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News Flash: Arsenal only made move for Martin Odegaard after approach for Barcelona wonderkid was rejected

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Martin Odegaard was not Arsenal’s first-choice target to fill the number 10 role with the Gunners only approaching Real Madrid after being rebuffed by Barcelona, according to reports.

The north London club were eager to bring in more creativity in the January window – particularly with Mesut Ozil having left – and eventually managed to sign Odegaard on loan until the end of the season. However, Italian journalist Fabrizio Romano has revealed on his Here We Go podcast that Arsenal originally had their eye on a different La Liga playmaker: Barca’s Riqui Puiq. Puig has started to feature more regularly after barely playing earlier this season.

The Gunners approached Barca about a possible deal for a player who, until that point, had not started a single match in La Liga and the Catalan club were open to doing a deal. However, they left the decision up to manager Ronald Koeman and he was reluctant to let Puiq leave, having decided to begin reintegrating him into the first team. After making just one substitute appearance in the first 15 games of the Liga season, Puig has now played in four of Barcelona’s last seven league matches and scored against Elche.

Puig even came off the bench to net against Elche at the end of January

The player himself has always been reluctant to leave Camp Nou, even on loan, and was not tempted by Arsenal’s interest – particularly with his manager starting to show faith in him for the first time. Barca informed Arsenal midway through January that Puig would not be leaving, with the Gunners then switching their attention to trying to sign Odegaard.

Arsenal had proposed a loan deal with a buy option for Puig, which Barca had initially appeared open to, but they could not manage to persuade Real to include a buy option in the deal for Odegaard, who is expected to return to the Bernabeu in the summer. Odegaard is yet to start for Arsenal, making two brief cameos off the bench against Manchester United and Aston Villa,

Odegaard has played just two games for Arsenal, All as a substitute

but he is likely to be giving a spot in the starting XI in the coming days, either against Leeds United in the Premier League.

 

 

 

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Kieran Tierney could captain Arsenal in the future, claims Ray Parlour

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 Kieran Tierney could captain Arsenal in the future, claims Ray Parlour

Ray Parlour has praised Kieran Tierney’s attitude and desire, and believes the left-back has the credentials to captain Arsenal in the future.

The Scotland international, who joined the Gunners in the summer of 2019 from Celtic, has been one of Mikel Arteta’s side’s most consistent performers this season, with his marauding displays from full-back proving to be a useful attacking asset.

Tierney has also registered two goals across all competitions this season, including a vital left-footed strike to spark his side’s dramatic comeback against Benfica in the Europa League last week.

Kirean Tierney Celebrates after getting on the score sheet for Arsenal against Benfica in the Europa League

Tierney’s attacking impetus down the left has been vital for Arteta’s side.

And Parlour is in agreement with fellow Gunners legends such as Ian Wright and Tony Adams that Tierney could captain the club in the future.

‘I really like his attitude,’ Parlour told talkSPORT. ‘He turns up every week, you can see the desire when he’s playing; he really wants to win every game.

‘He gives 100 per cent and is fantastic down that left-hand side. That’s where Arsenal are most dangerous, that’s where the deliveries come from into the box.

‘He’s been a brilliant signing, and he’s a really good lad as well; he’s really down to earth. ‘He could probably be the Arsenal captain in the future.’

Arteta himself also recently talked up Tierney’s attributes which could lead to him eventually becoming captain.

‘I think he can be Arsenal captain as he has the respect and admiration of every member of the staff and every player,’ said the Spanish boss in January.

‘It is just the way he is. He does it in a natural way. ‘He is a really shy boy as well but he represents all of us in the club; all of the values that we want to instil and are in the DNA in this club.’

 

 

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Loan Watch: Mikel Arteta reveals ‘good news’ on Arsenal star William Saliba

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Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta says William Saliba’s loan spell at Nice is ‘good news’ for the Gunners as the club will have a ‘much better perception’ of how to use the defender next season.

The Frenchman agreed to join the club in a £30m deal in 2019 but spent a further season with Saint-Etienne before moving to the Emirates last summer.

However, while Saliba was held up as the answer to the club’s issues at centre-back, Arteta did not share the view of supporters and failed to give the 20-year-old a single start in the first team.

 

Saliba in Action For OGC Nice

After a frustrating period with the U23s, Saliba requested to leave on loan in January and he joined Ligue 1 side Nice until the end of the campaign.

Saliba’s impressed back in France, playing ten times in all competitions.

Arsenal loaned fellow youngster Konstantinos Mavropanos to Stuggart in a bid to get him first team football and Arteta says the pair’s loan spells are ‘good news’ for the Gunners moving forward.

‘We are having meetings very often to assess what they are doing,’ said Arteta when asked if he’s keeping tabs on the progress of Mavropanos and Saliba.

‘Obviously we are getting all the information and watching their games because I want to keep a very close eye on what they are doing.

‘We are in contact with the players and let’s see. It’s good news that they’re playing and good news that they have the possibility to have a lot of minutes, because that’s going to give us a much better perception of where they are and how we can use them.’

Arsenal are set to offer David Luiz a 12-month contract extension as Arteta values the veteran’s experience. Arteta has reintegrated Pablo Mari into his starting XI in recent weeks, with the Spaniard partnering Rob Holding or Gabriel in the heart of his defence.

A decision over Saliba’s future will be made at the end of the season, with Nice keen to keep the Frenchman for another season.

 

 

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Just In: Arteta provides positive Emile Smith Rowe injury update

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The midfielder was forced off in the first half against Leicester

Mikel Arteta says the muscle injury Emile Smith Rowe sustained in Arsenal’s 3-1 win over Leicester City last weekend ‘doesn’t look significant’.

The 20-year-old was forced off shortly before half-time at the King Power Stadium and replaced by Martin Odegaard.

Smith Rowe has played a pivotal role in Arsenal’s attack in recent months, providing four assists in 12 Premier League games since his introduction into the first team at the end of December.

Arteta’s side head into their clash against Burnley in 10th position in the table

And speaking ahead of the Gunners’ clash against Burnley at Turf Moor on Saturday, Arteta played down the severity of the midfielder’s injury despite not revealing whether he would be able to feature this weekend.

‘Emile had a scan yesterday, it doesn’t look a significant injury but he was in discomfort,’ said Arteta. ‘For the rest, hopefully everybody should be okay.’

The Gunners are currently down in 10th place in the table and eight points off the top four after losing 11 of their 26 Premier League games this season.

When asked whether his side can still secure a finish in the Champions League places, Arteta replied: ‘Well the aim is to go on and beat Burnley, we have been chasing [a top-four place] for a while but it is not in our hands.

‘The only thing we can control is our own results and performances. We are fully determined to do that better than what we have done in the past eight months.’

 

 

 

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