ARSENAL are back in training as they prepare for the likely return of the Premier League next month.
And they could be about to complete a double Barcelona deal as they reportedly begin talks with Philippe Coutinho while the Catalans significantly drop their asking price for fellow Gunners target Ousmane Dembele.
Get the latest news, gossip and updates from the Emirates here…
KEN YOU HELP?
Kenny Sansom’s family have called on his former clubs to support the England legend as he fights for his life.
The former Arsenal and Crystal Palace defender has been in hospital for five weeks after a violent assault last month.
His brother and three children have been at Sansom’s bedside virtually ever since as he tries to recover.
But yesterday a source close to footballer said he was likely to need a lot of support if he was to overcome this battle.
They said: “With all the money flying around the game, Kenny’s family are hoping that the sport will support him and help him to get back on his feet.
“They know that nobody owes Kenny anything but he really is going to need all the help he can get.”
BRING AND 'BI
United have joined Arsenal in the race to land wantaway Juventus midfielder Adrien Rabiot, according to reports.
Rabiot, 25, has only managed 11 Serie A starts after struggling to cement his role in Juve's congested midfield.
And now boss Maurizio Sarri will offload if he receives an offer in the region of £27million.
According to Gazzetto dello Sport, United are looking to make their move and have already held talks with his mother Veronique who acts as his agent.
Boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is looking to bolster his squad when the transfer window opens and sees Rabiot as a bargain buy.
It is also suggested that United have sent scouts to watch him in action on several occasions over the campaign.
Arsenal chief Raul Sanllehi has been holding talks with other club chiefs around Europe – to test the waters ahead of the transfer window, according to reports.
Nobody knows how the market is going to settle when it does open, and how much player transfer fees will fall by.
One thing is for certain, clubs will be tied into contracts and big-money transfers are simply less likely to happen than in the last few decades.
Football.London has even speculated that the Gunners could lose £144million if there are no fans at the Emirates in 2020/21.
Ashley Cole has revealed he left Arsenal just two years after the amazing Invincibles season – because he did not think they were serial winners anymore.
England left-back Cole quit to join London rivals Chelsea in 2006 – and says the culture was “falling apart” on the red side of London.
Arguably the greatest Premier League left-back of all-time, Cole told the BBC: “The transition in terms of being in a different group, environment and players was easy because, at the time when I first started at Arsenal, we had a core – the Keowns, the Seamans, the Vieiras, the Henrys, the Adams'.
“When they started to leave, I felt there were holes in the culture of what it was that brought success. I just felt it was falling apart a bit, or there were gaps missing, and they weren't filled.
“So that transition in terms of finding myself in a different culture and the willingness and want to win, I went to Chelsea, and I had that.”
DAY OF THE TACKLE
Premier League stars were cleared to kick off close-contact training on Sunday in a boost for the return of top-flight football.
New Stage Two guidance lets elite athletes train in pairs and small groups and waives the two-metre social distancing rule.
The news put a smile on the face of Wilfried Zaha as he began Crystal Palace training on Sunday.
And the easing of restrictions came as just two new positive results returned from 996 Premier League tests last week. They were logged at different clubs and the figure is four fewer than the week before.
More testing is due today and tomorrow before league bosses decide on Wednesday whether full-contact training will resume.
COUTINHO TO ARSENAL ANALYSIS
French outlet Le 10 Sport have claimed Arsenal have “opened talks” with Philippe Coutinho over bringing the Barcelona misfit to the Emirates this summer.
It is said that Gunners boss Mikel Arteta is driving the deal and “dreams” of making the former Liverpool star the focal point of his team.
Given Bayern Munich have passed up their opportunity to make Coutinho's loan permanent for a reported £105milllion, he wouldn't come cheap.
Arsenal would likely have to break the £72m they paid Lille for Nicolas Pepe last summer – although that will be paid over five years – but Barcelona may be keen to sell.
If Coutinho was to arrive at Arsenal that would surely spell the end for Mesut Ozil, who is out of contract in 2021. The Gunners paying two big wages for similar players is almost out of the question.
Coutinho would capture the imagination of their fans though and could help negate the possible departure of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang if he was to leave this summer.
It's an interesting transfer, one which Arsenal fans will be hoping to hear more on.
MORNING ARSENAL FANS
Following a busy weekend of transfer talk, it has emerged that Ainsley Maitland-Nies is set to leave the Gunners.
The 22-year-old is likely to be offloaded in the summer after falling out of favour under Mikel Arteta.
He is under contract at the Emirates until 2023, but The Athletic claim Arsenal will get rid of him at the very next opportunity.
Meanwhile, Arteta's side are set to open talks with Philippe Coutinho's agent over a summer deal for the Brazilian.
Chelsea are among the clubs that have been linked to him, but Le10 Sport claim the Gunners are plotting a move.
It is understood that Arteta is driving the potential swoop and “dreams” of bringing Coutinho to North London.
Finally, former Arsenal forward Jeremie Aliadiere has called for Nicolas Pepe to improve several areas of his game.
He told Goal: “Now, obviously it is not easy, as I know having been there, but the thing that has disappointed me a tiny bit is his decision-making during games.”
Before he added: “Maybe with confidence, with more games, that will improve.
“But it's that sort of thing – when he switches off and seems to lack concentration – that gets to me.”
Lucas Torreira looks fighting fit as he prepares for the return of the Premier League.
The midfielder showed no signs of injury concerns as he posed for a picture topless.
Taking to Twitter, Torreira showed off his bulging muscles including his six-pack.
Alongside his three Man of the Match awards and an image of Walter White in the award-winning series Breaking Bad, he wrote the caption: “I'm back.”
HOLD THE FORT
Premier League clubs are increasingly pushing towards a June 26 restart.
We revealed how June 12 was expected to be ditched, with many also believing staging games on June 19 could be too much of a rush.
Now restarting the league on June 26 is a plan gathering momentum.
And clubs could rubber-stamp the date at a meeting on Thursday.
A senior Premier League source said: “The more you look at it, you realise we cannot start until the end of June.
“It is just too hasty to put games on any earlier.”
PORT OF CALL
Arsenal star David Luiz has admitted he wants to quit the Gunners in order to finish his career at Benfica.
The Brazilian defender, 33, made his name with the Portuguese giants before arriving at Stamford Bridge in 2011.
And he told Benfica’s official website: “I always said that I would like to end my career at Benfica.
“In football everything changes, what is true today, tomorrow is a lie, but my feeling is not.
“I love Benfica. My dream is to step on the pitch of Estadio da Luz in their colours.
“For all that I lived and felt, for what Benfica is in my life and in my history, for everything, Benfica is bigger than any player.”
Ruben Loftus-Cheek has admitted he was a huge Arsenal fan as a kid – and he idolised Thierry Henry.
The Chelsea and England midfielder, who signed a new five-year Blues deal last summer, revealed his first shirt as a kid was a Gunners one.
When interviewed about his first ever kit by the Chelsea official club website, he said: “It was actually an Arsenal kit when I was about six because I really liked Thierry Henry at the time.
“It was obviously very shortly after that I started with Chelsea at the academy.”
FERGIE MY NO1
Robin Van Persie has risked the wrath of Arsenal fans once again… by choosing “super” Sir Alex Ferguson over Arsene Wenger.
The Dutchman, 36, is hated at the Emirates after the former Gunners captain ditched North London for Old Trafford in 2012.
Writing in LVG – The Manager and The Total Person, RVP said: “Ferguson really was a super manager. It was so brilliant how he always kept the entire squad happy and focused.
“Wenger was a combination of Ferguson and Van Gaal. Arsene always emphasised all the positive things and he looked at what would work for the long term.
“Tactically he [Van Gaal] is a genius. You can’t deny that.
“I have had managers who had their own strengths. But Ferguson really was a super manager.”
IN BAD NIC
Nicolas Pepe needs to improve his concentration and be more selfless with the ball, according to former Arsenal striker Jeremie Aliadiere.
He said: “Now, obviously it is not easy, as I know having been there, but the thing that has disappointed me a tiny bit is his decision-making during games.
“For a player who cost £72m, it’s the simple parts of the game that sometimes I see him lacking. And that's what I pick on a bit.
Before he added: “Maybe with confidence, with more games, that will improve. But it’s that sort of thing – when he switches off and seems to lack concentration – that gets to me.
“That is something you can’t really have with top, top players who come for that sort of money. The easy stuff has got to be done properly.”
COUT MIK IN
The Gunners are reportedly set to open talks with Philippe Coutinho’s agent over a deal to sign the Brazilian from Barcelona.
The 27-year-old attacker has failed to shine at the Nou Camp since his move from Liverpool in 2018 and has spent the season on loan at Bayern Munich.
Chelsea have been linked with a move for months, but now Le10 Sportclaims Arsenal are positioning themselves to sign him.
They state Mikel Arteta is driving the potential swoop and “dreams” of bringing Coutinho to North London and making him a focal point of his side.
Arsenal are reportedly determined to secure a deal for Cesar Gelabert from Real Madrid.
According to AS, the Gunners 'continue to insist' on making their move for the 19-year-old.
Gelabert is under contract with Zinedine Zidane's side until 2021.
Madrid would prefer to send him out on loan next season – but Arsenal want a permanent deal.
GUNNING FOR IT
Arsenal have received renewed hope in their attempts to sign Barcelona's Ousmane Dembele.
According to Sport, Barca are willing to sell the former Dortmund winger for just £37m.
That represents a huge loss on the fee of £94m + £36m in add-ons that the Catalans paid for him in summer 2017.
Barcelona are keen to get Dembele's £200,000-a-week wages off their books due to the coronavirus crisis and will reportedly listen to offers for any of their players except Lionel Messi, Marc-Andre ter Stegen and Frenkie de Jong.
Meanwhile SunSport revealed that Nicolas Tagliafico is open to a transfer to the Emirates and is valued at £20m by Ajax.
Should the Argentine join, he would be expected to start at left-back with Bukayo Saka pushed further up the pitch.
And captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has been pictured back in training with the rest of the Arsenal squad as the Premier League's restart draws closer.
The squad were back under the tutelage of Mikel Arteta who has recovered from coronavirus after his positive test was the trigger for the season being suspended in March.
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