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Emery hands new Arsenal deal to Granit Xhaka

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Granit Xhaka will start his third season at the Emirates Stadium with a brand new contract for new boss Unai Emery.

The Swiss midfield disruptor and playmaker, 25, is extending his stay at Arsenal with a new “long-term” deal, the club announced late Friday.

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Xhaka played in every match for the Gunners last season. His seven assists were third on Arsenal and his 10 yellow cards paced the North London outfit.

Only 13 players in the Premier League registered more assists, and Southampton’s Oriol Romeu was the only player to be shown more yellows.

New Arsenal defender Stephan Lichtsteiner is Xhaka’s captain for Switzerland, and lauds the midfielder in an interview on the Gunners’ official page:

“I’ve known Granit now for more than six or seven years, so he’s just an amazing player,” Lichtsteiner told Arsenal Player.

“He’s very good and he’s still young. It’s not easy for him to be the direct leader at 23 or 24 years old, so I hope I can help him to become bigger and bigger. He had a very good season and I hope next year he will do even better.Off the pitch he is just a great person, a great character, very calm, he knows when he can joke and he knows when to concentrate. A top professional player on the pitch, great passing and just a great player.”

Like the deal, Arsenal fans? Xhaka seems a lightning rod amongst Arsenal supporters, but it’s hard to debate his impact on games (especially when in form).

Free transfers: Lichtsteiner to Arsenal; Fredericks to West Ham

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Arsenal will sign 34-year-old Swiss defender Stephan Lichtsteiner on July 1 when his current contract with Italian champions Juventus expires.

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And the experienced defender, who joins on a one-year deal, will be Unai Emery’s first signing as Gunners boss.

The right back has been at Juve since 2011 and has reached two UEFA Champions League finals with the Turin giants, as well as winning seven-straight Serie A titles and four consecutive Italian cups. He will also captain Switzerland at the World Cup this summer.

Speaking about his move to Arsenal, Lichtsteiner is looking forward to the challenge ahead as they aim to break back into the top four of the Premier League.

“It’s a great moment. It’s great for me after Juventus to come to Arsenal and have this big challenge to make big things [happen] with this big club,” Lichtsteiner said. “I’ve never played against Arsenal, but of course there was the big era of Wenger. He won a lot of titles with Arsenal and [made them] a big team. Now it’s a new moment. Wenger went and now everything is a bit new, so it’s a big challenge.”

His new manager at Arsenal believes the Swiss national team captain can help the Gunners in other ways than just on the pitch.

“Stephan brings huge experience and leadership to our squad. He’s a player with great quality with a very positive and determined attitude. Stephan will improve us on and off the pitch,” Emery said.

Lichtsteiner will add competition for Hector Bellerin at right back and the veteran defender is also able to play elsewhere in defense and midfield to add extra cover to the backline.

With another UEFA Europa League campaign coming up for Arsenal, Emery will certainly need a large squad to rotate between domestic and European action in 2018/19.


It was a busy day for right backs coming to the Premier League on a free transfer as Ryan Fredericks arrived at West Ham United.

Fredericks, 25, was a regular for Fulham as they were promoted to the PL via the Championship playoffs (he was named in the 2017/18 PFA Championship Team of the Year) but his deal with the Cottagers expires on July 1 and he was locked into contract talks but couldn’t agree on a new deal at Craven Cottage.

The Hammers and their new boss Manuel Pellegrini are delighted to have snapped up the attacking full back on a four-year deal.

“It’s amazing for this deal to finally happen,” Fredericks said. “I know we’ve been speaking about it for a while and trying to get things in place and finally, we’ve got it over the line. I’m just buzzing to be here. West Ham United is one of the biggest clubs in the Premier League. Everyone knows the history of West Ham and there’s a lot of factors that brought me to the club.

“Obviously, it’s an exciting time for West Ham. The club have just brought in a new manager in Manuel Pellegrini and everyone knows his CV and what he has done in England before and in other leagues as well. I’m sure I can learn a lot from him.”

Fredericks, who began his career at Tottenham’s youth setup before moving on to Bristol City and then Fulham, will fight with the likes of Pablo Zabaleta and Sam Byram for playing time at right back at the London Stadium.

Reports: Arsenal nearing deal for Lichtsteiner on free transfer

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According to multiple reports in England, including the BBC, Arsenal is looking to sign Juventus right-back Stephan Lichtsteiner on a free transfer this summer, potentially becoming the first signing under new manager Unai Emery.

Lichtsteiner is out of contract at Juventus this summer, having been with the club since 2011. Lichtsteiner has played in Italy since joining Lazio in 2008.

The Swiss international will captain his country at the World Cup this summer in Russia and will earn his 100th cap in his second match at the event.

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Lichtsteiner has been a mainstay in a Juventus squad that has won seven consecutive Serie A titles, but at 34 years old has been slowly phased out. He has made less than 30 Serie A appearances each of the last seasons, despite a nearly spotless bill of health since undergoing heart surgery in October of 2015. Last season, Lichtsteiner completed just nine full 90 minute performances, including just three after November. Lichtsteiner may have had an even smaller role this most recent campaign had Mattia de Sciglio not struggled with injuries for much of the season.

The Gunners have Hector Bellerin as the club’s main right-back, with the Spaniard leading the squad in total minutes played this past season. However, Bellerin’s level of performance has regressed considerably since proving one of the best young Premier League players in his first full season in 2015/16.

Lichtsteiner has also been linked with a move to Borussia Dortmund, where Lukasz Piszczek mans the right-back spot, but talks between the clubs reportedly broke down.

Rumors know no window: Liverpool after Reus, Manchester United wants Draxler

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January’s barely more than two months away, which means we’re creeping closer and closer to the madness that is an open transfer window and its associated rumor mill.

The Metro is reporting that Liverpool is the frontrunner for Borussia Dortmund wizard Marco Reus, who has seen contract talks with his current club come to a close. The numbers for the Reds to snare Reus, who has 7 goals in 23 caps for Germany: $51 million in transfer money and about $288,000 in wages per week.

But Bayern Munich wants him — as do myriad teams, but can the others afford him? Sky Sports reports that Bayern chief Karl-Heinz Rummenigge publicly claimed the following to draw the ire of Dortmund: A young, Germany international with such quality is probably interesting for us, but I don’t want to cause any ill-feeling with Dortmund.”

Riiiiiiiiight.

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source: AP
Draxler

Believe it or not, Arsenal’s Arsene Wenger may’ve seen the error of his transfer ways, and may bring in a defender into his squad this January. Jokes aside, the rumors of Wenger signing 30-year-old Juventus back Stephan Lichtsteiner don’t exactly fit his modus operandi. But there’s no debate over whether the Gunners need back line help, and the Swiss star certainly would do the trick.

Not content with dominating parts of the summer transfer window and not switching sides, Sami Khedira now is drawing the interest of Manchester City in addition to Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester United. We’ll believe it once the move is complete and he’s holding up a jersey.

The Daily Express says that Manchester United are already sold when it comes to keeping on-loan Radamel Falcao around, and will pay AS Monaco close to $71 million to secure his services full-time. The Daily Star also claims that the Red Devils will land Julian Draxler from Schalke, foiling Arsenal’s long-term desires.

Not a rumor: Always in-demand English attacker Thomas Ince is going on loan from Hull City to Nottingham Forest.

At halftime: Switzerland looks dangerous but it’s Ecuador on top through Enner Valencia

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Story of the half: Switzerland pounded the Ecuadorian goal, but it was the South Americans who put themselves on top midway through the first half, and have the advantage at the break.

The Swiss ripped off nine shots to Ecuador’s four, but could not find a solid attempt on goal to beat Alexander Dominguez in front of Ecuador’s net.

The red-hot Enner Valencia was the man to bag Ecuador’s goal, on one of the easier headers he’ll ever pick out after finding himself all alone on a free kick.

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Goals:

22′ – From a free kick from the tight left corner, Enner Valencia somehow was left completely alone in the box and he easily nodded the free kick home with his head for a 1-0 Ecuadorian lead, leaving Johan Djourou in his dust.

Other key moments:

12′ – Josip Drmic popped up in the box with the ball somewhat out of nowhere, but a well-timed and well-placed tackle by Jorge Guagua kept him from taking a crack at goal from close range.

16′ – Bayern Munich’s Xherdan Shaqiri picked up the first shot on target, with a strong strike but right at Dominguez who saved low and well.

34′ – Valon Behrami sent in an unbalanced header off a corner, and although Dominguez spilled the first save he collected to prevent a rebound.

LINEUPS:

Switzerland – Benaglio; Lichtsteiner, Von Bergen, Rodriguez, Djourou; Xhaka, Behrami, Inler; Drmic, Stocker, Shaqiri.

Ecuador – Domínguez; Paredes, Guagua, Erazo, Ayoví; Gruezo, Noboa, A Valencia, Noboa; E Valencia, Caicedo.

Goals: E. Valencia 22′

Key players:

Enner Valencia – The Ecuadorian striker who picked up the only goal of the first half, Valencia came into this match in scorching form, with 12 goals in his last 17 matches for Mexican club Pachuca. He’s on target today, and continues to be his country’s best attack up front.

Stephan Lichtsteiner – The biggest Swiss threat down the right side, Lichtsteiner was a force going forward, pumping in four crosses and creating one chance.

Numbers to know:

67% – The amount of possession Switzerland held in that first half of play.

221 – The number of passes Switzerland completed, more than double Ecuador’s total of 95

2 – The number of crosses Switzerland completed out of 16 attempted, while Ecuador is 1/6.

Questions for the second half:

  • Can Switzerland get a good shot on target? They’ve had a few decent chances in the first half but nothing outstanding.  Their midfield is proving to be a positive, holding possession and passing well, but they so far have not been able to make it through Ecuador’s back line.
  • Can Ecuador put this game away? We told you before the match how Ecuador has had trouble scoring in the recent pass. They pulled one off against the run of play in the first half, but if Switzerland continues to hold this much of the ball and bomb their fullbacks up, Ecuador may need to get another in order to pull off all three points.