Roma in advanced Xhaka talks | Arsenal eye Neves, White

Roma are in advanced negotiations with Arsenal for the transfer of midfielder Granit Xhaka.

The Serie A club are thought to be close to Arsenal’s valuation – believed to be in the region of £21.5m (€25m) – but have yet to agree a fee.

Personal terms between the Switzerland captain and Roma are not expected to be a problem.

Xhaka was requested by new Roma boss Jose Mourinho, who was named as Paulo Fonseca’s replacement in May.

Jose Mourinho will take over at Roma next season after he was sacked by Tottenham
Jose Mourinho will take over at Roma next season after he was sacked by Tottenham

The ex-Tottenham boss is understood to be an admirer of the Switzerland international and said of Xhaka two years ago: “He is the most important man in the entire Arsenal midfield. He’s a true leader.”

Xhaka joined Arsenal from Borussia Monchengladbach in 2016 for a fee in the region of £30m.

He made 31 Premier League appearances during the 2020/21 season, scoring once, and has featured over 160 times in the league since his arrival five years ago.

The 28-year-old came close to leaving the Emirates Stadium in January 2020, amid reported interest from Hertha Berlin, but opted to stay in north London on that occasion.

Arsenal show interest in Neves and White

Ruben Neves celebrates his equaliser at St James's Park
Arsenal are interested in Wolves’ Ruben Neves

Arsenal technical director Edu and manager Mikel Arteta are working hard on potential arrivals and Wolves midfielder Ruben Neves is someone they are interested in.

The Gunners are also one of a number of clubs interested in Brighton and England defender Ben White, while they also have not ruled out signing Brighton keeper Mat Ryan on a permanent deal following his loan spell at the Emirates last season.

Ryan may want assurances of game time before committing to a move.

Ben White (PA)
Arsenal are among a number of clubs interested in Ben White

Arsenal also remain in touch with Real Madrid over Martin Odegaard. The Norway international was on loan at the Emirates for the second half of last season with the Gunners looking into the possibility of signing him on a permanent deal despite the player’s valuation remaining a potential obstacle.

Lacazette, Nketiah, Nelson fates to be decided

Arsenal's Alexandre Lacazette, centre, tries to get past Fulham's Ola Aina, right, during an English Premier League soccer match between Arsenal and Fulham at the Emirates stadium
Alexandre Lacazette could be among a number of players leaving Arsenal this summer

The futures of Alexandre Lacazette, Eddie Nketiah, Sead Kolasinac and Reiss Nelson will be decided in the coming weeks with all four players entering the final year of their contracts.

Other players Arsenal may consider offers for to fund their own targets this summer are Joe Willock, Bernd Leno, Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Hector Bellerin.

Willock has been linked with a move to Newcastle following a highly successful loan spell during the second half of last season.

Midfielders Matteo Guendouzi and Lucas Torreira went on loan last season and Arsenal will look to sell both players this summer.

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Super League six count £22m cost of Premier League ‘fines’

The six English clubs which secretly agreed to play in a European Super League (ESL) will pay a combined £22m to draw a line under their ensuing row with the Premier League.

The figure was announced in a joint statement by the Premier League and the Football Association on Wednesday afternoon.

Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham have also agreed to an additional £25m fine and a potential 30-point deduction for any similar transgression in the future.

“The six clubs involved in proposals to form a European Super League have today acknowledged once again that their actions were a mistake, and have reconfirmed their commitment to the Premier League and the future of the English game,” the statement read.

“They have wholeheartedly apologised to their fans, fellow clubs, the Premier League and The FA.

“As a gesture of goodwill, the clubs have collectively agreed to make a contribution of £22m, which will go towards the good of the game, including new investment in support for fans, grassroots football and community programmes.

“Furthermore, the clubs have agreed to support rule changes so that any similar actions in the future would lead to a 30-point deduction.

“Each of the six clubs, in that event, would also be subject to an additional £25m fine.

“The Premier League and The FA have worked closely together throughout this process and this agreement brings both investigations into the matter to a conclusion.”

Gary Neville in the stands during the Sky Bet League Two match at the Peninsula Stadium, Salford. Picture date: Friday January 22, 2021.


Sky Sports’ Gary Neville dissects the European Super League scandal, claims the big six clubs ‘attempted murder’ on English football, and has urged people to mobilise in order to protect the game in future

The Premier League-imposed fines are comparable to those imposed by UEFA, which announced a package of “reintegration measures” for the nine clubs who agreed to pull out of the ESL during a torrid 48-hour period at the end of April.

Including AC Milan, Inter Milan and Atletico Madrid, the ‘Big Six’ agreed to pay a collective €15m (£12.9m) to be invested in children’s, youth and grassroots football, with five per cent of their revenues from UEFA club competitions being withheld for one season.

They also agreed to far larger future fines – totalling €150m (£129m) – if they breached commitments in UEFA’s Club Commitments Declaration, or signed up to any similar breakaway format.

Julian Knight, the Conservative MP who chairs the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport committee, said: “This shows what a calamitous PR exercise this was. The supposed masters of the football universe have been shown to be nothing more than rank amateurs.

“Out of this omnishambles I would like to think that we will see a fairer game with more money flowing down the football pyramid, but I won’t be holding my breath.”

UEFA also announced on Wednesday that its Appeals Body has decided to temporarily suspend the proceedings opened against Super League rebels Real Madrid, Barcelona and Juventus until further notice.

“UEFA understands why the disciplinary proceedings needed to be suspended for the time being, but remains confident in and will continue to defend its position in all the relevant jurisdictions,” a UEFA statement read on Wednesday.

“UEFA will take all necessary steps in strict accordance with national and EU law in order for the UEFA Appeals Body to be in a position to resume the disciplinary proceedings as soon as possible.”

Unlike the UEFA fines, however, the Premier League penalties will be a straight cash sum rather than a percentage of next season’s broadcast income – an option that was also discussed in recent weeks.

The eventual settlement is substantially smaller than an initial proposal made by the Premier League last month, which comprised a £15m fine per club and a substantial – albeit suspended – points deduction.

Manchester United fan protests against Glazer ownership
Manchester United fan protests against the Glazer ownership in the weeks following the collapse of the ESL

However, Premier League directors are said to have decided that drawing a line under the European Super League project was a priority ahead of the league’s annual conference – attended by all 20 clubs – beginning on Thursday.

It was unclear on Wednesday whether all six rebel clubs would pay equal sums. They rapidly abandoned the ESL project amid a huge backlash from rivals, fans and politicians.

Only Barcelona, Juventus and Real Madrid have yet to formally withdraw from the ESL – raising the prospect of them being banned from next season’s Champions League.

The Premier League announced last month that it had reached agreement with broadcast partners, including Sky, to renew its existing £4.7bn television rights deal for a further three years.

In an attempt to prevent future breakaway bids, the Premier League has announced the creation of an ‘Owners’ Charter’, which it said had the Football Association’s backing.

It added recently that the six clubs’ participation in the ESL “had challenged the foundations and resolve of English football”.


Details of how the proposed European Super League collapsed from Kaveh Solhekol and Bryan Swanson

The government is likely to welcome the move to punish the six, although it is unclear whether the financial penalties imposed on them will simply be redistributed among the other 14 top-flight clubs.

Confirmation of the ESL’s existence, which came six months after Sky News revealed key details of the project, sparked unprecedented protests against the owners of many of the participating English clubs.

Arsenal has since received an unsolicited takeover bid from the Spotify billionaire Daniel Ek, while Manchester United’s largest shareholders, the Glazer family, said they would allow fans to buy shares in the club.

Executives from the six clubs have been removed from several Premier League sub-committees – a move that could be reversed following the agreement of a financial settlement.

A fan-led review of football governance has been commissioned by the government under the leadership of Tracey Crouch, the former sports minister.

Its panellists will include the chief executives of Everton and the Football Supporters’ Association.

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Ek to increase Arsenal takeover offer to £2bn

Spotify owner Daniel Ek looks set to increase his bid to buy Arsenal to £2bn.

Three weeks ago, the 38-year old Swede confirmed his initial offer of £1.8bn had been rejected by club owner Stan Kroenke.

Despite the rejection, Ek confirmed he remained interested in buying the club and it is understood the billionaire Arsenal fan is now preparing to increase his offer to £2bn.

Stan Kroenke’s position remains unchanged. He and his son Josh released a statement at the end of April saying they remain “100 per cent committed to Arsenal and are not selling any stake in the club”.

“Our ambition for Arsenal remains to compete to win the biggest trophies in the game and our focus remains on improving our competitiveness on the pitch to achieve this,” the statement read.

The billionaire said he would make a “very compelling offer” to the Kroenkes in order for them to sell the club after fans protested outside the Emirates Stadium in April following Arsenal’s decision to join a European Super League and called for the club’s current ownership to resign.

Ek has held constructive talks with the Arsenal Supporters’ Trust (AST), while Gunners legends Thierry Henry and Dennis Bergkamp are backing the Swede’s takeover ambitions.

Henry confirmed to Sky Sports last month Ek had “reached out” to the Kroenke family to present an offer to buy Arsenal and wants to “reinject the Arsenal DNA”.

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