Ajax Bracing for Summer Exodus as 8 Players Could Follow Hakim Ziyech Through Exit Door

​Ajax are reported to be bracing themselves for a mass exodus this summer, with Hakim Ziyech’s move to Chelsea expected to trigger an avalanche of key players departing.

The Blues announced the summer signing of Ziyech earlier this month, as he became the third player from their historic 2018/19 campaign to formally depart, following in the footsteps of Frenkie de Jong and Matthijs de Ligt during the summer. 

Erik ten Hag’s side have done a remarkably good job of keeping together the squad of players who delighted neutrals as they ran to the Champions League semi-finals last season, and they have been repaid for their loyalty with another strong campaign as they sit six points clear at the top of the Eredivisie and on course for a second straight league win. 

Dusan Tadic,Lassina Traore

They exited the ​Champions League in December this time around, however, and according to ​The Athletic, that will prompt a number of their key stars to call it a day. 

David Ornstein’s column leads with news that the quadrangle of Donny van de Beek, David Neres, André Onana and Nicolas Tagliafico are all expected to be off. Van de Beek has long been a target of both ​Manchester United and Real Madrid, while Onana has been linked with Chelsea and Ziyech’s move there may open that door further for the highly-rated keeper. 

Those are just half of the potential high-profile exits from Amsterdam, however. 

Right-backs Noussair Mazraoui and Sergino Dest could also go, with the latter ​’very likely’ to join Bayern Munich, while former Manchester United defender Daley Blind is being linked with a move back to England, with Arsenal monitoring his situation following his return after heart surgery. 

Dutch Eredivisie"Ajax Amsterdam v RKC Waalwijk"

Rounding out the octagon of potential departures is experienced defender Joel Veltman, after eight years of service to the senior side since coming through the youth ranks. 

Coming in may be Tottenham defender Jan Vertonghen, who ​Ten Hag confirmed the club are monitoring ahead of a potential return to the club when his Spurs contract expires. 


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Arsenal Handed Boost in Gabriel Magalhães Chase as Lille Defender Opens Door to Move

​Lille defender Gabriel Magalhães has refused to rule out a potential move to Arsenal, but did admit that he would love to move to the Premier League.

The Gunners have been tracking the 22-year-old this season and were even rumoured to have tried to sign him in January, only to be knocked back.

FBL-FRA-LIGUE1-PSG-LILLE

That move may have failed, but links to ​Arsenal have still persisted. ​Téléfoot specifically asked Gabriel about whether he would be interested in a move to the Emirates Stadium, and the Brazilian confessed it could happen.

“Maybe, I don’t know,” he said. “But I would love to play in the ​Premier League.”

Gabriel has made 31 appearances in all competitions this season and has proven to be one of the side’s most important players. There are high hopes for the 22-year-old, and that potential has attracted interest from plenty of teams.

Gabriel dos Santos Magalhaes

Alongside Arsenal, ​Everton are rumoured to be keen on bringing Gabriel to England, while there were also unconvincing reports linking him with a switch to ​Chelsea during the January ​transfer window.

​The Sun have previously noted that Arsenal are preparing a move for Gabriel in the summer, with Lille president Gérard Lopez holding out for £30m to part ways with the young defender.

The French side base that figure on the £27m which Arsenal paid for fellow youngster William Saliba last summer, believing that Gabriel has proven to be a similarly exciting talent during his breakout year.

FBL-FRA-L1-BORDEAUX-SAINT ETIENNE

The Gunners will know that they will likely have to pay that entire £30m, given Lopez’s reputation as a tough negotiator. They already had to deal with him when they signed winger Nicolas Pépé for £72m in the summer, and they might be preparing themselves for round two.

Instead of Gabriel, Arsenal struck a loan deal for Flamengo’s Pablo Marí in January, but they are expected to look for a permanent signing in the summer to play alongside Saliba, whose loan with Saint-Étienne will expire at the end of the season.


For more from Tom Gott, follow him on Twitter!

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Mikel Arteta Admits Newcastle Job Offer Was ‘Life Changing’ & Gives Verdict on Steve Bruce

Mikel Arteta has revealed receiving an offer from Newcastle to become their manager was ‘life changing’ but added that the Magpies are most likely ‘happy’ with their decision to appoint Steve Bruce. 

Arteta was assistant manager to Pep Guardiola at Manchester City at the time and elected to stay with the Premier League champions, though admitted the process was one that had a positive affect on him. 

“I was considering a situation at Newcastle that could change my professional and personal life,” Arteta said, as quoted by ​the Shields Gazette. 

Mikel Arteta

“I had to put everything on the table to make that decision. I made the decision to stay where I was at the time.” 

Arsenal entertained Newcastle on Sunday looking to bolster their top four hopes against a side they were level on points with heading into the encounter. 

While Bruce’s appointment in the summer was met with universal criticism among Newcastle fans, they are well set to avoid relegation and in better fashion than under predecessor Rafa Benitez, too. 

Speaking on how things worked out, Arteta added: “I believe that Newcastle are happy. What Steve has brought to the club has been really, really good. 

Stephen Bruce

“The performances and results, compared to where they were last year, are above any expectation. He’s put together a team with great spirit, and is a manager with massive, massive experience.” 

Arteta’s ​Arsenal beat Bruce’s ​Newcastle 4-0 thanks to strikes from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Nicolas Pepe, Mesut Ozil and Alexandre Lacazette, ensuring they stay within six points of fifth placed Tottenham – a position that may be good enough to secure ​Champions League football, following the news of Manchester City’s ban from UEFA competitions. 

Next up for the Gunners is a Europa League fixture at Olympiacos, before they host Everton at the Emirates in the ​Premier League. 

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Arsenal 4-0 Newcastle: Report, Ratings and Reaction as Improved Gunners Sink Magpies

Goals from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Nicolas Pepé and Mesut Ozil saw Arsenal eventually shrug off Newcastle, and secure a much-needed Premier League win for Mikel Arteta. 

Both sides have shied away from goals of late and that was certainly reflected in the opening stages, where creativity and actual chances might as well have been mythical. Joelinton fluffed an effort following a corner and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang fizzed one over from 25 yards, but it was not a first half for fans nor neutrals. 

After the break it was a different matter, however – for ​Arsenal, at least. Eddie Nketiah spurned an excellent opportunity to give the Gunners the lead before a quickfire double from ​Aubameyang and Nicolas Pepé – the latter coming after a beautiful nutmeg and cross from Bukayo Saka on Lazaro – wrote the visitors out of the game before they knew what had hit them. 

Nicolas Pepe

​Newcastle tried their hand at hitting back and Ciaran Clark shanked a glorious chance wide when it would have been easier to hit the target, before the electric Allan Saint-Maximin curled one off the far post. But it just wasn’t to be for Steve Bruce’s side who really lacked the invention required to do much damage. 

Their fate was sealed when Martin Dubravka fumbled a tame Mesut Ozil effort over the line, before Alexandre Lacazette emerged from the bench to notch a fourth. 


​Arsenal

Key Talking Point

It’s been a stale, indifferent start to life back at the Emirates for Mikel Arteta. On one hand, they hadn’t lost a league game since losing to Chelsea on December 29th; on the other, they hadn’t won one since beating Manchester United three days later. 

Four straight Premier League draws, albeit in difficult-looking games on paper, then, necessitated a win here at home to a side behind them only on goal difference. That was a sentiment certainly felt by Arteta, who rung the changes, with Alexandre Lacazette dropping to the bench and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang shunted out wide to make room for a first league start for Eddie Nketiah. 

Eddie Nketiah

Dani Ceballos made a long-awaited return to the starting 11 while Nicolas Pepé was restored, and the boss’ ruthlessness was felt most potently by Matteo Guendouzi, who was left out of the squad altogether for ‘tactical reasons’. 

But while it was far from a trademark performance over the piece, the manager’s decisiveness in selection proved fruitful. In the second half they looked brighter than they had been all season, and blew the Magpies away with some explosive quality in the final third. 

4-0 perhaps flatters Arsenal, but a mightily-improved second half performance eased the pressure on Arteta and showed a glimmer of what we may be in for in the long run. 


Player Ratings

Starting XI: Leno (6); Bellerin (7), Mustafi (6), Luiz (6), Saka (8); Ceballos (7), Xhaka (6); Pepé (8), Ozil (7), Aubameyang (7); Nketiah (8)

Subs: Torreira (5), Lacazette (6), Willock (N/A)


Star Man

The sight of Bukayo Saka briefly leaving the field with injury would have had Gooners’ hearts in their mouths, but the deputy left-back lasted the 90 minutes in what was perhaps his best performance yet in an Arsenal shirt. 



The fact he has taken to his new defensive role so smoothly is a credit to his attitude, and it’s done little to limit his attacking contributions, as evidenced by his exemplary assist for Pepé that was taken straight out of the Thierry Henry playbook. 

If it wasn’t already abundantly clear that they need to secure his future, then it is now. 


Newcastle

Key Talking Point

January signings Valentino Lazaro, Danny Rose and Nabil Bentaleb all started for Steve Bruce’s side who were after a first ever Premier League win at the Emirates. Having not lost a game in eight heading in, in a season in which they continue to defy all expectations, they might have really fancied their chances against an Arsenal side there for the taking. 

Valentino Lazaro, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

It didn’t quite play out that way, however. While the performance was by no means the worst even of this unexpectedly steady Steve Bruce era, their heads were left spinning by some of the attacking quality produced by the Gunners, as they had no answer to the pace and dynamism with which their hosts responded to an uninspiring first half. 

In truth they seemed simply to be overpowered by a far superior side on the day, though their distinct lack of cutting edge was notable as they failed to put any substantial pressure on a Gunners back line that has been known to crumble.


Player Ratings

Starting XI: Dubravka (6); Lazaro (5), Fernandez (5), Lascelles (6), Clark (6), Rose (6); Almiron (6), Bentaleb (6), Longstaff (6), Saint-Maximin (7); Joelinton (6)

Subs: Ritchie (5), Hayden (5), Schar (N/A)


Star Man

For all Newcastle have impressed this season, you really wonder where they would be without the driving force of Allan Saint-Maximin on the left flank. 



The Frenchman seems to be getting better with time and though he had little in the way of substantial support, he consistently threatened to make things happen, his jinking run that took him past Hector Bellerin and Shkrodan Mustafi before rattling the far post summing up another strong – if ultimately fruitless – performance. 


Looking Ahead

Arsenal will face Olympiacos in the Europa League on Thursday before returning to the Emirates to host Everton. 

Newcastle, meanwhile, have six days to pick themselves up before they travel back to London to face Crystal Palace. 


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10 Premier League Title-Winning Points Tallies Liverpool Could Pass Before the End of the Season

Liverpool are all about breaking records this season. On their quest to prove that they are perhaps the most dominant side in Premier League history, things are going pretty well.

They currently sit on 76 points from 26 games, which is more than the 75 Manchester United managed in their entire title-winning 1996/97 campaign. One champion down, 26 to go.

The Reds are on track to bypass even more former winners in the coming weeks, and here are ten champions whose points tallies look set to be surpassed soon.


Arsenal (1997/98) – 78

Tony Adams

Next up in ​Liverpool’s sights are the ​Arsenal side of 1997/98, who racked up 78 points en route to their first title.

The Gunners were not fantastic for the first half of the season and found themselves 12 points behind ​Manchester United in February, but a run of ten consecutive victories was enough to see them secure the title with two games to spare.

It was Arsène Wenger’s first full season as manager, and it was certainly a memorable one.


Manchester United (1998/99) – 79

Dwight Yorke

Arsenal also picked up 78 points in the 1998/​99 campaign, but unfortunately for them, United managed 79 to wrestle the trophy back to Old Trafford.

Their tally of 22 wins was not exactly dominant, but it got the job done. The likes of Dwight Yorke, Andy Cole and current boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer were full of goals and managed to guide United over the line.

Sir Alex Ferguson’s side also won the FA Cup and the ​Champions League that year, so Liverpool have plenty of work to do if they are to completely eclipse this team.


Manchester United (2000/01) – 80

Alex Ferguson, Roy Keane

United’s total of 80 points in the 2000/01 season was enough for them to waltz to the league title, ten points clear of Arsenal in second.

It was their third consecutive title victory, with the likes of Teddy Sheringham and Fabien Barthez playing huge roles for the side. They led the league for almost the entire season and rarely looked under threat.

They probably should have won more, but it became clear that the team had almost given up in their last three games after their success had already been confirmed.


Manchester United (2010/11) – 80

Manchester United v Blackpool - Premier League

The Red Devils matched their tally of 80 points ten years later, comfortably lifting the trophy with a nine-point lead over ​Chelsea.

Away from home, Ferguson’s side were far from convincing, but they were utterly dominant at Old Trafford. United won 18 of their home games, with a 2-2 draw with ​West Brom the only blot on their otherwise perfect record.

They were close to becoming the only side in league history to win all of their home games – a record which Liverpool are currently on track to capture.​


Leicester City (2015/16) – 81

Riyad Mahrez

​Leicester City’s triumph in the 2015/16 season seems almost like a blur. The Foxes stunned the world by amassing 81 points, which was ten more than any other side.

Claudio Ranieri’s side lost just three games all year, but their 12 draws stopped their points tally from climbing any higher.

The amount of players who dominated the league that year is unreal. Jamie Vardy, Riyad Mahrez, Danny Drinkwater and N’Golo Kanté are just a few. The list goes on.


Manchester United (1995/96) – 82

Man Utd Parade

Liverpool need just seven more points to move clear of United’s tally of 82 from their successful 1995/96 season.

That year was the first in which any English side had managed to win the league and the FA Cup, and was made all the more special by the fact that the team was made up of a number of talented youngsters, like David Beckham, Paul Scholes and Gary and Phil Neville.

Frenchman Eric Cantona, who returned from his eight-month ban for kicking a fan in October, went on to fire 14 goals and lift the FWA Player of the Year award.​


Manchester United (2002/03) – 83

Van Nistelrooy of Man United celebrates scoring

Having finished third in the 2001/02 season, United needed to bounce back in emphatic fashion, and that’s exactly what they did.

The Red Devils were nine points behind Arsenal in March, but they simply could not be stopped as they ultimately leapt ahead of the Gunners and finished with a five-point cushion.

They had the 25 goals of Dutchman Ruud van Nistelrooy, alongside the record-breaking signing of Rio Ferdinand, to thank for that.


Manchester United (1992/93) – 84

CANTONA MANU

United have several other league title victories, but the final one which is under immediate threat is their 1992/93 triumph, which saw them pick up 84 points.

However, it must be noted that the Red Devils did need 42 games to rack up that tally. After 38 games, they would have only had 72 points, which Liverpool blew past a few weeks ago.

Nevertheless, it’s in the record books, so it’s one more tally which Liverpool will have to get by.​


Chelsea (2009/10) – 86

Chelsea's captain John Terry celebrates

Chelsea’s first entry on this list comes from the 2009/10 campaign, in which they managed 27 wins and 86 points.

The Blues broke several scoring records that season, including most goals scored (103), best goal difference (+71) and most goals at home (68), as Carlo Ancelotti’s side finished just one point clear of United in second.

Didier Drogba fired home 29 of the Blues’ goals that year, ​while the likes of Petr Čech, John Terry, Branislav Ivanović and Frank Lampard were all in electric form.


Manchester City (2013/14) – 86

Manuel Pellegrini,Yaya Toure

The next team to finish on 86 points was ​Manchester City, who managed that total in the 2013/14 season.

Like Chelsea, the Citizens also won 27 of their games that year, but they only managed 102 goals. Tame.​

Surpassing this total will mean a lot to Liverpool. The Reds were supposed to win the title this year, only for implosions against Chelsea and ​Crystal Palace to leave them two points behind when all was said and done.


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