Tomáš Rosický


Former Arsenal midfielder Tomas Rosicky moves to Sparta

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PRAGUE (AP) After 15 years at Borussia Dortmund and Arsenal, Czech playmaker Tomas Rosicky is returning to his former club Sparta Prague.

Sparta announced the move on Tuesday. Details were to be announced at a news conference later in the day.

[ MORE: Latest transfer news

The 35-year-old Rosicky, whose career with Arsenal was marred by frequent injuries, finished his 10 years with the English Premier League club when his final contract expired after the season.

Considered one of the most talented Czech players in decades, he spent three seasons with Sparta before moving to Dortmund in 2001 for what was then a record transfer fee in the Bundesliga.

Rosicky played 105 internationals, and has yet to decide if he wants to continue with the national team.

Injuries strike critical players as Rosicky, Modric both potentially done at Euro 2016

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Both Croatia and the Czech Republic are staring down the gun barrel as the final round of fixtures in Group D play approaches, and both could be without arguably their best outfield players come Tuesday.

Croatia could be without Real Madrid lynchpin Luka Modric as they take on Spain needing just a draw to ensure a spot in the knockout stage, while the Czechs are in a much more dire position and will most certainly miss captain and spark plug Tomas Rosicky for however far their tournament takes them.

Modric tweaked his groin in the second half of Croatia’s 2-2 draw against the Czechs on Friday, a game which saw the Croats leading 2-0 until Modric was withdrawn, at which point they collapsed amid fan unrest in the stands. He is likely to miss the final group stage game against Spain, and would be questionable from that point on.

On the other side of things, the Czechs have already ruled Rosicky out for the rest of the tournament as he suffered a torn thigh muscle in that same match. Team doctor Petr Zeman told media that Rosicky will need three to six weeks to recover, ruling him out at least until mid-July and possibly affecting preseason. Rosicky does not have a club yet after his contract at Arsenal was not renewed.

These injuries could have a large effect on how things shake out in Group D. Spain leads with a perfect six points, and they will take on Croatia who sits in second on four points. Should Spain defeat a Modric-less Croatia, that would leave the Czechs with an opportunity to take second place with a win over point-less Turkey. It’s highly likely a third-placed team with four points would advance, so even if Croatia drops to third – or if the Czechs win but don’t get the help they need – that team would almost certainly move on. Turkey could also finish third should they beat the Czech Republic without its captain, but advancing with three points would be a more unlikely scenario.

Out with the old: Wenger confirms Arsenal to release three this summer

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Arsene Wenger will have to sign a handful of new players during the upcoming summer transfer window … right?

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I know, I know — we’ve said that every May for what seems to be going on a decade now, but this time he really has no choice. (OK, so we’ve also said that before.)

Why do Wenger and Arsenal really have no choice this time, you ask? Speaking ahead of his side’s season finale, against Aston Villa on Sunday (10 a.m. ET, on SYFY and Live Extra), Wenger confirmed the impending departures of three tenured leaders once each of their contracts expire this summer — quotes from London24:

“I believe that Mikel Arteta is the captain of the club and has been a great leader.

“All of these players will have to decide if they go on in their careers as a football player or a coach. Tomas Rosicky has been with us for 10 years and I think everybody loves him as well.

Mathieu Flamini has been an extremely stronger leader on the pitch and off the pitch. We lose three big personalities.”

Arteta, Flamini and Rosicky made 639 combined appearances (all competitions) across 22 combined seasons of service to the Gunners.

[ MORE: Premier League preview — 2015-16’s final day ]

Following their departures, Aaron Ramsey, Santi Cazorla, Francis Coquelin and Mohamed Elneny will be the only central midfielders to make more than three first-team appearances this season, with the oft-injured Jack Wilshere having just made his 2015-16 season debut last month.

Arsenal’s injury crisis — add Sanchez, Cazorla, Koscielny to the list

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From title challengers to just hoping to hold on to a top-four place while Arsene Wenger is forced to play reserves and academy players because half of his star players are currently out injured — the annual story of Arsenal.

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Oct. 27, when Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain both went down with injuries in the same game, marked the unofficial start of Arsenal’s 2015-16 injury crisis, but things didn’t really get going full bore until the last seven days, when five more players — four of them full-time starters — picked up injuries that will keep them out of action for anywhere between three weeks and three months.

Added to the list last weekend: Francis Coquelin (knee – three months minimum), Mikel Arteta (calf – three weeks)

Added to the list on Sunday: Alexis Sanchez (hamstring – MORE DETAILS), Santi Cazorla (knee), Laurent Koscielny (hip)

Following Sunday’s 1-1 draw with Norwich City, Wenger said Koscielny “could not walk” due to the hip spasm that forced him out of the game after just 11 minutes. He also divulged that Cazorla, who could not be subbed off because Wenger had already used all three subs late on, played the second half “on one leg.” Sanchez came into Sunday injured after picking up a hamstring injury in Arsenal’s UEFA Champions League victory over Dinamo Zagreb on Tuesday.

[ MORE: Sunday’s PL roundup — Chelsea, Arsenal, Spurs all draw ]

Arsenal fans were up in arms during the summer transfer window — let’s be honest, the following is true of every transfer window the last five years — crying out, “We must buy, we must buy.” Have a look at Arsenal’s complete injury list at the moment, and try to say, “They didn’t need to buy in the summer.”

In chronological order: Danny Welbeck (knee – early 2016 return), Tomas Rosicky (knee – Christmas time return), Jack Wilshere (leg – Christmas time return), Theo Walcott (calf – December return), Mikel Arteta (calf – three weeks), Francis Coquelin (knee – three months minimum), Laurent Koscielny (hip – to be assessed), Alexis Sanchez (hamstring – to be assessed), Santi Cazorla (knee – to be assessed)

Thierry Henry urges Arsenal to sign a striker, center mid before transfer deadline

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Tick tock, Arsene, the clock is ticking.

That seems to be the message from legendary Arsenal winger/striker Thierry Henry to Arsene Wenger as the 2015 summer transfer window inches closer and closer.

[ MORE: Monday’s transfer rumor roundup ]

Following the Gunners’ 0-0 home draw against Liverpool on Monday, Henry was quick to criticize and urge into action his former manager whose side is, in Henry’s opinion, still a couple of key signings away from competing for this year’s Premier League title.

Henry, on Arsenal’s transfer needs, speaking on UK television network Sky Sports:

“I think it is going to be a massive week — are they going to buy someone up front or in the middle of the park? They were missing a lot of players tonight. They still need a holding midfielder and they still need a striker. We have been saying it since the beginning of the season.”

Wenger, who elected to start a fellow Frenchman Olivier Giroud — of whom Henry has been highly critical in the past — at center forward and leave the smaller, speedier Theo Walcott on the bench until the 73rd minute, has further options in three of the four attacking positions with Danny Welbeck said to be returning from injury soon. For a new striker to arrive, one of the three already at the club would likely have to leave. Don’t forget, Alexis Sanchez can play the position, too.

[ MORE: Benzema tells the “clowns” he’s not trading Real Madrid for Arsenal | Latest transfer news ]

As for the midfield, there’s Aaron Ramsey — whose 2013-14 season was world-class in quality, but regressed a fair bit in 2014-15 — 33-year-old Mikel Arteta, 34-year-old Tomas Rosicky (currently out injured), 31-year-old Mathieu Flamini (starting to see the pattern here?), 24-year-old revelation Francis Coquelin and the often-out-for-three-months Jack Wilshere.

There’s also the sometimes-unreliable Arsenal defense, which, like the unit one line ahead of it, seems woefully undermanned, particularly in the center. With Per Mertesacker (illness) and Laurent Koscielny (back injury) unavailable Monday, Gabriel Paulista, who only signed for Arsenal in January, and Calum Chambers, who’s 20 years old and played mostly right back in his first season with the Gunners, manned the center of defense against Liverpool. They were, to put it nicely, all out of sorts in the first half.

[ MORE: Premier League Playback: How can Man United get the best out of Wayne Rooney? ]

For what it’s worth, Henry’s on-air colleague and Liverpool legend Jaime Carragher backed Henry’s assessment and insisted Wenger needs to splash the cash before next Tuesday, Sept. 2.

“They are so close, Arsenal. They are not far away. But they’ve only signed one player, Petr Cech, who is a big improvement in goal, as we saw that tonight.

“Why hasn’t [Wenger] bought that central midfield player? We say it is a big week but he has had this problem for three years. He is not all of a sudden going to wake up tomorrow morning and say, ‘I want this player’.”