William Saliba says Arsenal are the biggest club in England and that is why he chose the Gunners over Premier League rivals Tottenham.

Saint-Etienne defender Saliba completed his move to Arsenal on Thursday, but the 18-year-old will remain with the Ligue 1 side on loan during the 2019-20 season.

Arsenal were long seen as frontrunners to sign the highly-rated centre-back, with north London foes Tottenham making a late bid to beat Unai Emery's team to his signature.

But Saliba wasted no time in endearing himself to the Arsenal faithful by explaining why he decided to join the club instead of Spurs.

"First of all, it's a massive pleasure to sign for a really, really big English club," Saliba told Arsenal's official website.

"This is the biggest club in England for me, so it was an easy decision. I didn't think twice about signing here, so I'm really happy.

"The history, the badge... since I was little, I've been watching Arsenal play in the Champions League and so on, and there are a lot of French players who have come through here. So that really helped me to make my mind up.

"I spoke to Matteo [Guendouzi, the Arsenal midfielder]. I even bumped into him at a funfair in Paris, and that's where I told him that Arsenal wanted to sign me! He gently advised me to come here and explained what it was like."

Saliba feels it is the right move to remain with Saint-Etienne for another season before testing himself in the Premier League.

"Well, it was important first of all because I wanted to prove myself for another year at Saint-Etienne, before I come to try and establish myself here at Arsenal," he added.

"This is a big club, and when you come here, you need to be ready. So I'm going to try and have a great season with the club that developed me in order to be ready for Arsenal."

Maybe Juventus are not ready to give up on signing Manchester United star Paul Pogba just yet.

Pogba, 26, has been linked with a return to Turin and a move to Real Madrid as he looks for an Old Trafford exit.

But, just as it looked like Juve were struggling and Madrid was the midfielder's most likely destination, that may have changed.

 

TOP STORY – JUVE TO OFFER THREE PLAYERS IN MOVE FOR POGBA

Juventus could offer a fee plus three players in their move for Manchester United star Pogba, according to Corriere dello Sport.

Full-back Joao Cancelo, attacker Douglas Costa and midfielder Blaise Matuidi are the players mentioned for potential moves in the report.

Meanwhile, ESPN FC report Real Madrid president Florentino Perez has told coach Zinedine Zidane that it will be very difficult to sign Pogba this close season.

 

ROUND-UP

- Barcelona are still trying to find a way to bring Neymar back to Camp Nou from Paris Saint-Germain. According to Sky Germany, Barca are offering €100million plus two players, having given PSG a list of six that includes Philippe Coutinho, Ousmane Dembele, Ivan Rakitic, Nelson Semedo and Malcom. That is up from the earlier offer of €40m plus two players. According to Sport, Barca have made Coutinho and Rakitic priorities to be sold.

- After being linked to Bayern Munich, Callum Hudson-Odoi is set to re-sign with Chelsea. The Daily Mail report the 18-year-old England international will sign a five-year deal worth more than £100,000 per week to stay at Stamford Bridge.

- Giovani Lo Celso apparently wants to join Tottenham, but Spurs are unwilling to meet Real Betis' £60m (€66.8m) asking price, according to The Sun, who say Erik Lamela could be added into a deal. Danny Rose could also reportedly leave Spurs and Sky Sports say PSG are interested in the left-back.

- Arsenal have beaten their north London rivals to the signing of Saint-Etienne defender William Saliba, according to ESPN FC. Arsenal will complete the signing of Saliba for £26.9m (€30m) and loan him back to the Ligue 1 club despite late interest from Spurs, the report says.

- Another reported Arsenal target, Wilfried Zaha, has told Crystal Palace he wants to leave, according to The Sun. Arsenal have reportedly had a £40m bid for the attacker rejected.

- Bayern Munich are ready to meet Celta Vigo midfielder Brais Mendez's €25m release clause, according to Kicker. Mendez, 22, was handed a Spain debut late last year and scored six goals while providing seven assists for Celta in LaLiga in 2018-19.

Neymar appears to be on thin ice at Paris Saint-Germain.

PSG president Nasser Al-Khelaifi warned he will not tolerate any "celebrity behaviour" from players.

And the Brazil star could be set to pay the price for his lavish ways in the French capital.

 

TOP STORY – PSG PREPARED TO PART WITH NEYMAR

If you can stump up €222million or more, Neymar could be yours.

According to L'Equipe, Ligue 1 champions Paris Saint-Germain are willing to sell their world-record signing.

Neymar – who is recovering from an ankle injury that forced him out of Brazil's Copa America campaign – arrived from Barcelona for a world-record fee in 2017.

And the 27-year-old continues to be linked with a return to LaLiga with former club Barcelona or their great rivals Real Madrid.

 

ROUND-UP

- The Standard says Paul Pogba has been told he will not be sold by Manchester United, despite the Frenchman publicly stating his desire to seek a challenge elsewhere. Pogba has been linked to Real Madrid and a return to Juventus.

- Juventus have not given up on signing in-demand Ajax captain Matthijs de Ligt, according to Tuttosport. PSG are believed to be favourites but Juve vice-president Pavel Nedved is set to meet with agent Mino Raiola.

- Barcelona midfielder Arturo Vidal reportedly has an offer from the Chinese Super League, according to soccerlink.fr. The arrival of Frenkie de Jong from Ajax could spell the end of the Chilean's career at Camp Nou.

- L'Equipe says Arsenal have moved closer to signing 18-year-old Saint-Etienne defender William Saliba. The Teenager has reportedly agreed a five-year contract in London.

- Ligue 1 side Lyon have opened talks to sign Filipe Luis from Atletico Madrid, according to L'Equipe. The Brazil international full-back's contract expires at the end of June and he has been linked to Barcelona.

- With Maurizio Sarri confirmed as Juventus head coach, the Italian champions are set to target Inter outcast Mauro Icardi and Lazio midfielder Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, according to Corriere dello Sport.

Paris Saint-Germain host Nimes in the first game of their title defence when the 2019-20 Ligue 1 season gets under way.

Thomas Tuchel's side - who are seeking a third straight title in France - then face Rennes, Toulouse and Metz in their other August fixtures.

Marseille's first league game under new coach Andre Villas-Boas comes at home to Reims. The first Classique of the season is hosted by PSG in October and the return game is set for late March.

Lille finished a distant second to PSG last term and their season starts at home to Nantes with games against Amiens, Saint-Etienne and Reims following in the opening month. PSG host Lille in November and the reverse fixture is set for January.

Monaco, who narrowly secured survival after the return of Leonardo Jardim following Thierry Henry's short spell in charge, are at home to Lyon on the opening weekend, when Ligue 2 winners Metz will be at Strasbourg.

After securing a return to the top flight alongside Metz, Brest will be at home to Toulouse first up with Nice versus Amiens and Angers hosting Bordeaux among the other opening fixtures. 

Dijon, who beat Lens in a play-off to stave off relegation, are at home to Saint-Etienne with the round completed by Montpellier hosting Rennes.

Ligue 1 2019-20 opening round in full:

Dijon v Saint-Etienne
Marseille v Reims
Nice v Amiens
Strasbourg v Metz
Montpellier v Rennes
Angers v Bordeaux
Lille v Nantes
PSG v Nimes
Brest v Toulouse
Monaco v Lyon

Ligue 1 side Saint-Etienne have announced the appointment of Ghislain Printant as their new head coach.

The 58-year-old has been handed a deal that runs through until 2021 and succeeds Jean-Louis Gasset, who he worked under as an assistant last season.

Gasset had been in charge of Saint-Etienne since December 2017 but he stepped down after guiding his side to a fourth-place finish in Ligue 1.

Saint-Etienne have opted for continuity by promoting Printant, and the former Bastia boss is ready for the challenge ahead as the Stade Geoffroy-Guichard gears up for the return of European football.

"I feel a great sense of pride and I thank the leaders for their trust," he told the club's official website. "I have the ambition and energy to continue all the work put in place for 18 months with Jean-Louis Gasset. 

"Saint-Etienne is one of the biggest French clubs and we have succeeded in moving the club back to its level from a lot of work on and off the pitch.

"I hope to meet the expectations of my bosses and the supporters, and I will do everything I can to relive exceptional moments like those we experienced a few weeks ago by qualifying for the Europa League in front of our wonderful fans."

Thomas Tuchel praised Paris Saint-Germain's character after the Ligue 1 champions rounded off a triumphant week with a hard-fought 1-0 win over Saint-Etienne.

PSG put a significant marker down in the Champions League as they beat Manchester United 2-0 at Old Trafford in the first leg of a last-16 tie they tackled without star forwards Neymar and Edinson Cavani.

As his did in midweek, Kylian Mbappe stepped up impressively in their absence 17 minutes from time at Stade Geoffroy-Guichard – volleying a brilliant 73rd-minute winner.

"I am very happy because I knew very well that it was very difficult to play at Saint-Etienne," Tuchel told reporters after his team extended their seemingly unassailable lead at the top of Ligue 1 to 12 points.

"My team showed an exceptional mentality. We accepted all the circumstances. 

"We defended with great intensity and vigilance. We accepted that it was a difficult match. I am very happy. 

"We have been patient, the victory is deserved."

On Mbappe, whose 18th Ligue 1 appearance this term produced his 19th top-flight goal of the campaign, Tuchel added: "He shows his quality every day in training, he has this hunger to score, score, score. 

"It's his quality - he is a special player. 

"Everyone was tired after Manchester United, physically but also mentally. It was necessary to control the game, to play focused. 

"We showed the mentality to have the victory."

Kylian Mbappe chose to focus upon Paris Saint-Germain's collective after his stunning winner at Saint-Etienne broke new ground.

Mbappe netted the only goal of an otherwise forgettable contest in sublime fashion, swivelling to volley Dani Alves' lofted pass into the top left corner after 73 minutes.

It was Mbappe's 19th goal in 18 Ligue 1 appearances this season – making him the first player to have such a prolific return for 45 years.

Another increasingly recognisable feature of the performance was PSG's shape-shifting under Thomas Tuchel, as Marquinhos returned to centre-back and Juan Bernat tackled an unfamiliar midfield role.

As such, Mbappe hailed a team triumph on Sunday.

"We played against a good team, especially at home," he told Canal+.

"Few teams will come here to win, we did it. We are happy and we leave with the three points. 

"We must continue and aim as high as possible. My stats are good, but the team is better."

It left Saint-Etienne boss Jean-Louis Gasset to shower praise upon a player he feels will soon stand above them all.

"Paris respected us because it was practically the same team that played against Manchester United," Gasset told reporters, having seen Tuchel make three alterations from the side that triumphed at Old Trafford.

"We decided to defend low and try to counter if we could. We lost on a goal that came from elsewhere - a 20-year-old, who will soon be the best player in the world. 

"He's going to be the best player in the world in two or three years if he continues like that."

Paris Saint-Germain star Kylian Mbappe continues to make history in Ligue 1.

Mbappe, 20, scored a wonderful second-half volley to see PSG overcome Saint-Etienne 1-0 on Sunday.

He became the first French player to score 19 goals in his first 18 games of a Ligue 1 season over the last 45 years as he continued his tremendous campaign.

Mbappe's 19 goals are also the most in the top five leagues this season among players who have not scored a penalty.

PSG's win moved them 12 points clear atop the Ligue 1 table.

A moment of magic from Kylian Mbappe gave Paris Saint-Germain a hard-fought 1-0 win at Saint-Etienne in Ligue 1.

The reigning champions and runaway leaders bounced back from a 2-1 loss to Lyon at the start of the month by beating Bordeaux 1-0 last weekend, however, Thomas Tuchel's team were short of their best once more at Stade Geoffroy Guichard.

Mbappe dazzled in the 2-0 Champions League win over Manchester United on Tuesday but found the going tougher in a line-up without the considerable talents of Neymar, Edinson Cavani, Marco Verratti and Thomas Meunier.

Yet he settled matters with aplomb in the 73rd minute, swivelling to guide Dani Alves's lofted pass into the top corner on the volley.

It was the act of a player a class apart from the rest – much like PSG, who are 12 points ahead of Lille at the summit with two games in hand.

The same combination that undid United in midweek were to the fore again, with Angel Di Maria storming forward on the break in the 20th minute to play in Mbappe, whose shot was beaten away at the near post by Stephane Ruffier.

Mbappe felt the effects of a robust challenge from Romain Hamouma, who had a shot blocked by PSG captain Thiago Silva late in the first half after Thilo Kehrer's misjudged headed clearance.

Ruffier smothered a shot from Julian Draxler at close quarters in the 55th minute, Di Maria and Mbappe having combined on the end of Marquinhos' excellent raking pass.

Juan Bernat's replacement Colin Dagba was quickly into the action with a last-ditch challenge to deny Saint-Etienne wing-back Gabriel Silva, with Kevin Monnet-Paquet going close from the resulting 63rd-minute corner.

Di Maria should have done better when he skewed wide two minutes later, leaving Mbappe to majestically show him how it was done.

He showed a more pragmatic side as he joined substitute Layvin Kurzawa in being booked for kicking the ball away in stoppage time -  PSG closing out a result that denied Saint-Etienne a move into the top four.


What does it mean? Any team in the world would miss Neymar

PSG's wonderfully composed win over Manchester United won deserved plaudits but this grasping and increasingly forced performance underlined that victory at Old Trafford came despite the absence of their star forward and not because of it.

Cavani's return will also be welcomed as centre-forward duties weighed a little heavily on the mercurial Mbappe until he produced another picturebook moment in a career already stuffed with them.

Masterful from Marquinhos

The Brazil international's shackling of Paul Pobga at Old Trafford underlined how swiftly he has developed from emergency midfield option to a dependable holding player in his own right. Marquinhos was back in his natural centre-back role here, unfurling a wonderful range of passing and appearing the coolest under pressure as the hosts launched their second-half forays. A Rolls Royce of a player.

Close shave for Bernat

The willingness of PSG's players to undertake unfamiliar roles and operate with flexible tactics has been a symbol of their development under Tuchel. Bernat started sharply enough on the left of a midfield three but was found wanting when a rare opening fell his way in the box. After his booking for fouling Mathieu Debuchy early in the second half, a 56th-minute challenge on Timothee Kolodziejczak was, at best, ill-advised and Tuchel had seen enough.

What's next

PSG tackle their rescheduled Ligue 1 home game against Montpellier on Wednesday – the first of three games in the space of six days at the Parc des Princes. Saint-Etienne travel to Dijon on Friday.

Thomas Tuchel offered no update on the condition of Neymar or Edinson Cavani ahead of Paris Saint-Germain's clash with Saint-Etienne but confirmed Thomas Meunier and Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting would miss the game amid mounting injury problems.

Right-back Meunier missed PSG's 2-0 victory over Manchester United in the Champions League following a head injury he sustained against Bordeaux three days earlier, and Tuchel said Cameroon international Choupo-Moting has been taken ill.

With Cavani sidelined by a hip injury and Neymar recovering from a damaged metatarsal, Tuchel said he is keeping a close eye on Marco Verratti and Presnel Kimpembe, who have both been dogged by injuries in recent weeks.

"Thomas Meunier will not be available tomorrow, nor Choupo-Moting because of illness," Tuchel told reporters.

"The other players will be present but we need to be attentive to the old injuries of Verratti and Kimpembe.

"There is no news for Cavani and Neymar."

Tuchel was in upbeat mood despite the fitness concerns, and he picked out Kimpembe for praise along with Brazilian midfielder Marquinhos who deputised in midfield at Old Trafford.

Full-backs Thilo Kehrer and Juan Bernat were also credited for their part in extending the champions winning run to three consecutive matches in all competitions.

"Thilo Kehrer and Juan Bernat are doing a great job," said Tuchel. "They deserve to play.

"Presnel Kimpembe has everything to become one of the best defenders in Europe.

"Marquinhos is very good in the middle, as in defence. He is an incredible player who must and always wants to improve.

"I am happy that we are able to play as a team. Whether in the Champions League or Ligue 1."

Nantes paid tribute to their missing former player Emiliano Sala with a centre-circle cover showing his face ahead of their rearranged Ligue 1 match against Saint-Etienne.

Guernsey Police on Thursday ceased looking for Sala, who was aboard a Piper Malibu aircraft with pilot David Ibbotson when the plane went missing over the English Channel en route to Cardiff from Nantes on January 21.

Sala completed a transfer to Cardiff City the weekend before and had been back in France bidding farewell to his colleagues at Nantes.

Nine days on, authorities believe the only trace of the aircraft they have found are two seat cushions which were discovered on Monday.

After hearing of Sala's disappearance, Nantes' match against Saint-Etienne was pushed back four days to Wednesday, and Nantes arranged for multiple tributes on an emotional day.

Nantes players took to the pitch with jerseys all bearing Sala's name, as well as the message "animo Emi", before standing in front of a centre-circle cover showing the striker's face.

In the dressing room, the club hung up a shirt also bearing a photo of Sala in the place he would have usually prepared himself.

Visitors Saint-Etienne wore "pray for Sala" jerseys during their warm-up.

Supporters then unfurled a huge tifo depicting Sala just prior to kick-off, starting the match with a rousing rendition of his name.

And the referee stopped play as the clock showed nine minutes, allowing for the players to take part in an emotional minute's applause for the striker who wore No.9.

The tributes came a day after Sala was honoured at the Emirates Stadium, where Cardiff faced Arsenal in their first match since the aircraft went missing.

Cardiff's staff and fans wore daffodils, with the flowers also handed out alongside the official matchday programme, which listed Sala as part of the Welsh side's squad.

Club chief executive Ken Choo explained the use of the daffodil last Friday, highlighting its significance for both Wales and Nantes – the latter of whom wear yellow.

Five Ligue 1 fixtures, including those of champions Paris Saint-Germain and Marseille, have been called off due to anticipated riots in France.

Two more Ligue 1 fixtures have been postponed due to the ongoing civil unrest in France, the league have confirmed.

Thomas Tuchel revealed that Bayern Munich made an approach for his services before he joined Paris Saint-Germain but said that his mind was already made up to leave Germany. 

Thomas Tuchel has not decided his Paris Saint-Germain team to face Liverpool in the Champions League, with one place still up for grabs. 

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