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    Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta urges under-fire Thomas Partey to prove why Gunners splashed £45million on him

    MIKEL ARTETA has urged Thomas Partey to step up and show just why Arsenal put so much effort into signing him.The Ghanaian midfielder was supposed to be a game changer when he was poached from Atletico Madrid for £45million last summer.
    Mikel Arteta has urged £45million Thomas Partey to step upCredit: Tom Jenkins-The Guardian
    But that is not quite how things have worked out so far for the 27-year-old.
    And now Arsenal supporters are starting to wonder just what all the fuss was about after watching their team continue to struggle in the middle of the park.
    Partey’s cause has not been helped by a frustrating run of niggling injuries which have prevented him from putting a consistent run of games together.
    But Arteta said: “Hopefully we will see the best version of Thomas at Sheffield United on Sunday and against Slavia Prague next week.
    “Now that he has got a sequence of two or three games I think we’ll see him finishing the season in a really strong way.
    “It’s very difficult to make a proper assessment of Thomas’ performances so far because he has missed six months and that is a long time.
    “He is still adapting to our way of playing, which is different to what he did at Atletico, but he we can all see what he brings to the team.
    “It’s about him finding the level of consistency that we need from him because he has the capacity that we can build a team that can play around him.

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    “The biggest difficulty he has had so far is that he has not been fit. Then every time he recovered, he missed the next game.
    “He has not had time to prepare himself physically to play at the highest level and that has obviously had an impact because the Premier League demands real fitness.”
    With just three wins in their last ten Prem games, Arsenal need Partey to be firing on all cylinders against bottom of the table Sheffield United tomorrow.
    Arteta said: “Sheffield United will give what they do every week, which is a big commitment and a big fight in spite of their position.
    “The club we represent has high demands and the minimum we can ask for is everyone to work hard to deliver the goals that are expected from us.
    “There are some really good examples of teams that were rebuilding and were helped in the project by being out of Europe.
    “But I would rather be in Europe every year and I still want to qualify through our League position and also win the Europa League.”
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    Arsenal reignite interest in Wilfried Zaha and ‘will sell Alexandre Lacazette’ to fund transfer for Palace winger

    ARSENAL have reignited their interest in Crystal Palace star Wilfried Zaha, according to reports.The Gunners were linked with a £40million transfer in 2019 before bringing in his Ivory Coast team-mate Nicolas Pepe instead.
    Wilfried Zaha is a summer transfer target for Arsenal once againCredit: EPA
    But according to 90min.com, the North Londoners are plotting a fresh bid.
    However, in order to finance a swoop, Arsenal would need to sell – and the report adds Alexandre Lacazette could be axed to raise funds.
    The French striker, 29, arrived at the Emirates in 2017 for £52m but is on the radar of Inter Milan, Roma, Sevilla and Atletico Madrid as he prepares to enter the final year of his contract.
    Zaha, 28, is tied down at Selhurst Park until 2023 and his market value stands at £40.5m, according to Transfermarkt.
    The £130,000-a-week winger has nine goals this term – already more than double his tally from a disappointing 2019-20 campaign despite missing five matches with a thigh strain.
    But he has dropped plenty of hints he is ready to move on this summer.
    After confirming his desire to play Champions League football, ‘ambitious’ Zaha added in February he wants to win silverware.
    Zaha told the FT Business of Football Summit: “I have always wanted to play at the top level and win trophies and have the opportunity to show the medals to my kids and say ‘daddy’s won this and that’.
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    “So I will always give my 100 per cent to the club but I’m ambitious and if there are opportunities I will have a look at them.”
    He helped Palace win the Championship play-offs in 2013 and then lifted the Community Shield with Manchester United later that summer.
    Despite Arsenal’s renewed hope in signing boyhood-fan Zaha, there is understood to be little competition for the 20-cap Ivorian.
    Chelsea and Tottenham are not keen at this stage.
    Clubs in France and Italy are monitoring his situation but Zaha would prefer to stay in London.
    Alexandre Lacazette could be sold by Arsenal to raise funds for the Zaha dealCredit: Getty

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    Arsenal priority is to axe HALF the squad this summer with ‘average’ players no use to young stars, slams legend Petit

    ARSENAL must focus on shedding HALF of the dressing room after a woefully disappointing season, Emmanuel Petit has claimed.The Frenchman, 50, won the Premier League in his first of three years at the club and is dismayed by their current situation.
    Mikel Arteta has a big job on to return Arsenal to being title contendersCredit: Reuters
    Emmanuel Petit has described his emotional detachment from the GunnersCredit: Getty – Contributor
    Saturday’s 3-0 defeat to Liverpool left the Gunners in tenth place and five points off the European places.
    And while Petit has backed the young players coming through, he is no fan of the more experienced stars available to Mikel Arteta.
    He told Ladbrokes at the launch of its 5-A-Side Bet: “When I look at the older players in the team, it’s like they think it’s a retreat football club, somewhere you just go for a vacation.
    “They have ambition, but I don’t really expect them to win big games anymore.
    “If you took away the name ‘Arsenal’ and looked at that group of players… average.
    “At the end of the season, if I’m Arsenal, if I’m Arteta, if I’m on the board, to be honest with you, I think my main concern is getting half of the dressing room out. Honestly.
    “I like the young players, but they need to be surrounded by the likes of Lee Dixon and Tony Adams, those personalities.
    “It’s a simple science but if there’s one thing I’ve learnt as a footballer, it’s that you become a better player when you play with better players!”
    Arsenal have let £163.5m worth of signings quit for free since January 2018
    Arsenal have undergone a serious overhaul of the team in the past year, with Sokratis Papastathopoulos, Shkodran Mustafi and Mesut Ozil moved on in January.
    Yet it is the players signed in their place that has baffled Petit.
    The former midfielder accepted that his old club do not have endless finances, but asserted that they must do better.
    He added: “The biggest mistake they have made in the last few years is their ridiculous transfer activity.
    “OK, it’s a question of money and they don’t have the same finances as Manchester United and Manchester City, but they’re not far behind those clubs.
    “They still have the power to get big players in. But the way they’ve spent money in the last six or seven years… who is directing that?
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    I have to tell myself, ‘Don’t expect anything special from them today’. This is the way I am now.Emmanuel Petit

    “I’m just asking that question: who is in charge of these decisions? Does the manager have a say, is it his responsibility? Or is it someone on the board?
    “I don’t understand the profile of players they’ve brought in – especially in defence.
    “I try not to get emotional anymore when I look at Arsenal. I try to step back and put away my emotions. I try and look at them like a normal team.
    “I have to tell myself, ‘Don’t expect anything special from them today’. This is the way I am now.”
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    Arsenal and Chelsea in Hakan Calhanoglu free transfer race as Man Utd target’s contract runs down at AC Milan

    ARSENAL and Chelsea are in the transfer race for Hakan Calhanoglu, according to reports.The AC Milan midfielder, 27, is out of contract at the end of the season so will become a free agent this summer.
    Hakan Calhanoglu is a free transfer target for both Arsenal and Chelsea this summerCredit: Getty Images – Getty
    And according to Sky Sport Italia, the Premier League pair are battling it out to land the Turkish international with both making offers.
    But they face competition from Serie A giants Juventus.
    The Old Lady are in pole position to secure Calhanoglu and will table a better deal as soon as they are officially allowed.
    AC Milan tried to get Calhanoglu to extend his four-year stay at the San Siro.
    But while they offered a new deal worth £66,000 per week, the former Bayer Leverkusen man wants in excess of £82,500 per week.
    Calhanoglu is yet to decide where he wants to play his football next season.
    Last season, Turkish paper Fanatik quoted the playmaker saying: “God willing, I will be a Chelsea player next season.”
    But he denied the comments and insisted he had not discussed Chelsea talks with the press.
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    Calhanoglu – once a Manchester United target – is in his prime aged 27 and has racked up 163 appearances for Milan.
    This season, the 55-cap international has seven goals and 11 assists in 34 games.
    Transfermarkt value the soon-to-be free agent – who can play in the No10 or wide on the left – at £31.5million.
    Once dubbed as the ‘new Mesut Ozil’, Calhanoglu could fill the playmaker spot under Mikel Arteta at the Emirates vacated by the German.
    Martin Odegaard arrived in January on loan from Real Madrid and the Gunners hope to make a permanent deal in the summer – but Calhanoglu is another option.
    But the Turk would face stronger competition for a place under Thomas Tuchel at Chelsea with the likes of Christian Pulisic, Mason Mount, Hakim Ziyech and Kai Havertz all vying to play behind the central striker.
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    Jerome Boateng available on FREE transfer in summer as Bayern will not renew deal with ‘several English clubs’ keen

    PREMIER LEAGUE clubs have been alerted to Jerome Boateng’s availability after Bayern Munich decided to let the defender go.Out of contract in the summer, the defender will follow David Alaba in departing as a free agent.
    Jerome Boateng is set to become a free agent at the end of the seasonCredit: AP
    The 32-year-old has made over 350 appearances for Bayern, winning the treble twice, since a 2011 move ended a flop spell at Manchester City.
    But, according to German publication Kicker, Boateng’s exit has been rubber-stamped by Munich bosses.
    And his entourage have already been informed of the decision to move him on.
    A departure from Allianz Arena has been rumoured for some time and the interest of some clubs was piqued when Bayern secured the signing of Dayot Upamecano for next season.
    Bild report on ‘several’ English clubs monitoring his situation with a move to MLS not out of the question.
    The German has previously featured in links to Arsenal and Chelsea.
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    Mikel Arteta is in the midst of a huge squad rebuild at Emirates Stadium while a new centre-back is thought to be on Thomas Tuchel’s long list of targets in the next window.
    Boateng missed Saturday’s 1-0 win over RB Leipzig due to suspension but has otherwise remained a first-choice for the Bundesliga giants.
    Coach Hansi Flick recently defended his player after Bayern advisor Uli Hoeness criticised calls for his return to the German national team.
    The World Cup winner was one of the veteran players discarded by Joachim Low two years ago, a decision called into question after the recent defeat to North Macedonia.
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    Bayern Munich star Jerome Boateng shows off his purple hair as he has fun on the basketball court More