Lionel Messi looks set to leave Barcelona and a select few clubs are preparing to make a move.

Manchester City? Paris Saint-Germain? Inter?

Keep an eye on this saga…

 

TOP STORY – PSG TALKING TO MESSI

Paris Saint-Germain have opened talks with wantaway Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi, according to Ole.

Messi has handed in a transfer request at Barca, and the six-time Ballon d'Or winner has already been linked with Manchester City, Manchester United, Inter, Juventus and PSG.

The frontpage of Thursday's Mundo Deportivo claims City are circling to bring Messi to the Premier League with the 33-year-old believed to be keen on reuniting with former Barca boss Pep Guardiola. Meanwhile, Marca claims City have offered a three-year deal.

However, Ligue 1 champions PSG are also eyeing Messi as they look to add him to a squad that already boasts former team-mate Neymar and Kylian Mbappe.

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- Fabrizio Romano reports Inter have re-opened talks with Barca for midfielder Arturo Vidal. Antonio Conte, who will remain Inter head coach in 2020-21, wants to bring the Chilean to San Siro.

- It comes as Gazzetta dello Sport reports Inter have struck a deal to sign Brescia star Sandro Tonali. Milan have also been eyeing the Italy midfielder.

- Serie A champions Juventus are set to sign Schalke midfielder Weston McKennie, says Sky Sport Italia. The United States international is poised to arrive on loan with the option to buy. Juve have also been linked with Sassuolo's Manuel Locatelli.

Manchester United are still chasing Aston Villa captain Jack Grealish, according to the Daily Mail. Borussia Dortmund star Jadon Sancho has been United's top priority, though the Red Devils remain in contact with Villa over a potential transfer.

- Sport Bild says Liverpool will make an approach for Bayern Munich midfielder Thiago Alcantara in the coming days.

Milan are poised to sign Real Madrid's Brahim Diaz on loan, reports Gianluca Di Marzio. Brahim has struggled for game time since arriving from City in 2019.

- Signing Lazio star Sergej Milinkovic-Savic is a priority for PSG, claims Le10 Sport. The Serbia international has previously been linked with Madrid, United, Juve, Inter and Chelsea.

Lionel Messi wants to leave Barcelona and Cesar Luis Menotti would like to see him play for Manchester City or Bayern Munich.

Six-time Ballon d'Or winner Messi told Barca on Tuesday he wants to leave and it is believed he intends to use a clause in his contract that allows him to terminate their agreement following the 2019-20 season.

City, where former Barca boss Pep Guardiola is in charge, Paris Saint-Germain and Inter have been touted as potential next destinations for the 33-year-old.

The Catalan giants have expressed a desire to keep Messi at Camp Nou, but Menotti, who led Argentina to World Cup glory in 1978 and coached Barca between 1983 and 1984, would not be averse to seeing him play elsewhere.

"I have not spoken with him, he must be deciding the issue [of his future]," Menotti told TNT Sports.

"From what I hear, there could also be legal action. It is the first time that I have seen a conflict of this type with a footballer who has given Barcelona more than anyone in its history.

"If you ask me which team I want him to play for, I would like him to play at Bayern Munich, or with Pep as they know each other and have won so many things.

"But is not easy for a family like his to live in Manchester or Munich. Any big team with aspirations will find in Messi a footballer in a very good moment. He's had no injuries, he always took care of himself."

Manchester City have refused to comment on reports linking them with wantaway Barcelona star Lionel Messi.

Messi sent shockwaves through world football when he informed Barca via burofax on Tuesday that he wanted to leave, putting several clubs on high alert.

A reunion with Pep Guardiola at City has been mooted, but the club declined to comment when contacted by Stats Perform News. It is believed they do not want to take a public position on such a high-profile story.

Guardiola has previously stated his belief that Messi would, and indeed should, see out his career at Camp Nou, where he is the all-time leading goalscorer.

"He is a player from Barcelona and he will stay there, that's my wish for him to stay there," he said in February.

"I'm not going to talk about players playing for other clubs. I think he will finish his career there, that's my wish."

However, the notion that Guardiola would turn down the chance to sign arguably the world's greatest player following a season in which his side lost out to Liverpool in the Premier League, and again failed in the Champions League, seems absurd.

With his reputation at Barca still firmly intact following a fine playing career and a spell at the helm during which the club were twice crowned champions of Europe, Guardiola will not want to be seen to be actively pursuing Messi.

That would explain any outward reticence, but it is unlikely the Etihad Stadium club would not be considering an approach.

Chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak has only recently outlined a new transfer policy expanding the club's search beyond the usual age range of 20- to 25-year-olds, putting a 33-year-old Messi firmly on the agenda.

City are not the only club to have been linked to Messi, with Champions League runners-up and fellow financial heavyweights Paris Saint-Germain said to be in the mix, along with Inter.

Staying at Barca remains an option, but Messi is clearly unhappy and there has been no indication that Josep Maria Bartomeu is willing to step aside, with the president having overseen a staffing overhaul that brought Ronald Koeman to the helm this month.

Quite what the Dutchman will be making of this transfer saga in the early days of his reign is anyone's guess.

With or without Messi, Koeman has a rebuilding job on his hands, the scale of which was underlined by Barca's humiliating 8-2 Champions League loss to Bayern Munich, a result that probably hastened the talisman's decision to send that now famous fax.

Lionel Messi wants to leave Barcelona, but where will he go?

Manchester United, Manchester City, Paris Saint-Germain, Inter and Juventus are possible destinations.

But, both Manchester clubs are believed to be targeting the six-time Ballon d'Or winner.

 

TOP STORY – UNITED EYE MESSI, BUT LIONEL WANTS CITY

Manchester United are in position to sign wantaway Barcelona captain Lionel Messi, according to Deportes Cuatro.

Messi wants to sensationally leave embattled LaLiga giants Barca and United are reportedly one of the clubs capable of signing the six-time Ballon d'Or winner.

However, The Athletic claims neighbours Manchester City and Messi have held talks, with the superstar open to playing for Pep Guardiola again.

Paris Saint-Germain, Inter and Juventus have also been linked.

 

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- The Telegraph reports Real Madrid outcast James Rodriguez is close to joining Everton. James has previously worked under Carlo Ancelotti at Bayern Munich and Madrid.

Chelsea will complete the signing of Leicester City full-back Ben Chilwell, says Fabrizio Romano. The transfer will be announced soon as Chelsea also look to bring in Bayer Leverkusen star Kai Havertz and PSG captain Thiago Silva.

- Calciomercato claims Zlatan Ibrahimovic is close to signing a new deal with Milan. The 38-year-old is out of contract after returning to Milan for a second spell in January.

Barca want City's Gabriel Jesus to replace veteran forward Luis Suarez, according to Globo Esporte. Suarez has been told he can leave Camp Nou, and former club Ajax are reportedly trying to re-sign the Uruguayan.

Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis said Manchester United, Manchester City or Paris Saint-Germain should answer questions regarding star defender Kalidou Koulibaly.

Koulibaly has been heavily linked with a move to City, while Premier League rivals United and Ligue 1 champions PSG have also been touted as possible destinations.

The future of the Senegal international has dominated headlines, with Napoli reportedly looking to raise funds in their pursuit of Gabriel Magalhaes, though the Lille defender appears set for Arsenal.

Asked about Koulibaly, De Laurentiis deflected questions on Tuesday.

"You should ask Manchester United, City or PSG this question," he said. "In other words, those who can afford to pay certain amounts."

With midfielder Allan also in demand, De Laurentiis added: "I see many buzzards on the transfers market. You know who they are, they seem to be waiting to swoop in, but we have impenetrable armour and they won't get what they want or at the prices they want."

Koulibaly has established himself as one of the world's best defenders since joining Napoli from Genk in 2014.

The 29-year-old has helped Napoli to Coppa Italia (2019-20) and Supercoppa Italia (2014) glory.

Koulibaly made 25 Serie A appearances as Gennaro Gattuso's Napoli finished seventh in 2019-20, while they trumped Juventus in the Coppa Italia final.

Lionel Messi has told Barcelona he wants to leave, setting in motion a move that will rank as one of the most seismic in the history of football.

Barca's surrender to Real Madrid in LaLiga's title race and the 8-2 thrashing at the hands of Bayern Munich in the Champions League proved the final straw for Messi.

A meeting with new head coach Ronald Koeman last week was not enough to convince the six-time Ballon d'Or winner to remain at Camp Nou.

We consider what Messi's next destination could be.

Newell's Old Boys

Messi's relationship with the public in Argentina has often been strained due to the fact he moved to Barca at the age of 13 and was moulded in their famous La Masia academy. But he started out at Newell's five years prior to that and a return to his hometown of Rosario would be an understandable move as he enters the latter stages of his career.

Manchester City

While the 2019-20 season may have been a disappointment, Messi undoubtedly still has the quality to play at the highest level. City, managed by former Barca boss Pep Guardiola, are said to be looking into the feasibility of bringing the Argentina superstar to the Etihad Stadium, having in July won their appeal against a two-year Champions League ban for breaches of Financial Fair Play regulations.

Paris Saint-Germain

"Which coach says no to Messi?" said PSG boss Thomas Tuchel following their Champions League final defeat to Bayern on Sunday. The Ligue 1 champions have never shied away from splashing the cash – they paid Barca a world record €222million for Neymar and shelled out €180m on Kylian Mbappe. If Messi wants to win another Champions League title before retiring, few clubs are better positioned to help him achieve that.

Inter

Even before there was any doubt about Messi's future at Barca, Inter were the main club linked with an audacious attempt to sign the 33-year-old. The Suning Holdings Group ownership makes them one of the few clubs alongside City and PSG that have the financial capacity to offer him a sizeable contract, and they have secured a return to Champions League football next season. The chance to battle old foe Cristiano Ronaldo in Serie A could prove an enticing prospect too.

Inter Miami

They may be bottom of the Eastern Conference in their debut MLS season, but Inter Miami still have a designated player spot free and there could be no bigger name to fill it than Messi. Club owner David Beckham said in February of this year he would relish the chance to sign a player of the calibre of Messi or Ronaldo.

Al-Sadd

Things could have gone very differently for Barca had club legend Xavi been handed the reins in January. A link-up with his former team-mate in Qatar could be an option for Messi, though there is every chance former midfielder Xavi finds himself back at Camp Nou in the not too distant future.

Manchester City are reportedly looking at signing Lionel Messi, while Barcelona's rebuild does not include Luis Suarez.

Messi, 33, has been linked with a move away from the LaLiga giants after a trophy-less 2019-20 season.

Barca are preparing for a rebuild and while Messi is part of their plans, Suarez is seemingly not.

 

TOP STORY – MAN CITY CONSIDER MESSI MOVE

Manchester City are working out if they would be able to sign Barcelona star Messi without breaching Financial Fair Play (FFP) rules, according to ESPN.

The report says the Premier League giants are preparing should Messi become available.

Messi is contracted at Barcelona until 2021, but has been linked with a move.

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- Also at Barcelona, Ronald Koeman is preparing his rebuild. Mundo Deportivo reports the club no longer want Luis Suarez, Ivan Rakitic, Arturo Vidal or Samuel Umtiti, but have plans for Philippe Coutinho, Sergio Busquets and Jordi Alba. The report also says Suarez's departure will open up a move for Inter star Lautaro Martinez.

- Ansu Fati is seemingly close to committing his future to Barcelona. The 17-year-old forward, who has been linked to Manchester United, will sign a new deal that will include a €400million release clause, according to Mundo Deportivo.

- A former Bianconeri striker could help Juventus land Edin Dzeko. Tuttosport reports Mario Mandzukic could join Roma as a replacement for Dzeko, who is being linked to Juve.

- Milan are reportedly looking at Brahim Diaz. Fabrizio Romano reports the Serie A giants have opened talks with Real Madrid about a loan move, with an option to buy, for Brahim.

- Hector Bellerin has been linked with a move away from Arsenal. RMC Sport reports the defender has been offered to Paris Saint-Germain.

- Also at PSG, Leandro Paredes could make a move. Gianluca Di Marzio says Juventus are interested in the midfielder.

Manchester City chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak has confirmed the club intends to bring in further transfer market reinforcements as they aim to take back the Premier League title from Liverpool.

Pep Guardiola's side were unable to make it three domestic titles in a row in 2019-20, falling well short of a dominant Liverpool, who ended 18 points clear of second-placed City.

Winger Ferran Torres and defender Nathan Ake have already arrived at the Etihad Stadium from Valencia and Bournemouth respectively, for a combined outlay in excess of £60million.

Speaking to his club's official website, Khaldoon said City would seek to strengthen further and would not limit themselves to younger players if readymade, experienced performers are what Guardiola requires.

"When it comes to the two acquisitions we've made – Ake and Ferran Torres – we moved quickly and clearly," he said. "These were our targets and when the opportunity came we were able to come in very quickly and swiftly and do that business

"There are additional players that we will be bringing in and we will stick to the plan, within the realities of the market that we live in today.

"If you look at the acquisitions we've made over the past couple of years, there's a consistency in terms of the type of player we've targeted – their age and quality.

"We will continue down that road for the first team in that 20-25 years old category. That's kind of the spot we like.

"But, at the same time, sometimes opportunities come up that fit with what the manager wants and what we need for the squad that might be outside of that box.

"Nothing is set in stone. We have a set of targets who are well defined but, at the same time we're pragmatic enough to take the opportunity if that opportunity comes up."

Those words chime with City being persistently linked to a move for Napoli's 29-year-old centre-back Kalidou Koulibaly, even if it might a stretch to associate them with Lionel Messi, 33, and his apparent unrest at Barcelona.

Guardiola has been variously linked with further reinforcements in attack, central midfield and at left-back as City pick over a campaign that ended with their lacklustre 3-1 Champions League quarter-final defeat to Lyon.

Khaldoon noted their failure to make an impression on the final stages of the tournament in Lisbon amounted to a significant opportunity missed.

"Me and Pep have something very important in common – we both hate losing and we don't take it lightly," he said of Champions League glory continuing to elude his club.

"On this, we have the same level of disappointment. We had a great opportunity this year, the same as the last couple of years.

"When it comes to the Champions League it is always challenging. It boils down to two games or, in the case of this season, one game and you have to deliver.

"We are upset with that result because we knew it was a great opportunity to go to the semi-finals and a great opportunity to actually win this competition.

"We have to be able to look back at this season, take the learnings, go back to the drawing board and make sure we are ready next year to give it another shot."

Manchester City full-back Oleksandr Zinchenko has distanced himself from his wife's criticism of manager Pep Guardiola, insisting Vlada Sedan was speaking as a fan and not a journalist.

Sedan is a sports reporter in her native Ukraine and posted a scathing assessment of Guardiola's much-criticised tactics during City's 3-1 Champions League quarter-final loss to Lyon on her YouTube channel.

City lined up in a 5-3-2 formation to match up with their French opponents, a departure from Guardiola's usual variations on a 4-3-3, while attacking options such as Phil Foden and Bernardo Silva remained as unused substitutes alongside Zinchenko when Moussa Dembele's late brace took the game away from the Premier League side.

“Perhaps I have no right to say this, and perhaps Zinchenko will forbid me. But to put it mildly, in order not to swear, this is completely Guardiola's fault," Sedan said.

"At such a crucial moment, using such an experimental tactic for City was a bummer. I have no right to criticise, but why play three central defenders?

"I simply have no words because to have such a line-up... look at the players City have, what a bench. Literally only a few clubs in the world can boast having such players at substitutes.”

Zinchenko, who also appeared in the video, took time out from the couple's wedding celebrations to post a statement on his Instagram story, insisting he still holds Guardiola in the highest regard.

"Guys, I need to say a few things about this interview," it read.

"First of all, I didn't say anything bad or judgemental about our tactics, so don't confuse my words, please.

"I was explaining that we as players understand the effect tactics have and how, given we have such great experience, we can adapt to the tactics we are given.

"On the night, we lost to Lyon but that doesn't mean the manager was wrong to try.

"If you have seen my interviews in the past and the way I talk about our manager then you can believe me. He is number one."

He added: "Second one, about my wife. Although she is a journalist, she is also a fan. During all the season she was travelling with us for all away and home games because she is a massive City fan.

"In the video, you can see her emotions straight after the game and she gave an opinion like all fans do because she wanted us to do better.

"We totally understand now that she shouldn't post it in the social media because she is my wife, but she was not trying to make a journalist's opinion on the manager of the team, she was simply reacting to her disappointment as a fan."

Signed as a midfielder from FC Ufa in 2016, Zinchenko established himself as a surprise first-team fixture under Guardiola after an unsuccessful loan at PSV.

He made 29 appearances in 2018-19, concluding the season as first-choice at left-back as City won an unprecedented domestic treble.

The 23-year-old found the going tougher last term as Benjamin Mendy returned to regular fitness and he failed to start any of City's final five Premier League games, with right-back Joao Cancelo preferred on the left-hand side of defence against Real Madrid and Lyon.

Angelino's return from a successful loan at RB Leipzig, which has attracted interest from Barcelona, could further complicate matters at left-back.

Barcelona have expressed an interest in Manchester City full-back Angelino, with the Premier League club setting a €30million (£27.7m) asking price.

Angelino re-joined City from PSV last year when a £5.3million buyback option was exercised but he struggled to establish himself under Pep Guardiola.

The 23-year-old made 12 appearance in all competitions, starting the Premier League defeats against Liverpool and Manchester United before signing for RB Leipzig on loan in January.

He impressed as Julian Nagelsmann's side reached the semi-finals of the Champions League, with those displays attracting the attention of Barcelona and their newly installed head coach Ronald Koeman.

Stats Perform News understands City are holding firm on their valuation of Angelino, which could prove prohibitive to Leipzig.

The Bundesliga side have an option on the player but it is non-exclusive.

"I'm very confident that we can reach an agreement with Manchester City, now that both clubs are out of the Champions League and the focus is no longer on the tournament," Nagelsmann told Bild.

"'Angel' is a very interesting player for us and he wants to stay with us."

It remains a possibility that Angelino could contest a first-team place at the Etihad Stadium next season, with left-back remaining a problem position for Guardiola.

Benjamin Mendy is still rebuilding form and confidence having undergone two bouts of knee surgery since his £52million move from Monaco in 2017, while Oleksandr Zinchenko fell out of favour last term.

Mendy and Zinchenko were both on the bench as Joao Cancelo started at left wing-back during last weekend's 3-1 Champions League quarter-final loss to Lyon.

Angelino is not the only City defender to have won admiring glances from Catalonia.

Eric Garcia has been widely linked with a return to his boyhood club, with Guardiola stating earlier this month the teenage centre-back had opted against a renewed deal in Manchester.

"He announced to us that he doesn't want to extend his contract with Manchester City," Guardiola said.

"He has one more year and after that, he doesn't want to extend. We want it but he doesn't want to, so I imagine he wants to play in another place."

Barcelona are not considering an exit for Lionel Messi as a decision on the star's future nears.

Messi, 33, has been linked with a move away from the LaLiga giants after a trophy-less 2019-20 season.

But the star may yet remain at Barcelona.

 

TOP STORY – BARCELONA NOT CONSIDERING MESSI EXIT

Messi's rumoured departure from Camp Nou is not on the agenda at all for Barca, according to Mundo Deportivo.

The cover of the Spanish daily reads: "Untransferable".

Messi is contracted at Barcelona until 2021 and Sport reports a decision on his future is expected in the next few days, with the club beginning pre-season training on August 30.

The six-time Ballon d'Or winner reportedly considers an exit difficult due to his €700million release clause.

 

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- Another player who has been linked to Barcelona is Lautaro Martinez, but the Inter star could head elsewhere. The Sun reports Martinez is Manchester City's number one target.

- Chelsea may be getting closer to strengthening their defence. The Premier League giants are close to agreeing a £50m deal for Leicester City left-back Ben Chilwell, according to The Athletic. Meanwhile, Goal reports Chelsea have been offered Paris Saint-Germain centre-back Thiago Silva on a free transfer.

- At Manchester United, the talk has been around adding firepower in attack. The Manchester Evening News reports Lyon forward Moussa Dembele is not ruling out a move this close season, having been linked to United previously.

- More changes are expected at Juventus. Fabrizio Romano reports the Serie A champions want to terminate the contracts of Gonzalo Higuain and Sami Khedira, who both have a year left to run on their deals.

- Benjamin Pavard has impressed for Bayern Munich, leading to interest from his homeland. L'Equipe reports Paris Saint-Germain are interested in the France international defender.

- Linked with a move away from Tottenham, Serge Aurier could head to Italy. La Gazzetta dello Sport reports Milan want the right-back.

Manchester City players could be suffering psychologically from their latest Champions League exit, former midfielder Yaya Toure says.

Eight days on from a 2-1 win over Real Madrid that secured a 4-2 aggregate victory in the last 16, Pep Guardiola's side were stunned 3-1 by Lyon, who finished seventh in Ligue 1 last season.

Guardiola has led City to six major domestic trophies since 2016, including two Premier League titles, but he has never gone beyond the last eight in Europe in that time.

Indeed, despite their significant Abu Dhabi-backed investment in the playing squad, they have only reached the semi-finals of Europe's elite competition once - in 2016, under Manuel Pellegrini.

Toure, a Champions League winner under Guardiola at Barcelona in 2009 before joining City, thinks the continued disappointment in the tournament could start to take its toll.

"In Europe, all the clubs are vicious. Other clubs are very good, and clever," he told Sky Sports.

"This competition is hard. Psychologically, it can affect you. When you keep on losing, losing, any team can beat you.

"In the Champions League, you saw RB Leipzig beating Atletico Madrid, that was a shock for people because football now is so unpredictable. When those teams came, they just put everything on it. They want to win, 100 per cent.

"Of course, maybe City against Lyon, the way they were playing in the beginning [did not help], but after that, you have to give credit to Lyon as well. They got it spot on, and they knocked City out."

Guardiola was criticised in some quarters for his tactical approach, choosing to match Lyon's 3-5-2 and leaving a host of attacking players on the bench, but Toure thinks the French side deserve some credit.

"Of course, Lyon played well, they were well organised, but I don't think City changed much," he said. "People have talked about his tactics, but the team always have to play the same way. It's just Lyon caused them problems, defended well and caught them on the counter-attack.

"We were all shocked when City lost to Lyon. For all the fans who were thinking it was the season City would win.

"You have to only play one-off games, thinking it would be an easy one with playing against Lyon rather than Juventus, and people were shocked. But you have to admit that Lyon played very well, they were very well prepared."

Excitement is building for the new Premier League season after the 2020-21 fixtures were announced on Thursday.

Liverpool begin the defence of their first top-flight title in 30 years with a home match against promoted Leeds United, who will play at the highest level for the first time since 2004.

The two Manchester clubs will not be playing on the opening weekend due to their recent European commitments, but the other top sides are in action as Arsenal play at Fulham, Chelsea travel to Brighton and Hove Albion, while Tottenham will host Everton.

With the help of Opta data, here are some of the most interesting stats ahead of the first weekend of the season, which begins on September 12.

Mourinho magic – The Portuguese boss has managed 10 matches on the opening day of the Premier League season. He has a superb record having won nine and drawn the other.

Guardiola also shines – The Manchester City coach is the only active Premier League manager to have taken charge of more than two matchday one fixtures (four) and still have a 100 per cent record. He does not have a game on the first weekend of the season this year.

Defending champions – Liverpool will hope to follow in the footsteps of City, rather than other recent champions, on the opening day. City won all four of their opening matches after their title wins in the last decade, but Chelsea (twice) and Leicester City (once) failed to kick off their trophy defences with victory.

United we stand – Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side have the most opening day points in Premier League history. They have 61 from 28 games with a win rate of 67.9 per cent, and beat Chelsea 4-0 in their first match of last season.

Liverpool start well – Liverpool have the fewest defeats of any team to play more than 12 opening day games in the Premier League, losing just four from 28 (with 16 wins and eight draws).

But so do Leeds… – Although they have not been in the top-flight for 16 years, Leeds have impressively never lost their first match of a Premier League season, winning five and drawing seven of their 12 encounters.

Six appeal – The biggest win in a Premier League matchday one contest is Chelsea's 6-0 home victory over West Brom in 2010.

West Ham woe – David Moyes' side have the most defeats (13) of any team in a Premier League opener, though they also have 10 wins, meaning just one of their 24 games has ended in a draw.

Seeing red – Everton have had players sent off in each of the previous two opening matches they have played, with Phil Jagielka and Morgan Schneiderlin given their marching orders against Wolves and Crystal Palace respectively.

Fulham frustration – The promoted side have lost each of their past five Premier League matches against Arsenal, conceding nine goals in their two defeats against the Gunners the last time they were in the top-flight in 2018-19.

Super Spurs – As well has having Mourinho's strong record to bank on, Tottenham are unbeaten in each of their past 15 Premier League matches against Everton (W8 D7) since a 2-1 defeat back in December 2012 under Andre Villas-Boas.

Bogey team – Having lost heavily to United to kick off last season, Frank Lampard will be comforted by the fact Brighton have failed to win any of their six Premier League encounters with Chelsea, losing five times and scoring just two goals in the process (D1).

 

Arsenal are braced for a series of tough away games in the early stages of the new season after the Premier League fixtures were released on Thursday.

The 2020-21 season-opener involves a short trip across London for the Gunners, but after that visit to newly promoted Fulham, things are set to get markedly more difficult on the road.

Before October is out, Mikel Arteta's side will have visited Anfield, the Etihad Stadium and Old Trafford.

Fans will have to wait until December 5 for a chance to see if Arsenal can avenge their July defeat to Tottenham at their bitter rivals' stadium. The return match is not until March.

The club's opening home game is also a London derby, with West Ham the visitors, while Boxing Day will see Chelsea visit the Emirates.

Arteta led Arsenal to a disappointing eighth-placed finish last season, but the club did claim silverware by lifting the FA Cup.

Arsenal's fixtures in full:
September 12 - Fulham v Arsenal
September 19 - Arsenal v West Ham 
September 26 - Liverpool v Arsenal
October 3 - Arsenal v Sheffield United
October 17 - Manchester City v Arsenal
October 24 - Arsenal v Leicester City
October 31 - Manchester United v Arsenal
November 7 - Arsenal v Aston Villa
November 21 - Leeds United v Arsenal
November 28 - Arsenal v Wolves
December 5 - Tottenham v Arsenal
December 12 - Arsenal v Burnley
December 15 - Arsenal v Southampton
December 19 - Everton v Arsenal
December 26 - Arsenal v Chelsea
December 28 - Brighton v Arsenal
January 2 - West Brom v Arsenal
January 12 - Arsenal v Crystal Palace
January 16 - Arsenal v Newcastle United

-

January 27 - Southampton v Arsenal
January 30 - Arsenal v Manchester United
February 2 - Wolves v Arsenal
February 6 - Aston Villa v Arsenal
February 13 - Arsenal v Leeds United
February 20 - Arsenal v Manchester City
February 27 - Leicester City v Arsenal
March 6 - Burnley v Arsenal
March 13 - Arsenal v Tottenham 
March 20 - West Ham v Arsenal
April 3 - Arsenal v Liverpool
April 10 - Sheffield United v Arsenal
April 17 - Arsenal v Fulham
April 24 - Arsenal v Everton
May 1 - Newcastle United v Arsenal
May 8 - Arsenal v West Brom
May 12 - Chelsea v Arsenal
May 15 - Crystal Palace v Arsenal
May 23 - Arsenal v Brighton

Liverpool will begin the defence of their Premier League title with a match against newly promoted Leeds United at Anfield.

The Reds spectacularly stormed to their first top-flight crown since 1990 last season, while Leeds secured their return to the highest level under Marcelo Bielsa after 16 years away.

Liverpool v Leeds on the opening day was one of the standout initial fixtures confirmed for the 2020-21 campaign, which begins on September 12.

Thursday's fixture announcement also saw another promoted side, Fulham, listed to host FA Cup winners Arsenal in a London derby to begin the campaign.

Jose Mourinho's Tottenham will play at home to Everton, while West Brom mark their Premier League return with a difficult home match against Leicester City.

Chelsea start with an away game against Brighton and Hove Albion on September 14, which is the same day as Wolves travel to play Sheffield United.

West Ham are due to face Newcastle United and Crystal Palace will meet Southampton.

Manchester United are due to start away to Burnley and Manchester City are at home to Aston Villa, but those games will be moved to a later date due to the sides managed by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Pep Guardiola recently being involved in European competition.

After they have negotiated their first games, a huge contest on the second matchday will see Chelsea host champions Liverpool on September 19.
 

Opening weekend Premier League fixtures:

Burnley v Manchester United (Sep 12) *
Crystal Palace v Southampton (Sep 12)
Fulham v Arsenal (Sep 12)
Liverpool v Leeds United (Sep 12)
Manchester City v Aston Villa (Sep 12) *
Tottenham Hotspur v Everton (Sep 12)
West Brom v Leicester City (Sep 12)
West Ham v Newcastle (Sep 12)
Brighton v Chelsea (Sep 14)
Sheffield United v Wolves (Sep 14)

* Matches will be moved to a later date.

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