier Giroud, Laurent Koscielny and Francis Coquelin have all signed new contracts at Arsenal.

[ MORE: Lackluster Liverpool lucky ] 

The deals for the French trio were announced on Thursday morning with Koscielny announcing he has signed on until 2020, but the Gunners haven’t revealed any length on the deals apart from saying they are “long-term contracts” for Giroud, Koscielny and Coquelin.

Here’s what Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has to say about the deals.

“We are very pleased that three important members of our team have committed to us for the long term,” Wenger said. “Francis has made tremendous technical strides over the past few years because he’s so focused every day. Olivier has big experience in the game now and has become a more and more complete player since joining us. Laurent is of course a key part of our squad and I believe one of the best defenders in the world today. So overall, this is great news for us.”

Giroud has scored four goals in his last four games in all competitions, including an incredible scorpion kick goal against Crystal Palace over the festive period, and he scored 24 goals last season as Arsenal’s top scorer. The 30-year-old has had to be patient for his chance this season as Alexis Sanchz has led the line but Giroud has been in fine form with a better goals per minute played ratio than any other player in the Premier League.

Koscielny’s importance to Arsenal is clear with the French international defender, who joined in the summer of 2010, captaining Arsenal in Per Mertesacker‘s absence. His calming presence is key on Arsenal’s defense, while Coquelin has added extra bit to midfield over the past two seasons as he’s become an integral part of the side and one of the first names on the teamsheet in the holding midfield role.

Of course this is all great news for the Gunners but there are three other current members of the team/staff who need to commit their future to the club.

Alexis Sanchez, Mesut Ozil (both have 18 months left on their deal) and manager Wenger (his deal runs out this summer), you’re next.

Arsenal close to signing Nigerian teen stars; Coquelin, others return

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Arsene Wenger is the king of picking up talented youngster from all over the world and fitting them into the Arsenal mold.

Looks like he’s at it again.

[ MORE: Miazga deal good for USA? ]

Speaking ahead of Arsenal’s FA Cup fourth round clash against Burnley this weekend the Gunners’ boss confirmed that moves for Nigerian duo Kelechi Nwakali and Samuel Chukwueze are progressing and should be completed before the January transfer window closes next Monday at 6 p.m. ET.

Both Golden Eagles stars excelled during their U-17 World Cup win in 2015 as midfielder Nwakali, 17, was named the player of the tournament and right winger Chukwueze, 16, scored three times and added six assists.

[ MORE: Van Gaal wants to see out contract ] 

Both players play for the Diamond Football Academy in Nigeria and Arsenal have beaten off reported interest from Manchester City and Bayern Munich to set up the imminent deal.

“Yes. The (talks) are progressing well,” Wenger said.“There are work permit issues, there are medical issues, because they have to make medicals. It’s progressing well.

“We identified Nwakali as the player of the tournament, basically, and as a top player. We will see if we can manage to get it over the line during this transfer period. [If we can], we will do it. He (Chukwueze) is signing as well.”

The likes of Cesc Fabregas and Theo Walcott are examples of youngsters picked up by Wenger and nurtured into stars and he continues to have great success at replicating that model with current first team stars Francis Coquelin and Hector Bellerin also arriving as teenagers.

[ MORE: USMNT’s Miazga a “squad player for future”

In injury news Wenger confirmed that defensive midfielder Francis Coquelin will return to action this weekend after getting injured in early November, while Tomas Rosicky will also be available for selection after the Czech Republic midfielder overcame a long-term knee injury.

“Francis is available to play now because he has passed two weeks of full training,” Wenger said. “Tomas is also available for selection.”

Another boost for the title-chasing Gunners is that striker Danny Welbeck is back in full training after suffering a knee injury that has kept him out since lats April. The England international, 25, is short of match sharpness but will play a part in the run-in.

The only two players out of Arsenal’s squad at the moment are Santi Cazorla and Jack Wilshere who are both returning from injury, while Per Mertesacker will not feature on Saturday against Burnely after receiving a red card against Chelsea.