Unai Emery

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Transfer Rumor Roundup: Europa League fallout for Arsenal, Chelsea


With the Europa League final complete and Chelsea reigning supreme, there is plenty of fallout to come with the Blues back in the Champions League and Arsenal failing to seal the deal.

For Arsenal, the blow could be heavy. The club is strapped for cash now headed for its third straight season in the Europa League, and they allowed 28-year-old Aaron Ramsey to depart this summer for free, a financial failure that could have serious consequences.

According to a report by The Mirror, manager Unai Emery is hoping to overhaul the squad this summer, but his job will be difficult given the financial constraints of failing to reach the Champions League. He could be forced to sell assets to generate cash, and while Arsenal fans may be happy to see the likes of Shkodran Mustafi and Mesut Ozil on the list of players who could depart this summer, Henrikh Mkhitaryan could reportedly also be sacrificed in the process. The report states that the wage bill may actually be a bigger obstacle to the club’s acquisition power than transfer funds, yet still there may only be around $50 million for Emery to play with this summer.

Players like Ozil and Mustafi could generate a decent cash flow, but they have underperformed the last few seasons, and Ozil especially has wages that could limit the club’s ability to shop him. The report states that Inter Milan could be a possible destination with possible new manager Antonio Conte hoping to boost the attack.

For Chelsea, their summer is also in question, despite securing Champions League play. The Blues have a potential transfer ban hanging over their heads, and the impending decision by the Court of Arbitration for Sport will have an enormous impact on their proceedings over the next few months.

Regardless of the decision, however, it looks as if Eden Hazard has played his final game in Chelsea blue, and the rumors continue to churn of his departure for Real Madrid. English tabloids have stated that Hazard is off to Real Madrid for an enormous $145 million fee, although that seems unlikely as reports consistently stated over the last few weeks that Los Blancos were holding firm to their $125 million ceiling and that Chelsea would likely concede to that amount due to Hazard’s contract situation.

Should Chelsea be able to replace Hazard this summer and the ban is lifted or delayed, the Blues could look to a former Premier League star to take over. Philippe Coutinho has had a horrible first year at Barcelona, and it seems the club is shopping him to various interested parties. Chelsea could be a perfect landing spot for Coutinho and they could secure him far below market value after his disastrous season at the Camp Nou. Spanish publication Mundo Deportivo claims that Chelsea would be in pole position to secure Coutinho should the CAS allow the club to sign players this summer, and while Manchester United is interested, their lack of Champions League play this season sees them at a serious disadvantage.

Chelsea could also secure the permanent signatures of current loanees Mateo Kovacic and Gonzalo Higuain whether the club is banned from transfer acquisitions or not, as they are both already registered with the club. Kovacic, a Real Madrid player out on loan, could likely be secured on a permanent deal separate from the Hazard negotiation. Higuain, meanwhile, may wait to see if Maurizio Sarri is confirmed as the Chelsea manager next season before he commits his future to Stamford Bridge.

According to Mundo Deportivo in a report that corroborates earlier reporting in the English tabloids, Manchester United is seriously considering a massive offer to free agent midfielder Adrien Rabiot. The Red Devils are reportedly set to offer Rabiot an $12.5 million signing bonus and wages of around $220,000 a week or about $11.5 million a season, which would match the demands he’s stuck to in negotiations over the past few months.

The report states that with other top clubs like Real Madrid, Barcelona, and Juventus unwilling to meet his high financial demands, Rabiot could find United’s offer intriguing. Rabiot, a 24-year-old French midfielder, has had major character issues in the past at both the club and country levels, but his play on the field as a top box-to-box midfielder is helping offset the questions about his personality. Should Manchester United bring Rabiot on, he could directly challenge Paul Pogba for a spot in the team, or even serve as a Pogba replacement should he depart this summer as rumors have suggested over the past few months.

24-year-old Lille attacker Nicolas Pepe is a wanted man this summer, and while he has been linked with a move to Manchester United in recent weeks, Liverpool has also entered the fray, according to Sunday Times reporter Duncan Castles on the Team Talk podcast. Castles said that Liverpool “has been in contact” with Lille still waiting on anything official to come through. Castles says that Lille has been quite public about an asking price in the range of $89 million for the Ivory Coast international who just appears to be entering his prime.

Pepe scored 22 Ligue 1 goals this season which put him second on the campaign behind PSG superstar Kylian Mbappe. He helped Lille finish a stunning second in the league table, qualifying the club for Champions League play for the first time since 2012. Manchester United is in desperate need of reinforcements all over the pitch, but could miss out if Champions League play is a priority to Pepe who has never played in the competition. Still, Liverpool may pass on any players that cost such a hefty amount, as their squad is already one of the strongest in Europe and may not require such a massive cost to add missing pieces.

Emery: I no longer win just to survive

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Soccer is a cut-throat world for both players and coaches, but it appears that finally, Unai Emery has found a landing spot where he doesn’t feel he’s constantly on the hot seat.

In his first season, Emery has led Arsenal to the UEFA Europa League final, an impressive feat considering the side has battled injuries and tough defeats in the Premier League, especially down the closing stretch of the season. In a wide-ranging interview with El Mundo, Emery said that for the first time in his career, he feels pressure to win not just to stay in a job, but to grow Arsenal back into the title-winning side of old.

[READ: Aston Villa is heading back to the Premier League]

“At Arsenal, I have the feeling, for the first time, of winning to build, not to survive,” Emery said. “I feel the respect towards me even when we lose, but I want the defeats to hurt more, because it is a step to improve competitively. I want the mourning for losing to be greater than two hours.”

Earlier in the interview, Emery also mentioned his appreciation for everyone at Arsenal and in England in general, being more welcoming than his time at Paris Saint-Germain. Emery said that he was instantly respected by all the staff, and thanked for working on his English all year.

“When I arrived in Paris, I tried to speak French and the answer, sarcastically, was that I did not speak it well,” Emery demurred. “In London I use very basic English and everyone smiles at me and they thank me for trying.”

In the interview, which touched on many topics including Brexit, the dominance of the Premier League in Europe and Pep Guardiola, Emery spoke of how Arsenal would contain Chelsea, especially Eden Hazard. Emery called the Belgian international star one of the top five players in the world, coming off a season with 16 goals and 15 assists in the Premier League.

Arsenal faces Chelsea on Saturday in Baku, Azerbaijan, in a game overshadowed by the political conflict that has cost Henrikh Mikhtaryan the chance to play there safely.

“Hazard is a player of instants, but decisive instants,” Emery said. “It is what we have to avoid. Chelsea is capable of winning thanks to him, and that ability I have only seen in (Lionel) Messi, Cristiano (Ronaldo), Neymar or (Mohamed) Salah. For me, it is in the quintet of the best in the world. Manchester City, for example, has won its second Premier League, but it has done more from the collective. It is a team more like a chorus, like Tottenham, despite the contribution of Harry Kane and (Heung-min) Son.”

Emery: Arsenal can still ‘do something important’ in Europa League

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Arsenal’s UEFA Champions League depend on one if not two London rivals, but neither will matter much if the Gunners cannot get out of their own way.

Unai Emery‘s men again lost a chance to buttress their Top Four hopes with a 1-1 draw against Brighton and Hove Albion, and now need one of two things to qualify for the UEFA Champions League:

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

  • A combined nine-goal swing in goal differential as Spurs lose on Sunday to Everton while Arsenal beat up on
  • Winning the Europa League.

The latter is more likely, and Emery is focused on defeating Valencia and then either Eintracht Frankfurt or fellow London side Chelsea.

So don’t ask him about missing out on the Top Four. From Arsenal:

“It’s not the moment to talk about next season. I think we need to be strong and be together for next Thursday, which will be a big challenge for us in another competition in which we can do something important. We are going to try to do something. We are very, very disappointed. We spoke [before] the game to finish about our ambition and motivation to finish here with a victory and also to take our chances [to try] and finish fourth.”

Emery noted there’s a big hill to climb, but lots of steps along the way.

“If we are 27 points behind the leaders, that’s the difference. But we are going to work and build up our future.”

There’s also a big difference between what Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp have built at Man City and Liverpool, especially given the massive spends from both that few others can match, but the patience shown to their world class managers.

Europa League preview: Chelsea, Arsenal meet big names

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There are only big boys left in the Europa League, and the tests awaiting Arsenal and Chelsea aren’t sleepy ones.

[ KLOPP: Messi goal was “unsaveable” ]

The Gunners tangle with La Liga mainstays Valencia while their London rivals meet dangerous Bundesliga side Eintracht Frankfurt come Thursday in Germany.

Chelsea will neither have Antonio Rudiger nor Gary Cahill as options in the center of the park, meaning there’s only one safety net to go with Andreas Christensen and David Luiz in the middle.

“We are in trouble with the centre-backs. In the last two trainings we played with Cesar Azpilicueta as a centre-back because I think he is the only other one who can play there. So we are in trouble but this is normal as we have played about 58 games. In the past we were lucky with injuries but in the last 10 days not.”

Eintracht presents a huge problem with a variety of terrific attackers including Real Madrid target Luka Jovic.

Arsenal faces an opponent with similar challenges to itself when it comes to a return to the Champions League; Valencia sits sixth, three points back of Getafe and Sevilla. Only one of the three will go to the Champions League as La Liga’s fourth place team, unless Valencia wins the UEL.

Gunners boss Unai Emery used to run Valencia, well before he was a UEL force with Sevilla, but says not much has changed besides his age. From Arsenal.com:

“My career is about thinking about progressing and learning every day,” he said. “I was there for four years and I enjoyed it. I worked, I learned, I had some very good moments. I also have a lot of friends there, my son and some other big parts of my life.”

PL Preview: Manchester Derby, Wolves-Arsenal

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All Premier League clubs will have played 35 matches this season following the conclusion of two beautiful Wednesday outings in England.

[ MORE: Watford draws Saints ]

Manchester United v. Manchester City — 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN [ STREAM ]

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer poked the bear, and got a response.

Speaking ahead of Wednesday’s Manchester Derby at Old Trafford, Solskjaer claimed Man City “will snap at your ankles and heels and kick you” upon giving up the ball to opponents ready to counterattack.

City boss Pep Guardiola was not pleased with the comments. From The Manchester Evening News:

“I don’t like it. I don’t like it. No. My team is not built to think and create for that, not at all,” he said, later adding, “Maybe tomorrow in the press conference after the game you can ask him again about that.”

Solskjaer is hoping he won’t spend a second successive post-match ruminating over a grievous loss, as he did following a 4-0 beatdown from Everton on Sunday.

And if responding to its UEFA Champions League exit with a Saturday win over Tottenham Hotspur was satisfying for Guardiola, imagine how revved up he’ll be to reclaim hold on the Premier League crown while completing a season sweep of its local rivals for the first time since 2013-14.

City beat United 3-1 at the Etihad Stadium earlier this season, and is looking to avoid its first league loss at Old Trafford in four tries.

Wolves v. Arsenal — 2:45 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Gold [ STREAM ]

Unai Emery‘s Arsenal heads to the Molineux Stadium hoping its away support is better than the perceived harsh treatment handed to his Gunners in a 3-2 home loss to Crystal Palace on Sunday.

“I say to our supporters, ‘Help our players.’ Because I want every player to have big confidence,” Emery said. “I know there are reactions, and the first reaction is strong. First, when we win they are telling us we are the best, we have a record, we have a possibility to be third in the table – that is good.”

Arsenal would move into the Top Four with a win, but Nuno Espirito Santo‘s Wolves are fighting for a place in Europe themselves. That’s true on two fronts, though it must be said they could have sewn up seventh place with better play in recent weeks.

Wolves have claimed just five of their last 15 available points, including a draw with Brighton and losses to Burnley and Southampton. Even one more win would have them seventh heading into Tuesday.

“There’s no reference to the table, the reference is to grow, to improve game by game,” said Wolves manager Nuno Espirito Santo. “Every game is a chance to improve. We have a fantastic opportunity to become a better team, trying new things, but at the same time trying to make players grow on the idea that we want regarding the future. This is what we focus on until the end, there’s no thinking about the summer or next season, it’s a game by game process.”