ARSENAL players have returned to individual training with the Premier League looking to restart on June 12.
But Gunners fans may never see Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang represent their club in the flesh again with Luka Jovic being lined up as a possible replacement.
Follow all the latest gossip and transfer news from North London below…
BUT NO MOU CONTACT
Willian also denied claims that he has been in contact with Jose Mourinho to discuss a move to Tottenham. “No, no. I did not get anything from Mourinho even though I have a good relationship with him,” he continued.
“He is not only a great coach but also a great friend of mine. Sometimes we talk but regarding this situation, he totally respects it.
“I learnt a bit from each of them [my other managers] but I identified myself more with Mourinho for sure. He trusted in my potential, liked my football, gave me full confidence to play. He is the best coach I have worked with.”
WILL I AM UP FOR MOVE
Willian has opened the door to a move to one of Chelsea’s rivals Arsenal or Tottenham.
When asked about a move to either north London club in an interview with Brazillian YouTube channel ‘Desimpedidos’, he said: “It really is a hard decision. I identified myself a lot at Chelsea, I have a lot of love for everyone at the club, and the fans.
“However, it is like I said before, if I leave Chelsea with no trouble and leaving the doors open, it would be fine to move to a rival club.”
GOOD MORNING ARSENAL FANS
Yesterday was a busy day as it emerged the Premier League faces an ENTIRE season behind closed doors and huge financial losses unless a coronavirus vaccine is created.
However, plans are still being worked on for a season restart and Prem chiefs are considering using neutral grounds across the country with matches pencilled in for June 12.
Arsenal’s Emirates, Man City’s Etihad and West Ham’s London Stadium are certain to be among the venues used if the government approve the early June date.
However, each game’s location will be kept SECRET to stop fans gathering outside amid coronavirus spread fears.
Prem clubs are said to be scrambling to buy face-masks as stars return to training ahead of the potential restart.
But after Sergio Aguero admitted players are scared on Thursday, SunSport can exclusively reveal today Harry Kane, Jordan Henderson and Mark Noble have been flooded with calls from worried players about whether it's safe for football to return.
In order to squeeze this season in, the Carabao Cup could be scrapped next year to make way for fixtures in a frantic 23-team Premier League campaign.
While Gary Neville chipped his ideas in again and suggested a radical plan to move the Prem ABROAD in order to finish this season in a coronavirus-free country.
In Arsenal transfer news, Gunners target Thomas Partey's agent deleted an Instagram post asking fans to vote for the midfielder’s next club.
It emerged Ryan Fraser is ready to snub long-term admirers Arsenal for bitter rivals Tottenham after telling pals he wants a free transfer.
The North Londoners were joined by Newcastle and AC Milan in the race for Nabil Fekir but the Real Betis ace will only quit for Real Madrid or Barcelona.
And elsewhere, Thierry Henry insisted Man Utd rival Ruud van Nistelrooy was the only one of the two “obsessed” with the Golden Boot award… as the Frenchman gave up penalties to his teammates.
And finally, defender Pablo Mari opened up on his whirlwind transfer, coronavirus lockdown and his spell at Man City.
UNDER THE RADAR
Roma are “cautiously optimistic” about their prospects of signing Henrikh Mkhitaryan on a permanent deal, according to Italian outfit Leggo.
However, the club will not be willing to pay the Armenian's asking price of £17.5m.
Therefore, they are set to be forced either to request either another season-long loan or offer Arsenal the change to sign winger Cengiz Under in exchange.
The report adds that the Gunners would then need to pay around £9m to Roma to ensure the swap goes through.
PLAYER POWER – EXCLUSIVE
Harry Kane, Jordan Henderson and Mark Noble have been inundated by calls from worried players over whether it is safe for football to return.
After Manchester City ace Sergio Aguero revealed he and many players are “scared” by amidst the coronavirus crisis, it emerged the English trio are top flight stars’ primary port of call.
PFA bosses have also received a spate of calls and messages from worried players.
Tottenham’s Kane, Liverpool’s Henderson and West Ham’s Noble, though, have emerged as figureheads for stars to contact with their concerns.
Man Utd's Treble winners and Arsenal’s Invincibles are not as great as Leicester’s 2016 miracle men, according to Jamie Carragher.
In his Telegraph column, he wrote: “Whenever that list is compiled, Leicester City’s 2016 title stands alone as the greatest achievement, certainly in the Premier League era.
“At a time when money talks at the top, and the top six have such a financial advantage over everyone else, Leicester’s win was such a shock and an anomaly I am not sure how it can be beaten.
“The achievement of Sir Alex Ferguson’s 1999 treble winners was unprecedented.
“Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal ‘Invincibles’ achieved what no club had managed since Preston North End in 1889, going unbeaten for an entire league season.
“But Leicester will remain as the greatest title winners.”
NO HOME GAMES
The Emirates, Etihad and London Stadium will be among “up to ten” neutral venues if the Government allows the Premier League to play out its season from June 12.
Prem chiefs were told during Friday’s video conference that clubs would have to give up “home” advantage – and of course that all 92 remaining matches would be behind closed doors.
It was agreed following a series of discussions and briefings that matches will be restricted to specific stadiums throughout the country – with clubs in effect sacrificing “home advantage”.
Clubs also accepted police advice that the chosen venues should, if possible, be away from congested urban areas.
But no club will be allowed to play in their own own home ground in a bid to equalise the unprecedented scenario. The clubs agreed to meet again next Friday, 24 hours after the next lockdown announcement.”
Manchester United are “not happy” with playing games behind closed doors as chief executive Ed Woodward admits he is uncertain whether the season can restart.
United chief executive Woodward revealed on a fans' forum conference call that he is not a fan of games played in front of no crowd, but fears it may be the only option.He said: “No decisions have been made yet but we think it is possible that the initial games, particularly the ones related to finishing or trying to complete this season, will probably have to be played behind closed doors.
“We're not necessarily happy about that – clearly football requires our fans in the stadium for it to be complete – but public health must come first and… this is down to the Government.
“It's important to get back to playing football and complete this season once it's safe to do so.”
“If you look at the number of my assists I gave in the game and sometimes I was in front of the goal and I squared it that would answer that question [about being obsessed].
“I would not have all those assists if I was only just thinking about the Golden Boot.”
Henry amassed 175 goals and 74 assists in 258 Prem games for Arsenal from 1997-2007 – that’s 0.68 strikes per match.
Ex-PSV Eindhoven paocher Van Nistelrooy netted 95 times and provided 13 assists in 150 Prem games for United from 2001-6 before joining Real Madrid – a match average of 0.63 goals.
VAN BOOT LOCKED
Thierry Henry insists Ruud van Nistelrooy was the only “obsessed” one in their famous, five-year Golden Boot battle – as the Arsenal legend gave up penalties to team-mates.
Van Nistelrooy‘s then-Manchester United team-mate Rio Ferdinand revealed the striker’s post-match mood often depended on whether he and/or Henry had scored.
Henry said: “It became a story between me and him because it was always him or me [for the Golden Boot].
“But I don’t know if you remember I used to give penalties away… I used to give penalties away!
“When Edu played his last game for Arsenal and I was battling with Ruud van Nistelrooy for the Golden Boot I gave him the penalty…
AUBA AND OUT
Arsenal are prepared to let Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Matteo Guendouzi leave to free up funds for other players, reports the Mirror.
The story adds that Valencia midfielder Carlos Soler is among Mikel Arteta's top transfer targets.
Soler signed a new deal with a £140m release clause, but the Gunners have not been deterred in their pursuit of the Spanish youngster and it remains to be seen whether the asking price would end up being anything like that high.
Manchester United flop Alexis Sanchez shows he’s not letting the doubts about his future get him down with a Rocky Balboa-inspired training session during lockdown.
The ex-Arsenal man is said to be one of a number of players Ole Gunnar Sokskjaer is trying to offload, filmed himself doing sprints in his spacious back garden to music from the Rocky IV soundtrack.
NAB HIM WHILE YOU CAN
ARSENAL have been joined by Newcastle and AC Milan in the race for Real Betis star Nabil Fekir, according to reports.
But the Premier League duo may have trouble convincing him to make the move to England as he will reportedly only quit for Real Madrid or Barcelona.
The Frenchman has enjoyed a fine season since leaving Lyon for LaLiga in a £17.7million deal last summer.
And the 26-year-old is keen to stay where he is despite the interest from overseas, according to Spanish outlet Marca.
Having scored seven goals in 22 league games this season, the attacking midfielder is said to be a target for the Gunners and now the Toon and AC Milan.
But he is happy where he is and will only consider a move if Real or Barca come knocking as he likes the style of football played in LaLiga.
MAR LIKE IT
Arsenal defender Pablo Mari has opened up on his whirlwind transfer to the Emirates as well as the coronavirus lockdown.
The Spaniatd had featured just once in the Premier League and in the FA Cup before coronavirus KO'd English football indefinitely.
Mari told the Gunners' website: “At first, part of you thinks, ‘Jeez,’ I finally got here, then had to leave again after two days to finish negotiating the contract, came back, it was hard to get going,
“I hadn’t done pre-season while everyone had been competing seven months. Bit by bit you get through the days, the weeks, and the moment you say ‘I’m ready, I can compete’, this happens.
“The first thought was, ‘Damn, I wanted to keep playing.’ But this is no small thing, it’s not a cold or flu.
“When you see its magnitude, professional questions are secondary. What matters is everyone’s health.”
PREMIER LEAGUE UPDATE
Prem games will be staged behind closed doors at neutral stadiums across the country if the Government gives football the green light to return.
The latest video conference meeting of the 20 “shareholder” clubs lasted some three and a half hours as they debated a range of issues.
Clubs remain determined to finish the season is possible – as long as there is government approval.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has signalled the national lockdown will only be eased in stages and not before next Thursday.
Clubs are hoping to begin some form of formal training from May 18, with a target for the return of games to resume the season on June 12.
The clubs have agreed with police advice that the chosen venues should, if possible, be away from congested urban areas.
West Ham’s London Stadium, Arsenal’s Emirates and the Etihad home of Manchester City look certain to be among the final venues chosen.
But no club will be allowed to play in their own own home ground in a bid to equalise the unprecedented scenario.
All 20 teams in Italy's Serie A have voted to finish the 2019/20 season in full.
An emergency meeting was held today amid reports that Torino and Brescia wanted the campaign to be axed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
But it has now been revealed that every team in the league shares the belief that the season should be completed.
The top flight has been suspended since March, but players are preparing to return to training on May 18.
Italian sports minister Vincenzo Spadafora has warned this does not necessarily mean the season will resume.
He has also confirmed the league could axed unless an agreement is reached over the medical protocols that will be in place.
IN THE RED
Barcelona may be left with no choice but to play Philippe Coutinho next season – potentially bagging Liverpool £17million.
When the LaLiga giants paid £105m for the Brazilian in 2017, they agreed to £35m worth of add-on-clauses – most of which are yet to be met.
By far and away the biggest add-on remaining, according to Marca, is the £17m Barcelona will have to hand over when Coutinho reaches 100 games for the club.
Currently, he stands at 76 appearances from his 18 months at the Camp Nou.
But Barcelona were left underwhelmed by Coutinho, 27, and sent him on loan to Bayern Munich for the 2019/20 campaign.
Reports suggest Barcelona's preferred route is selling Coutinho with Chelsea, Arsenal and Tottenham rumoured to be tracking the situation amid a potential longshot bid from Newcastle.
Gary Neville has suggested finishing the Premier League season abroad in a coronavirus-free country.
The English top-flight faces an entire season being played behind closed doors unless a vaccine is created.
Speaking on The Football Show, he said: “If the Premier League are really serious about delivering the matches that remain in a safe environment they would move it to two or three spots that are within three or four hours of this country that are coronavirus free.
“They would take the Premier League players, broadcasters and media over, quarantine for a week or two and then deliver it in an environment that has proven it can handle this virus.
“There are a couple of hotspots in Europe that haven't got coronavirus which could handle the Premier League finishing.
“If they were serious about it and wanted to deliver it with a safe outcome, they could do that.
“In this country I'm not sure they can deliver it with the amount of coronavirus which is around, especially with the amount of movement of it out there and the logistic issues.
“I'm not sure they can deliver what they want to do.”
WAT ON EARTH?
Just two days after Watford announced the signing of Pape Gueye, the player's agent has made the extraordinary claim that “nothing is fixed” and that his client could still join another club.
The Hornets believe that they are signing the French youth international on a five-year contract upon the expiry of his contract at Le Havre on June 30.
Nigel Pearson's side agreed a pre-contract arrangement with the 21-year-old in January, as you are allowed to when a player in France reaches the final six months of their contract.
But the player's agent Pierre-Henri Bovis has told The Athletic: “Nothing is fixed.
“We have a ‘so-called’ contract from January. Now we are trying to resolve possible issues. The circumstances are very strange.
“The communication of Watford doesn’t change anything for us.”
Thomas Partey's representatives have had to apologise after a bizarre Instagram post appeared to ask fans to select the Ghanaian's next club.
JJ Sports Management, who represent the Atletico Madrid midfielder, posted a picture of him above the line: “Pick his club”.
Beneath, five badges were featured – including Arsenal's, Man Utd's, as well Bayern Munich's, Paris Saint-Germain's and Juventus'.
Having swiftly deleted the post, the agency were forced to offer a grovelling apology.
Their statement read: “In view of the publication that was made today Wednesday 29 April 2020 on our Instagram account, regarding the future of our player Thomas Partey, from JJ Sport Managers we want to convey that this publication was not approved by the company management.
“An internal investigation has been opened to find out what exactly happened, we are sure that this has not been intentional on the part of any of our workers and it is probably an unfortunate mistake.
“The publication has been deleted as soon as we have become aware of its existence.
“In addition, the keys of all our social profiles have been modified to restrict access only to essential personnel.”
What a performance this was from Alexis Sanchez against West Ham.
Premier League clubs are scrambling to buy face masks as stars return to training ahead of the proposed June 8 season-restart.
Top-flight stars have been ordered to cover their faces when they get back to work, with Arsenal and Tottenham already in training.
It is all part of the rules laid out in “Project Restart” with clubs determined to finish the season rather than cancel it, like France, Belgium and Holland.
And with all clubs keen to get a head-start on the competition, they've raced to purchase face masks for their players and staff.
Altitude Mask founder – and football agent – Saif Rubie told Sky Sports News: “In the last three days we have been inundated with requests, mainly from the Bundesliga and the Premier League.
“Our product has been sent out to six or seven Premier League clubs in the last couple of days.”
An alternative Premier League table has Arsenal finishing TWELFTH while Manchester United miss out on a top-four spot.
The Mail, working with Opta Sports using a method devised by L’Equipe for Ligue 1, have predicted how the final Premier League table will look if the season does not resume amid the coronavirus crisis.
Liverpool are clear winners with a record 109 points and a goal difference of 90, that’s a whole 30 points ahead of Man City, who themselves finish just two points above Leicester.
Chelsea nab the fourth Champions League spot ahead of Man Utd, who finish one point above both Wolves and Sheffield United.
Spurs take up eighth, with Crystal Palace and Burnley making up the rest of the top ten.
Surprisingly, Newcastle finish 11th and are two points ABOVE Arsenal, who end levy with Southampton.
Arsenal have reportedly been joined by rivals Tottenham in the race to snap up Bournemouth winger Ryan Fraser on a free contract.
It had been believed that the Gunners were in pole position to sign the Scottish international, but Spurs are now in contention.
According to Football Insider, Fraser has told friends that he would like to play for Jose Mourinho's side.
They state that he desires to play in the Champions League, with Spurs seen as a more attractive option.
DOOR FIRMLY SHUT
The Premier League faces an ENTIRE season being played behind closed doors and huge financial losses unless a vaccine for coronavirus is created.
Sporting authorities are considering playing all football in England's top-four leagues in front of empty stadiums until May 2021.
Senior officials hope to reopen grounds in December, but everything on depends on Prime Minister Boris Johnson's decision over mass gatherings.
Should Johnson take a tough approach to events such as football matches, music festivals and concerts, it is unlikely they can go ahead without a vaccine available.
The secretary general of Fifpro – the international footballers’ union – Jonas Baer-Hoffman, said: “In terms of fans being back inside stadiums that might likely not be possible until people are vaccinated.
“So it may well be that we play a full season without spectators.”
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