Barcelona Officials ‘Joking’ About Selling Ousmane Dembélé Amid Interest from Liverpool & Arsenal

French international ​Ousmane Dembélé looks set to depart Barcelona imminently, with Liverpool a possible destination for the winger.

Having arrived from Borussia Dortmund in 2017 for a mouth-watering initial fee of €105m, the 22-year-old has not played as well as the Blaugrana had hoped, with hamstring issues preventing him from playing regularly at Camp Nou.

As a result, Barça has been keen to offload the talented attacker, with many European clubs including Liverpool and Arsenal retaining an interest in signing him.

Ousmane Dembele

And Spanish publication AS (via ​Sport Witness) claim that executives at the Spanish club have even ‘joked’ about selling Dembélé. The paper reported that an anonymous club official has recently jokingly asked a club doctor when the French international would be fit again, so that he could be waved in front of potential buyers as soon as possible.

The attacker is estimated to be available for a fee of €80m, and the Reds should be able to get a deal done if they are still looking to sign him, with the Catalans clearly happy to swiftly get him off their books.

Dembélé is said to be keen on a move to the Premier League, which will give the Merseyside club an advantage in securing his signature over other suitors.

He made his senior debut at Rennes in November 2015, before securing a move to Dortmund in the following summer. But he only stayed for one year at Die Schwarzgelben before the Blaugrana came calling and edged out other clubs to sign him.

Ousmane Dembele,Nestor Araujo

Those at Camp Nou are now focusing on bringing in a star forward, with signing Inter’s Lautaro Martínez and ​bringing back Neymar from Paris Saint-Germain said to be the main priority for Barça this summer.

And with Liverpool looking to add attacking depth behind the likes of Sadio Mané and Mohamed Salah, signing Dembélé could be a step towards evolving their bench options. 

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Picking a Best German XI of the Premier League Era

No, Shkodran Mustafi does not feature. Apologies to those eager for a laugh or two, but this one is actually going to be a decent lineup.

And you’d expect that. The Germans have a reputation for being rather good at football, as you’re about to find out below.

It’s what we love about the ​Premier League. How many darn fine players it has in its ranks. Boasting a division of such quality and excitement predominately stems from the vast array of worldwide talent it’s able to attract, so it will come as little surprise that plenty of those stars who graced the league hail from Germany.

Here are 11 of them. 


​GK – Jens Lehmann

Jens Lehmann

Forever adored by ​Arsenal fans for being one of the famed ‘Invincibles’, the goalkeeper would go on to make 147 top flight appearances for the club over a five-season spell.

He played every Premier League game for the Gunners in two different seasons during his stint in north London, with one league title and one FA Cup to boast from his impressive spell in the English game. 

A fine stop stopper as well as a leader in the dressing room, there are no other candidates capable of filling this slot. Sorry Loris Karius.


RB – Markus Babbel

Markus Babbel

Much more could have been expected from Markus Babbel during his time at ​Liverpool had he not unfortunately seen his career come to a sudden halt when he contracted Guillain–Barré syndrome. He was forced out of the game for a year, but still managed to earn a reputation as a marauding full-back with an eye for goal.

He claimed an FA Cup, League Cup, UEFA Super Cup and UEFA Cup during a trophy filled 2000/01 season – that latter of which he contributed a goal in during the final victory over Alaves. He would also enjoy a fruitful season-long spell at Blackburn Rovers.


CB – Robert Huth

Leicester City v Manchester United - Premier League

Nobody saw it coming. ​Leicester simply weren’t supposed to win the Premier League that season. It defied logic and belief, and reset the parameters for what is actually achievable in football.

Either way, they did it, and they wouldn’t have been able to do so without their monstrous centre-half. He may have only played a bit part role during his two league triumphs with Chelsea, but Huth was an ever present for the Foxes as they did the unthinkable in 2015/16. That aside though, he was a formidable opponent, and will go down as one of the best from his country to grace the division.


CB – Antonio Rüdiger

Antonio Rudiger

He hasn’t been playing in England for long, but Antonio Rüdiger has already cemented his place as ​Chelsea’s finest central defender. Falling under the category of ‘don’t mess with me I’ll batter ya’, he’s a firm fan favourite in west London.

Furthermore, records were pummelled in 2019 when he completed 100% of his 91 passes over the course of a match against Wolves, which is more than anyone has achieved before or since.


LB – Christian Ziege

Christian Ziege

Scoring seven goals from defence in his first season in the Premier League with Middlesbrough, a move to Liverpool followed for Christian Ziege – but he never managed to replicate the form he’d shown on Teeside.

​Tottenham duly snapped him up and he found a decent level once more, but the following two campaigns in London saw his credibility wane. Nevertheless, he had two OK seasons in the league so that essentially hands him a place in this team. About as good as it gets really. Slim pickings and that.


CM – Dietmar Hamann

Dietmar Hamann

It is Dietmar Hamann’s superb seven seasons on Merseyside that grant him a place in this lineup, as the combative midfielder secured four domestic trophies, one UEFA Cup and a ​Champions League haul during a prolific spell with Liverpool.

Spells at Newcastle and Manchester City didn’t produce similar levels of success, but Hamann’s defensive stability meant he was always added protection for the defence and a worthy addition to the side.


CM – Michael Ballack

Chelsea's German midfielder Michael Ball

Upon completion of his deal at Bayern Munich, Chelsea were the fortunate beneficiaries of the midfield talent that had glittered the Bundesliga for a number of years.

For a player in his position, he was widely regarded as one of the most complete midfielders of his generation. Intelligence on the ball was matched by fine shooting ability with either foot, and he played a key role in the club’s march to the 2010 Premier League title.


CAM – Mesut Özil

FBL-ENG-PR-ARSENAL-BOURNEMOUTH

Given the current state of affairs, it’s easy to forget just how technically masterful ​Mesut Özil was in his prime. While his numbers have dropped drastically over recent seasons, the playmaker will still be lauded as one of the best creative midfielders the league has seen – when he was at his peak.

The 2015/16 season alone is worthy of his inclusion, where he bagged six goals and registered 19 assists for ​Arsenal. Sure, no league trophies have come his way, but the elegance he had on the ball when he was fit and firing was first class.


RF – Jürgen Klinsmann

Jürgen Klinsmann

Few players manage to make quite the impact Jürgen Klinsmann had during his first stint with Tottenham during the 1994/95 season, where he scooped the club’s Player of the Season award along with further Football Writers’ Association Footballer of the Year and Premier LeaguePFA Team of the Year gongs.

He scored 20 league goals that term before moving on to Bayern Munich, before eventually returning for one final stint in the 1997/98 season, when he helped guide Spurs away from relegation and into a 14th place finish. That season, he also secured another Football Writers’ Association Footballer of the Year award.


ST – Uwe Rösler 

MAN C V MAN U

Best known for his four-year spell with ​Manchester City shortly after the Premier League was formed, Rösler’s fine displays for the club would eventually earn him a place in the Citizens’ Hall of Fame in 2009.

His most prolific campaign in front of goal would be the 1994/95 term, were a formidable partnership with Paul Walsh was forged. He hit 22 goals across all competitions despite a string of injuries, and remains a loved figure in the blue half of Manchester.


LF – Leroy Sane

leroy sané

Lightening pace and lethal end product mean there is little the German can’t do, which is why it’s a shame the Premier League has been deprived of him this season as a result of his horrific knee injury.

He contributed 45 goal involvements between the 2017/18 and 2018/20 title winning seasons, playing a pivotal role in Pep Guardiola’s setup as they broke records en route to back-to-back league crowns.


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Signing Chris Smalling Is Not the Solution to Arsenal’s Defensive Problems

Throughout their history, ​Arsenal have had many great centre backs. The likes of Tony Adams and Martin Keown are revered by fans as club legends, for their fearless defending and ability to command the Gunners backline, shutting down the best attackers in the world.

Those memories seem a very long time ago, however. The Gunners are in dire need of a new centre back who can take charge of his fellow defenders and ensure they can compliment their lethal attack with a formidable defence.

And Corriere dello Sport are of the belief the north London club have settled on their first-choice target, ​having made an enquiry for Manchester United’s Chris Smalling, who is currently on loan at Serie A outfit AS Roma.

Chris Smalling, Roman Bezus

Arsenal haven’t improved on their calamitous defending as drastically as fans had hoped. David Luiz has made enough mistakes to underline why Chelsea were happy to part ways with the Brazilian. 

His current partner Shkodran Mustafi is somehow still at the club, despite being an unpopular figure among fans.

With that being said, a new signing at the back makes sense and would be a good move for the club. Yet entrusting the defence to Smalling would not be a smart choice, as it’s hard to see how he could transform Arsenal’s current group of defenders – even if he is currently in career-best form and has become ​one of Serie A’s top centre backs.

Chris Smalling,Robin Gosens

Smalling is registering an 89 percent pass completion rate for this season. Yet that statistic doesn’t tell the complete story, for Roma manager Paulo Fonseca does not ask him to play out from the back. 

Rather, it’s partner Gianluca Mancini who is often found with the ball, which is usually given to him by his teammate Smalling to distribute.

And Smalling wouldn’t be an upgrade on ​Luiz if the north London club are looking for a ball-playing defender. For all of the Brazilian’s faults, he’s far more accomplished and composed on the ball than the England international.

David Luiz

With that being said, perhaps Arsenal sign him anyway, for his strong physical abilities and defensive presence. The question then becomes – would his addition really work out for the Gunners?

At Roma, Smalling is often protected by a combination of defensive midfielders, whose strong discipline ensure he isn’t left isolated to deal with any attacking threat. Even at United, there were the likes of Michael Carrick and Marouane Fellaini who held the fort for the Red Devils and made it easier for their defenders.

This wouldn’t be the case at ​Arsenal. Granit Xhaka has shown he can’t be trusted to protect his defenders and manager Mikel Arteta appears unwilling to give Matteo Guendouzi as many opportunities as he had under previous boss Unai Emery.

Granit Xhaka, Allan Saint-Maximin

Moreover, full backs Bukayo Saka and Héctor Bellerín are regularly asked by their manager to support their midfield and provide overlaps to send in crosses for the waiting strikers. It often leaves the centre backs with the almighty task of stopping any counter-attack that results from an interception or misplaced pass.

It’s hard to say with any certainty that Smalling would help Luiz and Xhaka in halting any speedy attack made by their opponents. The 30-year-old isn’t the quickest of centre backs and has also at times made questionable choices when faced with strikers bearing down on his goal. It’s simply too much to expect him to be the saviour of Arsenal’s defence whenever a swarm of attackers are running towards him at pace.

Therefore, it feels as if Arsenal’s defensive woes would remain the same, even with his addition to their backline.

Smalling is clearly a defender who thrives on confidence. Currently in stellar form for I Giallorossi, he has grown in poise with the adoration Roma fans are currently showering him with for his strong displays.

Chris Smalling

At the Emirates, it would be a different story. Supporters would expect him to come in and deliver in improving their defence. One errant pass or poor decision could make him the target of Arsenal fans’ blame for another defeat. Make another, and suddenly there will be calls for him to be benched and maybe even sold. You can imagine the likes of DT and Troopz laying into him on AFTV, similar to their treatment of Mustafi.

​​What Arsenal need is a defender willing to back themselves, even when the majority of supporters have turned against him. Smalling simply isn’t that kind of player.

The Gunners cannot afford to make the wrong choice here. While Arteta should definitely look at buying a new centre back, signing Smalling wouldn’t be the solution. It’s the right idea, but wrong player for the job.

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Mikel Arteta Gives Update on Training Aims & Admits He’s Given Arsenal Squad Homework

Mikel Arteta has revealed how Arsenal’s squad is faring with training at their homes, as well as opening up about how the coronavirus crisis is affecting the players emotionally.

Arteta was the first well-known sporting figure in England to test positive for COVID-19 several weeks ago, which forced his players and coaching staff to spend 14 days in self-isolation. 

The Gunners boss has now made a full recovery and was expecting to return to training this week, before the UK announced a part lockdown.

Mikel Arteta

With Arsenal’s training ground remaining closed, players have been given individual fitness programmes and Arteta discussed the specifics of these regimes in an interview posted on the ​club’s website. 

There are different aspects that we have to try to maintain,” he said. 

“One is health and that’s the most important one for sure. We’re just trying to cover all the necessities that players, staff and employees need to try to sustain the club with healthy people. That’s the first one and that’s our responsibility.

“The second one is the physical aspect. They all have programmes and they all have individual work to do that they are really doing and really trying to maintain themselves so they can prepare themselves for when we have to get back playing.

“The third one is the mind. There is the psychological support that they need, which we are giving them, and as well I’m giving them a lot of homework to do because I’ve been reviewing everything that we’ve been doing since I joined.

mikel arteta

“There are things we have to maintain doing, improve and develop, and individually they are really enjoying the challenge. We might get a few coaches after this virus, or at least a few players that are willing to go down that path because I think they are really enjoying the process.”

Arteta also claimed that the enforced separation from his squad had opened up new avenues of communication with the players.

Now I’m at home, they are not sitting next to me. We can open conversations in a different way and I think that over a worldwide situation it’s affecting them and it’s making them feel more human and vulnerable as well,” the Spaniard said.

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Real Madrid Unlikely to Continue Pursuit of Arsenal Starlet Gabriel Martinelli This Summer

Arsenal have been handed a huge boost after fresh reports claimed that Real Madrid will not reignite their interest in Gabriel Martinelli this summer.

Martinelli arrived at Arsenal last summer from Brazilian side Ituano, penning a long-term deal until 2024. In a season of transition at the Emirates, the 18-year-old’s development has been a rare shining light as the club continues to languish in mid-table.

Martinelli’s ten goals in all competitions for the Gunners this season hadn’t gone unnoticed among some of Europe’s elite clubs, with Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane said to be one of a host of admirers.

Gabriel Martinelli

However, the ​Daily Star report that with chaos ensuing behind the scenes following the coronavirus pandemic, Los Blancos will not be chasing the Brazilian’s signature this summer.

It remains to be seen whether the Spanish giants will renew their interest in the youngster following the resumption of European football.

Despite the speculation surrounding his future, Martinelli has maintained he is happy in north London and was quoted earlier this month as saying he hopes to repay the faith ​Arsenal have shown in him.

“I want to win the ​Champions League and lots of domestic titles to make Arsenal’s fans very happy,” the Brazilian told ​FourFourTwo.

“They deserve the best – not only the supporters but all of the club’s staff. I’d like to give back to the club after everything they’ve done for me so far and, as a result, become a Gunners legend.”

Despite having been brought to the club under the stewardship of former Gunners boss Unai Emery, Martinelli also heaped praise on Mikel Arteta when asked about his new manager’s influence.

Gabriel Martinelli

“He’s been brilliant,” Martinelli added. “He pays a lot of attention to moves and keeps pushing me to improve my game, not only in attack but defence, too.

“The boss is very wise tactically and incredibly helpful. He’s not an angry guy at all but likes showing you exactly what to do on the pitch: ‘If the ball goes that way, don’t stay here, go there and turn your body that specific way’. He has a keen eye for detail.”

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