Paris Saint-Germain are said to be attempting to negotiate a deal with Arsenal’s Hector Bellerin, despite recent reports claiming the Spaniard is keen on staying in north London under Mikel Arteta’s tutelage.
Bellerin had started five of his side’s last six Premier League games after his return from a hamstring injury in January, but there have been plenty of claims of the 25-year-old potentially seeking a way out of north London for a ‘more ambitious club’.
Spanish news outlet Todo Fichajes, meanwhile, believe PSG are ‘in negotiations’ with the Gunners for the right-back, as they go in search of finding a replacement for free agent Thomas Meunier.
Although Bellerin’s potential sale would bring in a hefty sum that Arsenal could reinvest, the player is understood to be ‘fully invested’ in the Arteta project at the club, understanding his vision for the Gunners’ future.
Amid the current period of uncertainty, Bellerin has continued to act as the club’s Professional Footballers’ Association delegate, while also working closely with the Gunners hierarchy to find a solution to the pay-cut saga.
Despite a frustrating 18 or so months for Bellerin – which saw him miss almost a year of action with an ACL rupture – the Spaniard seems keen on evolving into Arteta’s long-term right-back option in north London.
And following Ainsley Maitland-Niles’ reported ‘falling out’ with the Arsenal boss, it appears Bellerin will have a key role to play when the Premier League returns later this month.
The 22-year-old had filled in ably in a relatively unfamiliar role during Bellerin’s absence, often impressing during the early days of the Spaniard’s reign.
A poor attitude in training, however, saw him ‘frozen out’ of Arteta’s first-team plans before the break, and it remains to be seen whether the Englishman has won over his manager ahead the top flight’s return.
Arsenal’s interest in Feyenoord teenager Orkun Kokcu has been described as ‘very serious’, with the Gunners expected to make a formal offer for his services very soon.
Kokcu was a regular for Feyenoord before play was halted due to the coronavirus. The midfielder, who is capable with both feet and already has an excellent understanding of the game, started 21 of his side’s 26 games in the Eredivisie, chipping in with two goals and four assists in that time.
The 19-year-old’s performances haven’t gone unnoticed, with a number of top European clubs showing an interest in him. Arsenal are one of those clubs, with Feyenoord boss Dick Advocaat confirming that there is interest in him, but no formal offer had yet been received.
Martijn Krabbendam of Voetbal (via Football Oranje) has now reported that Arsenal have been working on a deal for ‘a long time’ and, as a result, an official transfer offer is set to be made. However, Kokcu is continuing to attract attention from elsewhere.
Krabbendam said: “It’s very serious. They have been working on it for a long time. This also applies to Sevilla, who are very interested. The transfer is slowly being prepared and then the offer must eventually come.
“That is not this week, but I expect Arsenal to come up with something, otherwise they would have done all that work for nothing.“
Krabbendam went on to suggest that the sale of Kokcu could be beneficial for Feyenoord, leading him to believe that the Rotterdam club’s director is open to selling him. He continued: “He [Feyenoord director Frank Arnesen] can use the money in the composition of the new selection and thereby restore order.”
It has previously been said that Arsenal are willing to spend between €20m and €30m as they look to win the race for the talented teenager’s signature.
READ MORE: 6 Things to Know About Arsenal Target Orkun Kokcu
The Premier League’s current legendary goalscorers all started somewhere and at one point or another were looking for that next milestone goal, whether it be 50, 70, 100, 150…
Among the players of today, several will end up all-time legends in their own right in due course, with Sergio Aguero close to becoming only the third player in Premier League history to reach 200 goals.
Here’s a projection of how many goals 10 of the Premier League’s best current forwards will end up with by the time their careers in the English top flight are at an end.
There is plenty of uncertainty surrounding the Arsenal future of club captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who is only under contract in north London for one more year.
90min has previously reported that Arsenal, a club who have struggled with the final impact of coronavirus, could sell Aubameyang. The Gunners have negotiated a pay cut with the squad and senior official Josh Kroenke has previously warned against the problem of having a squad on Champions League wages funded by a Europa League budget.
Even if there is no market for Aubameyang this summer as a result of coronavirus obliterating the buying power of clubs across Europe, the Gabon star may not be around much longer.
Aubameyang scored 22 goals in his only full Premier League season so far, following on from 10 in 13 games when he first arrived. Another 17 in 26 so far in 2019/20 is equally impressive, but his final tally will stay relatively low because his stay is likely to be brief.
Current PL Goal Tally: 49
Projected Final PL Goal Tally: 54
A projected final Premier League tally of 54 is only five more than Aubameyang has now.
If Manchester City lose their fight against a UEFA ruling to ban them from the Champions League for two seasons, it puts Raheem Sterling in a difficult position. At 25, if he wants to spend his peak years somewhere he has a chance of winning it, he would have to leave City in order to do it.
There are links with Manchester United that have emerged just this month, but if Sterling goes anywhere it is highly probable to be somewhere overseas.
If City do lose their appeal, it could mean Sterling leaving quite suddenly ahead of next season. Of course, there has to be a willing buyer with the funds to make it happen, and those could be even scarcer in the current climate.
If Sterling doesn’t leave City this year to ensure he is playing Champions League football, the chances of him leaving at all suddenly drop dramatically because half the ban would already be elapsed.
Sterling has only found his feet in front of goal since 2017 and has actually had a down year by his own new standards in 2019/20. If he leaves English football sooner rather than later, perhaps returning in his thirties, it is feasible he might not add too many more goals to his tally.
Current PL Goal Tally: 77
Projected Final PL Goal Tally: 115
Robbie Fowler is the youngest player to reach 100 Premier League goals at 23 years and 282 days.
Predicting when Mohamed Salah might leave Liverpool is not easy. The Egyptian has been a key part of the club’s growing success over the last few seasons and is arguably the most expendable member of the Reds’ existing front three.
That being said, it has been well established that Liverpool have no intention of breaking up that trio, while there may not be much of a selling market for a 30-year-old Salah in 2022.
At some point in the not too distant future the Reds will have to start moving on and begin the process of rebuilding for the next cycle.
Salah is under contract at Anfield until 2023 and perhaps with a shorter-term extension in the intervening years to protect his value could be allowed to leave in 2022.
If that proves to be the case, there would likely be no end of suitors willing to take him, but it wouldn’t be a blockbuster deal because of the lack of clubs prepared to spend big on players with minimal long-term potential in the post-Neymar transfer market.
Salah will easily break 100 Premier League goals if he continues his current scoring rate for the next two years. The question will be by how much because in 2019/20 he’s on course to fall just shy of his 2018/19 tally, which in turn was less than his 2017/18 return.
Current PL Goal Tally: 72
Projected Final PL Goal Tally: 115
The only African player to break the 100-goal barrier in Premier League history is Didier Drogba.
For someone who hadn’t played league football before the age of 25 or top flight football until he was 27, it is remarkable that Jamie Vardy is only a single goal shy of a Premier League century.
Leading the Golden Boot race this season, the 33-year-old will almost certainly reach the 100-goal milestone when the 2019/20 resumes. Then it will be a case of how much longer he can continue playing at this level and maintain a good output.
Vardy suggested in 2016 that his late arrival to the professional game might help him extend his career and it is easy to imagine he could remain a Leicester player until the end of his current contract in 2022 and perhaps a short extension on top of that to 2023, by when he’ll be 36.
Before coronavirus, Vardy was on course to eclipse his most prolific Premier League campaign to date. He could still do that by reaching 25, despite the lengthy break in play, and it is easy to imagine decreasing tallies could follow in the next two years.
Current PL Goal Tally: 99
Projected Final PL Goal Tally: 125
125 Premier League goals would put Vardy level with Nicolas Anelka.
Anthony Martial is on the cusp of becoming a potentially very good goalscorer and has reaped the rewards of a noticeable shift in his mentality this season. He is also benefitting from being the main man at Manchester United for the first time since he was a teenager in 2015/16.
Fitness and consistency still hold Martial back occasionally, although it is easy to forget that he is still only 24. His improvement this campaign has therefore come at the right time as he prepares to enter his peak years next season and beyond.
The Frenchman has averaged a goal almost every other game in the Premier League this season, so 15 each campaign shouldn’t be beyond him. He also appears to have won over manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and so is unlikely to be shipped out before he is 30.
If he signs one more long-term deal in the next couple of years to extend his contract beyond its current expiry in 2024, it is plausible to think United would accept an offer for Martial around 2026, giving him six more years to score goals in the Premier League.
Current PL Goal Tally: 45
Projected Final PL Goal Tally: 135
As things stand, only Wayne Rooney has more than 135 Premier League goals in United colours.
If Liverpool could be tempted into letting Mohamed Salah go within a couple of years, one player they surely won’t want to part company with is Sadio Mane.
The Senegalese winger is arguably a more important player, along with Roberto Firmino, in Liverpool’s system than his fellow African. However, the lure of a club like Real Madrid or Barcelona, should either be able to afford it, might be hard to resist as a once in a lifetime chance.
Financially, the likelihood is slim and it is possible to envisage Mane lining up for Liverpool into his early thirties, which means more opportunity to add to his existing Premier League goal tally.
With 80 to his name already, Mane could reach 100 by the end of 2020/21. Averaging between 15 and 20 at a similar scoring rate to the last 18 months could see him get to 140, on the lower end of the estimate, by the end of 2023/24.
Current PL Goal Tally: 80
Projected Final PL Goal Tally: 140
Mane could join the likes of Michael Owen (150) and Robbie Fowler (163).
Tammy Abraham has proved his worth in his debut Premier League season with Chelsea by scoring 13 times in 25 appearances. No doubt the young Englishman has thrived thanks to a lack of other options, but he has at least taken the opportunity that came his way.
Only time will tell if he can replicate that longer term.
Abraham is far from a bad player and could conceivably have a long Premier League career that lasts another 10 years. Whether all that time is at Stamford Bridge is another question as he could so easily find himself with much tougher competition within the next two or three years.
Current PL Goal Tally: 18
Projected Final PL Goal Tally: 150
Age could be what ultimately helps Abraham get among the top Premier League goalscorers of all time, with 150 more than both Teddy Sheringham (146) and Robin van Persie (144).
Marcus Rashford has still been finding his way until this season when, at 22, he appears to have settled on his best position – operating wide from the left.
His goal return has improved year on year since breaking into the Manchester United first-team in 2016, to the point where 2019/20 has been the most prolific of his fledgling career so far.
Those yearly increases actually make it quite difficult to project what his output will be in the future as theoretically there is not yet a discernible ceiling on his numbers. He could continue to hit 14 Premier League goals per season, or keep increasing it until he hits 20, 25 or even 30.
Despite reportedly flirting with Barcelona last season, Rashford now appears more committed to United than ever and is fast emerging as the centrepiece of the rebuild.
If he lasts another 10 seasons at Old Trafford and matches an average of the 14 Premier League goals he got in little more than the first half of 2019/20, Rashford would reach 181 – and that would be a distinctly conservative estimate.
Current PL Goal Tally: 41
Projected Final PL Goal Tally: 185
If Rashford plays abroad during his career it would obviously impact his numbers in English football. If he doesn’t and spends his whole career in the Premier League the sky is the limit.
Sergio Aguero has one more year left on his Manchester City contract and will be 34 by the time that deal expires. He is already City’s all-time leading goalscorer and arguably greatest ever player and has long been tipped to play for boyhood club Independiente before he retires.
The timing of a 2021 departure, which would mark a full decade in Manchester, in order to head back to Argentina just seems right.
In eight full previous seasons as a Premier League player, Aguero has averaged 20.5 goals per season, a supremely impressive level of consistency. Even into his thirties, he has shown little sign of slowing down and had 16 in 22 to his name before 2019/20 was halted.
Current PL Goal Tally: 180
Project Final PL Goal Tally: 205
By the end of next season it is feasible that Aguero has 205 Premier League goals to his name, third behind only Alan Shearer (260) and Wayne Rooney (208) in the all-time list.
Harry Kane has long been tipped to surpass Alan Shearer’s all-time Premier League goal record of 260. The Tottenham talisman will be 27 next month and is just over halfway there.
The problem is that he’s suffered badly with injuries in three of the last four seasons and is now way short of his 2017/18 peak when he plundered 30 in the Premier League.
Kane may grow frustrated if Spurs continue to fall away from the upper echelons of English and European football, but with a contract until 2024 his club holds all the cards. A move before 2023 seems unlikely because no buyer will pay what Spurs will ask for.
Given his recent injury track record as it stands, it is difficult to imagine Kane will hit his existing 24.4 goals per season Premier League average, certainly with any degree of consistency.
He could be pushing 200 goals by the time 2022/23 finishes and he closes in on his 30th birthday. Then, whether he has any chance of breaking the record would be determined by whether he heads abroad or stays in England.
Current PL Goal Tally: 136
Projected Final PL Goal Tally: 240
If he stays in England, Kane will get close to Shearer’s landmark. But he may not break it.
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The extraordinary motivation required to come back just months after celebrating what for many would be considered an absolute career pinnacle and do it all over again, and the fine art of not disrupting a squad of winners while simultaneously needing to inject a freshness to ensure things don’t go stale is so rare.
That’s just defending a league title once.
Between 2003 and 2012, Arsenal Women defended their league title eight years on the trot.
The Gunners were crowned top flight champions for nine successive seasons, which is an astonishing achievement in itself. But what is most remarkable is the fact that in that time they barely missed a step.
Arsenal didn’t manage just one Invincibles season. They went years unbeaten.
Between 2003 and 2009, Arsenal went 108 games undefeated. Between December 2006 and May 2008, they won 51 consecutive matches. The Gunners weren’t just winning league titles; they were completely flawless.
Arsenal’s dominance was not restricted to domestic competitions either. Their crowning glory came during the 2006/07 season, as they beat Swedish outfit Umea IK 1-0 over two legs – despite missing the great Kelly Smith through suspension – to become the first British side to win the Women’s Champions League.
The Gunners had not been troubled domestically, but were able to switch from rarely being challenged at the weekend in the top flight to the intensity of competing with the very best in Europe. That season, Arsenal won every single trophy on offer. How could a side possibly remain motivated to go again after achieving such unprecedented success?
The following campaign, they won the league and FA Cup double. Their standards never wavered.
It was Everton who ended Arsenal’s winning run in 2008 followed by their unbeaten run a year later at Boreham Wood with a comprehensive 3-0 victory. After six years, the mask had slipped.
The club had lost Anita Asante and Leanne Sanderson to rivals Chelsea at the start of the season, and were dealt a further blow midway through the campaign, with Alex Scott, Karen Carney and Kelly Smith all tempted to the States following the formation of the Women’s Professional Soccer league – opportunities that were just not afforded to players in the UK at the time.
Were the tides finally turning?
Everton and Arsenal faced each other on the final day of the 2008/09 season, with the Toffees requiring just a draw to bring an end to the Gunners’ unprecedented reign of dominance.
But Arsenal were would run out winners. And between December 2006 and May 2008 they literally did nothing else.
The Gunners snuck a 1-0 victory to claim their sixth successive Women’s Premier League title. Arsenal had never been a team to shy away from the big occasion, but this was a side to this Vic Akers’ Arsenal team that supporters had rarely had to see for the previous six years: an ability to dig their heels in and grind out the result in the face of adversity.
They had been used to having everything their own way for years, but here they demonstrated their resilience – losing five key players and their unbeaten record – to still come out on top. They were quite simply a team incapable of finishing second.
Success continued even when long-term boss Vic Akers departed in 2009, as Arsenal won a further three league titles under new manager Laura Harvey.
This epitomised what made these Arsenal sides so remarkable. They could adapt to any change that was thrown at them. When seemingly irreplaceable players left for pastures new, they just got on with it.
Akers’ had been in charge since 1987. The potential magnitude of his departure could have been comparable to Sir Alex Ferguson’s 2013 retirement.
When the man responsible for the club’s very existence and all the success that had come with it called time on his managerial career, the team would have been forgiven for suffering a lull.
But they didn’t. They just carried on winning. Because that was all they knew.
Arsenal have not offered forward Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang a new deal, contrary to reports that a contract extension had been tabled.
The Gabon international is the club’s record signing, having joined from Borussia Dortmund for £56m in 2017.
However, Aubameyang’s deal expires in 2021, leaving this summer as the potential final opportunity for the club to cash in on the player.
French news outlet L’Equipe [via the Daily Mail], had reported earlier on Monday that Arsenal had offered Aubameyang a new deal in order to tie down last season’s top scorer and fend off interest from the likes of PSG.
However, according to ESPN journalist Julien Laurens, Arsenal have not offered the 30-year-old a new contract.
90min revealed in April that Arsenal had no plans to offer Aubameyang a fresh deal, and were prepared to cash in on him in the summer in order to avoid him leaving on a free – as Aaron Ramsey did last summer, moving to Juventus at the end of his contract.
The Gunners captain was expected to seek a pay rise as part of a new deal, but with the ongoing financial uncertainty as a result of the coronavirus outbreak, offering bumper new contracts is not something the club are prepared to do.
Arsenal have already begun compensating for the financial impact of coronavirus, with staff and players agreeing to take a 12.5% wage deduction in April.
Aubameyang has more than lived up to his price tag since arriving in north London, hitting 61 goals in just 97 games for the club over the last two and a half seasons.
His 22 goals in the Premier League last season saw him tie for the Golden Boot, alongside Mo Salah and Sadio Mané.
Paris Saint-Germain have reportedly been keeping tabs on the forward, as have Chelsea and Inter. All of those clubs should be able to offer Aubameyang Champions League football, which he has so far been starved of since his move to the Gunners.