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Koscielny refuses to go on Arsenal’s U.S. tour

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Arsenal’s captain Laurent Koscielny has refused to travel with the team on their preseason tour of the USA.

Koscielny, 33, has one year left on his current Gunners deal and the likes of Rennes, Bordeaux and Lyon in his homeland want to sign him.

It is believed Koscielny asked to be released from his contract a year early to head back to France, but that request was turned down and Arsenal’s captain has now decided to take this drastic step.

Arsenal have slammed Koscielny in an official statement, as the club have now opened disciplinary proceedings against the French international.

“Laurent Koscielny has refused to travel to the US for our pre-season tour. We are very disappointed by Laurent’s actions, which are against our clear instructions. We hope to resolve this matter and will not be providing any further comment at this time.”

Flying out to California on Thursday, Arsenal will play against the Colorado Rapids in a friendly, then take part in the International Champions Cup with games against Bayern Munich in Los Angeles), Fiorentina in Charlotte and Real Madrid in Washington D.C. before heading back to the UK.

Koscielny’s decision to not turn up for preseason will surely see him stripped of the captaincy, but it also gives Unai Emery an unwanted headache. Last season Emery dealt with Mesut Ozil being unhappy and the Spanish coach was all about unity and having a collective spirit following Arsene Wenger‘s departure.

This decision from Koscielny will no doubt have a huge impact on the locker room.

Shokdran Mustafi, Rob Holding, Callum Chambers, Dinos Mavropanos and Sokratis are Arsenal’s current options at center back, but there’s no doubt Koscielny would have been a starter alongside Sokratis this season.

The Gunners are closing in on a deal to sign French youngster William Saliba from Saint-Etienne for $34 million then loan him back to the Ligue 1 club. Considering this situation with Koscielny, they may try and keep Saliba for the upcoming season instead.

Koscielny has been a fans favorite since he arrived in 2010 and his rise from the lower French leagues to the Premier League and UEFA Champions League while also captaining Arsenal is a great story.

However, in recent years injuries have hit him hard and although nobody really points the finger towards him with regards to Arsenal’s recent defensive frailties, Koscielny has been to blame with some major errors.

Arsenal should probably cut their losses here and let Koscielny leave on a free, as overall he’s been a good servant to the club and they are unlikely to receive that much for him in terms of a transfer fee. Then again, you cannot let one player dictate your transfer dealings as they sets a poor precedent.

What a mess. Koscielny hasn’t conducted himself well here, and Arsenal putting this out in the open has escalated the seriousness of the situation.

Europa League: Arsenal complete comeback over Rennes

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In recent weeks, when Arsenal has been under pressure and against the odds, Unai Emery has pushed all the right buttons.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored a brace and Arsenal completed an incredible comeback from a two-goal aggregate deficit, defeating Rennes, 3-0 on Thursday evening, 4-3 on aggregate. Ainsley Maitland-Niles scored in-between Aubameyang’s pair to help lead Arsenal to the UEFA Europa League quarterfinals.

Aubameyang only needed four minutes to put Arsenal in front on the night, latching onto a cross in the box and finding the back of the net.

Maitland-Niles made it 2-0 after some Rennes defenders lost focus, expecting the referee to stop the action for offside.

Ultimately, Arsenal continued to push for a third goal, but Rennes was holding up much stronger defensively. Yet in the 72nd minute, Sead Kolasinac made his way down the left side and crossed into the middle to Aubameyang, who scored past Rennes goalkeeper Tomas Koubek.

 

Neymar gives jersey to crying boy as PSG beats Rennes

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PARIS — Neymar was whistled off the pitch but showed he held no grudge against the Rennes fans, giving his shirt to a young boy who managed to run across the pitch to hug the Brazil star on Sunday in the French league.

With PSG leading 3-1, Neymar slowly walked back to the Paris Saint-Germain bench in the 90th minute of the match at Rennes as coach Thomas Tuchel made his final substitution when the boy escaped security and ran toward the striker.

[ RECAP: West Ham 0-0 Chelsea ]

The boy burst into tears when he reached the player and pointed at his shirt. Neymar took the boy under his arm and walked back to the sideline, gesturing toward security guards to make them understand the situation was under control and he did not want them to intervene.

Neymar then took off his shirt and gave it to the boy as he was taken away by stewards.

Neymar had a mostly anonymous performance before the incident, with a mediocre display in Brittany. Five days after slumping to its first loss this season in a 3-2 Champions League defeat at Liverpool, PSG struggled in the first half but came from behind to win 3-1 and remain perfect in the French league with a sixth consecutive win.

PSG remains five points clear at the top of the standings.

Playing without the suspended Kylian Mbappe, the defending champions faced strong resistance from an inspired home side that defended well and destabilized PSG on the break.

PSG conceded early when Adrien Rabiot scored a clumsy own goal. Tuchel’s side managed to turn things around with goals from Angel Di Maria, Thomas Meunier and Eric-Maxim Choupo-Moting.

Rennes played with three attacking players and applied early pressure on Gianluigi Buffon’s goal. Mbaye Niang and Ismaila Sarr tested the Italian keeper before Rabiot inadvertently sent the ball into Buffon’s net from a corner after a header from Niang ricocheted off his shoulder in the 11th minute.

Rennes could not build on the momentum and started to play deeper as PSG took control of the match and leveled just before halftime with a low-shot from Julian Draxler’s cut-back pass.

Edinson Cavani hit the post at the start of the second half and Meunier scored at the end of a swift counterattack with a right-footed shot. Subsitute Choupo-Moting then celebrated his league debut with a goal in the 83rd minute from Meunier’s pass.

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/tag/apf-Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

VIDEO: Sarr’s stunning goal in Europa League

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Ismaila Sarr scored a screamer for Stade Rennais in the UEFA Europa League on Thursday.

The Senegalese forward will not hit a shot sweeter than this.

[ MORE: Europa League scores ]

In the first half of Rennes’ clash against Jablonec in Group K, Sarr received the ball after a one-two and drilled a fizzer into the top corner.

Take a look at the video below to see the sublime finish. What a talent the 20-year-old is.


Monaco celebrates title with 12th straight win; PSG held 1-1

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PARIS (AP) Monaco celebrated its French league title by beating Rennes 3-2 for a 12th straight win on Saturday, finishing the season eight points clear of deposed champion Paris Saint-Germain.

[ MORE: Real Madrid is one point away from claiming La Liga title ]

Monaco sealed the title midweek and its players spray-dyed their hair in the club’s colors to celebrate.

[ MORE: Roma closes Serie A gap to one point ]

Monaco scored in its last 32 league games to set a single-season record. It scored 107 league goals – five more than PSG’s total last season – and 158 overall.

PSG conceded an injury-time equalizer in a 1-1 home draw with Caen. The result was priceless for the visitors, ensuring survival in a tense relegation fight. Bastia and Nancy were relegated and 18th-placed Lorient faces a playoff against the third-placed team from division two.

Lorient was moments away from staying up until Ronny Rodelin swept in a 91st-minute equalizer for Caen, having earlier missed a penalty. Caen also had a goal controversially disallowed, and when Rodelin did finally score, his goal set off scenes of wild delight.

Marseille striker Bafetimbi Gomis scored his 20th league goal to ensure fifth place for Marseille and a spot in the Europa League, while relegating Bastia.

RENNES 2, MONACO 3

Brazilian players Fabinho, Jemerson, and Jorge scored for Monaco, which always led, and Adama Diakhaby pulled two back for the home side.

PSG 1, CAEN 1

Midfielder Adrien Rabiot put PSG ahead early but striker Edinson Cavani failed to improve on his league-leading 35 goals.

With three minutes to go, Caen midfielder Julien Feret thought he scored but the goal was ruled out because one of his teammate’s was adjudged to be offside. But Caen coach Patrice Garande was dancing with delight when Rodelin atoned for a penalty miss to keep Caen in the top flight.

LYON 3, NICE 3

Top scorer Alexandre Lacazette bid the perfect farewell to Lyon, scoring twice to break his own record and reach 100 league goals for the club.

Lacazette came through the youth ranks and made his debut eight years ago. He is leaving, possibly to Atletico Madrid.

Lyon took the lead in the 10th minute when Nice defender Maxime Le Marchand inadvertently turned in forward Memphis Depay‘s shot.

Greek striker Anastasios Donis equalized five minutes later after being set up by midfielder Vincent Koziello.

Third-placed Nice salvaged a point with the last kick when midfielder Jean-Michael Seri coolly scored a penalty.

OTHER MATCHES

Lorient gave itself a chance of staying up after drawing with Bordeaux 1-1, and meets third-placed Troyes from the second division in a two-way playoff. A defeat would have relegated Lorient and put Nancy into the playoff on goal difference.

Dijon also ensured its safety with a 0-0 draw at Toulouse, and finished in 16th place, ahead of 17th-placed Caen on goal difference.

Nancy’s 3-1 home win against Saint-Etienne proved to be in vain.

Striker Nicolas De Preville scored a hat trick as Lille beat Nantes 3-0; Angers won against visiting Montpellier 2-0, and Guingamp beat Metz 1-0.