EPL

Football rumours: Arsenal keen on signing Alexander Isak and Michael Olise

By Sports Desk April 19, 2024

What the papers say

The Guardian reports that Arsenal are considering bringing in a striker and winger this summer, with Newcastle forward Alexander Isak and Crystal Palace winger Michael Olise among their targets.

Germany boss Julian Nagelsmann has managerial options outside of Bayern Munich and will make a decision in the next week or so, his agent says via the Metro.

Ex-Liverpool and Everton boss Rafael Benitez will take over as manager at Sao Paulo, less than month after he was sacked by Celta Vigo, claims The Sun.

Chelsea are preparing for offers from Liverpool and Ligue 1 outfit Paris St Germain for England international defender Levi Colwill.

Social media round-upPlayers to watch

Benjamin Sesko: Chelsea and Manchester United are monitoring the RB Leipzig forward, who has a 50 million euro (£42.8 million) release clause, says Ben Jacobs.

Serge Gnabry: Tottenham are interested in the former Arsenal forward, with Bayern Munich willing to sell the Germany international, reports Football Insider.

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  • West Ham finalise Lopetegui appointment after Moyes departure West Ham finalise Lopetegui appointment after Moyes departure

    West Ham have confirmed the appointment of Julen Lopetegui as their new head coach, following David Moyes' departure at the end of the season.

    Moyes' second stint at the London Stadium came to an end with Sunday's 3-1 final-day defeat to champions Manchester City, as the Hammers finished ninth in the Premier League table.

    That was their third top-half finish in four full seasons under Moyes, who also led them to the Europa Conference League trophy last year.

    However, a section of the club's fanbase continued to criticise Moyes' style of play throughout 2023-24, and it was announced at the start of May that he would not be extending his contract.

    Reports immediately suggested Lopetegui was the leading contender to take charge, and it has now been confirmed that he will officially begin working with West Ham on July 1.

    Speaking to West Ham's media channels, Lopetegui said he was excited to start building a future at West Ham. 

    "I feel that we have a fantastic platform," he said. "I think the last few years have been very good years to have this base, of course, but my ambition as a coach is always to be better and better, to achieve more and bigger aims and to encourage and improve the players, the team, and to compete because football is about this – to compete. We are very ambitious about this.

    "I am where I want to be. I am here because I want to be here and, for us, it was a fantastic day when we closed our agreement here because our commitment is 100 per cent to be here.

    "We had other opportunities, but I am very happy that West Ham chose me because I chose West Ham too, so we are really happy about this.

    "We came here with the idea and the thought to make a big, big noise. That's why we came here, and we are excited by this challenge.

    "Of course, we are going to do our best to help the club and the team to achieve the best level and to achieve our aims. I assure the fans that they are going to be key in all our achievements."

    Lopetegui walked out of his previous role with Wolves on the eve of the 2023-24 season, having grown frustrated by a lack of transfer activity after saving the side from relegation in 2022-23.

    He previously enjoyed stints in charge of Porto, Spain and Real Madrid, also leading Sevilla to Europa League glory and three successive top-four finishes in LaLiga.

  • Leverkusen 'not interested' in unbeaten season before Europa League defeat, says Xhaka Leverkusen 'not interested' in unbeaten season before Europa League defeat, says Xhaka

    Bayer Leverkusen were "not interested" in maintaining their unbeaten record, according to Granit Xhaka, who acknowledged his frustrations after Wednesday's Europa League final disappointment.

    Xabi Alonso's Bundesliga champions had not suffered defeat since the final game of last season against Bochum, but succumbed to their next loss in the decisive moment against Atalanta in Dublin.

    Ademola Lookman stole the headlines with a remarkable hat-trick, powering Gian Piero Gasperini's team to their first title in 61 years, when Atalanta won the Coppa Italia.

    A 3-0 defeat ensured Leverkusen will have to settle for, at most, a domestic double as they look to bounce back on Saturday in the DFB-Pokal final.

    Yet Xhaka insisted Alonso's side never had the undefeated streak in their minds as soon as kick-off arrived at the Aviva Stadium.

    "Honestly, we're not interested in the unbeaten record," the former Arsenal midfielder said to RTL. "We didn't care about that from the start.

    "It's about the game and unfortunately we lost a final today. That's football.

    "We said yesterday that it would be a difficult game. Compliments to Atalanta."

    Leverkusen's unbeaten streak spanned nine months and 51 games this season, starting their 2023-24 campaign with a first-round DFB-Pokal thrashing of lowly Teutonia Ottensen in mid-August.

    Alonso's impressive men triumphed in 42 of those matches during their historic unbeaten run across all competitions, drawing the other nine as Leverkusen coasted to their first Bundesliga title in history.

    Scoring 143 goals and conceding just 39 across that dominant period, not many would have expected Gasperini's side to shutout Leverkusen and beat goalkeeper Matej Kovar three times in the process.

    Leverkusen are the first league-title winners to lose the UEFA Cup/Europa League final in the same season since Benfica in 2013-14, and the first German side to do since Borussia Dortmund in 2001-02.

    In single-game only finals, this was also the biggest margin of defeat for a German team since Eintracht Frankfurt lost 7-3 to Real Madrid in the 1960 European Cup, perhaps explaining Xhaka's annoyance.

  • Europa League misery will not taint Alonso's Leverkusen pride Europa League misery will not taint Alonso's Leverkusen pride

    Xabi Alonso will not allow Bayer Leverkusen's Europa League final defeat against Atalanta to alter his pride, after their historic 51-game unbeaten run ended on Wednesday.

    The Bundesliga champions were eyeing an unlikely treble, with the DFB-Pokal final to come this weekend, but those plans came crashing down in a 3-0 loss to Atalanta.

    Ademola Lookman single-handedly powered Gian Piero Gasperini's side to their first title in 61 years, producing an individual performance for the ages with a decisive hat-trick.

    European heartbreak marked Leverkusen's first loss this season, with their last defeat coming to Bochum on the last day of the 2022-23 Bundesliga campaign, as Alonso's side were finally stopped.

    Yet the former Liverpool and Bayern Munich midfielder says nothing can take away from Leverkusen's memorable campaign.

    "For me the result today does not change one bit how I feel about my players or what we have been doing," the Leverkusen head coach told TNT Sports.

    "It hurts because we wanted to lift the trophy but you can't have everything. We lifted the Bundesliga and we have the chance to lift the DFB-Pokal on Saturday."

    Leverkusen are the first team to win the league title but lose the UEFA Cup/Europa League final in the same term since Benfica in 2013-14, and the first German side to do since Borussia Dortmund in 2001-02.

    "This season and achievements have surpassed all expectations," Alonso continued.

    "I was hoping and getting ready to maybe do something great but this has been so much more.

    "To achieve what we have for a club like Leverkusen is great. To be in the last week of the season having lifted the Bundesliga and then going for the Pokal too means a lot.

    "First year as a coach, it is going quite well!"

    A monumental occasion at the Aviva Stadium marked Atalanta's first-ever major European trophy as they became the 10th different Italian side to do so, second only to teams from England (13).

    Alonso was unsurprised by the excellence of Gasperini and his Atalanta side, however.

    "It is not something they have just done this year, they have been doing it for many years," the Spaniard said, acknowledging the work of 66-year-old Gasperini.

    "They are a special team. Normally we get in better positions ourselves but today we could not.

    "We were not able to come back and get that back. It was not meant to be.

    "The unbeaten run has come to an end but congratulations to Atalanta, they deserve it, so nothing more to say."

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