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Unai Emery clears self on failed Arsenal transfer

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Former Arsenal manager Unai Emery has cleared himself on the failure to sign Wilfried Zaha in the summer of 2019 ahead of Nicolas Pepe despite his availability.

According to the Spanish manager, his decision was to bring in the Crystal Palace winger but the club was more interested in Nicolas Pepe and went ahead to make the big investment.

However, Nicolas Pepe has continued to struggle at the Emirates Stadium and has not given the best of his performance to the club following his club-record fee of £72 million from French Ligue 1 outfit, Lille.

“I usually want to sign first the players I know there,” Emery exclusively told football.london. “When we played against Crystal Palace, Zaha showed he was a very good player.

“I also think Nicolas Pepe is a very good player. When you make the decision you have to decide how easy the adaption will be of some players. I was thinking the adaption was easier for Zaha because he was playing in the Premier League and you didn’t know exactly how fast Nicolas Pepe can adapt to the Premier League because I know you can need some time to adapt.

“I was thinking at this time that the adaption of Zaha was probably easier and faster than Pepe.”

Unai emery made this known after Wilfried Zaha questioned the decision of the Gunners to ignore him, after holding talks for a player who was new to the Premier League.

“I had a conversation with the manager. [Unai] Emery was just like, ‘We don’t really need to go through much’,” Zaha told the Greatest Game Podcast.

“He said he’d seen me play, he knows I can change games at any time and stuff like that. He was like, ‘Yeah we’d love to have you’ and I was just like, ‘Yeah I’d love to come’.

“The conversation was rather straightforward because I played against him when he was manager of Arsenal. He saw what I could do, saw my work-rate, and what I could add to the team. Obviously, it was up to the club who they chose and they chose Pepe over me.”

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Tomori to return to Chelsea after loan term?

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Chelsea youngster Fikayo Tomori recently joined Italian Serie A outfit AC Milan on an initial loan deal for the remainder of the season and there are already talks of whether he would returm to the Stamford Bridge or secure a permanent move.

The young defender has made his full debut and played well alongside Alessio Romagnoli at the back which remains an experience he has always dreamt of.

In the loan deal, there is a clause that permits a €30m buy-out clause which must be decided by Rossoneri need to decide at the end of the season

On a podcast, popular transfer journalist, Fabrizio Romano spoke about the situation and the chances of Tomori staying.

“We’ll see if they will sign Tomori or send him back to Chelsea and go for a different centre-back. It’s an interesting player, he had a good match against Inter. He’s a different centre-back, fast, aggressive but €30m is too much, it’s not a small fee.

“Milan will take a decision at the end of the season, Ricky Massara is in love with the player. For sure they will go for him if he will show his skills,” he said.

Meanwhile, before his sack, Frank Lampard said Fikayo Tomori has a future at Chelsea and will not be allowed to leave permanently.

“He absolutely has a long-term future,” said Lampard as quoted by football.london.

“We will see if and when he goes out on loan. I took him on loan to Derby and he was one of the best players in the Championships.

“There is a long-term plan for Fikayo in my head and if he goes out on loan it will be to enhance his personal development and come back as a better player.”

Fikayo also spoke after his debut with AC Milan. He said “A lot more people are realising that there’s more to football than the Premier League and England,” he told reporters after the pulsating derby at San Siro.

“I speak to a lot of English players and they always say: ‘How come players from Brazil or Argentina move at 16, 17 yet English players don’t seem to go out of England a lot.’

“I think it’s definitely a positive that many young English players want to leave England and are willing to try something new, to learn new languages and a different style of play.

“That’s only going to benefit them and the national team as well.

“Going abroad gives you a different view on football as a whole rather than just Premier League and England and being in the comfort zone. Being out of your comfort zone can definitely develop a person and a player as well.”

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Gary Neville exposes United’s transfer decision on Donny Van De Beek

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Gary Neville has given the hint that Man United invested £40million for midfielder Donny Van de Beek, not because he was needed but because they feared Paul Pogba would leave and wanted to have him replaced before his exit.

Paul Pogba has been unsettled at Old Trafford for many years as he has been linked with moves away but be seems to be experiencing a revival in the last few matches, with some pointing to his improved form coming after the remarkable intervention from his agent Mina Raiola in December, who claimed his United career was ‘over’.

Neville, wondering why the Red Devils invested in the Dutch star, who has barely featured at Old Trafford, having started only two Premier League games and scored just once in the opening game of the season in September. The 23-year-old has not featured at all in the league since United’s 6-2 thrashing of Leeds on 20 December.

His words “It’s interesting, something’s happened – the (Donny) Van de Beek signing’s an interesting one – I still can’t get my head around it,’ Neville said on Sky Sports on Sunday ahead of the Liverpool v Manchester United game.

“It’s almost as if that signing was sort of done in anticipation of one of the others leaving because Van de Beek has just sat on the bench for the last few months and he cost £40million.

“I think that Manchester United are preparing for someone leaving. Maybe Pogba could leave, so they’ve already got Van de Beek in to maybe assume that role.”

Van De Beek has hardly been seen with pundits and former Man United layer urging him to leave the club or be assured of regular playing time.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has defended critics of Van de Beek and his lack of game time, saying “There are so many examples of players needing a little bit of time, quality players, we have many examples ourselves and there are other clubs with examples and sometimes it takes time,’ Solskjaer said about the Dutchman.

“You don’t expect people who care for him to be quiet at times, especially when they want the best for them. I’ve spoken to him and made him aware of how much we rate him.”

However, Gary Neville confessed that Paul Pogba has been returned to the team on merit given his current form after sitting on the bench for a couple of games earlier in the season.

‘I think now, the way Paul Pogba’s playing and the way Manchester United’s season is going, there’s no one going to come in in January and buy Paul Pogba; I don’t think Manchester United would let him go.’

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Transfer journalist reveals Liverpool’s effort to beat Chelsea for 28-year-old Bundesliga star

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Popular transfer journalist, Fabrizio Romano has revealed that English Premier League title holders, Liverpool are making moves to beat Chelsea for the signature of David Alaba from Bundesliga outfit Bayern Munich.

The West London outfit have been linked with the signature of the Austria international and it was claimed that they have held talks with his representatives about a possible move to Stamford Bridge at the end of the season but now, the Reds are making efforts to win the race.

David Alaba will be free to leave the Allianz Arena at the end of the season when his contract expires, as he wants to depart after 12 years spell at Bayern Munich. He is now free to talk to clubs for a possible deal and that is expected to happen before the end of the January winter transfer window.

However, Spanish La Liga giants, Real Madrid are leading in the race for David Alaba but manager Jurgen Klopp is not giving up on the chances of landing the Bundesliga star at Anfield.

While Liverpool have contacted David Alaba’s representatives as well, Real Madrid have made an initial proposal to the Austria international’s representatives as they are keen to replace Sergio Ramos, whose future at the Santiago Bernabeu is uncertain.

Romano also revealed that there are no possibilities of a move for David Alaba in January as he wants to see out his contract with the German outfit.

David Alaba has been described by Man City manager, Pep Guardiola as ‘God’ in the past when the former Bayern Munich boss piled praises on him when he was in charge of the German outfit. This is because the player plays almost all ten outfield positions during his reign at the club.

The Spaniard said: ‘David Alaba is our God! He has already played almost all 10 positions.’

Before now, Bayern Munich chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge was keen to know David Alaba’s decision about his future as the club are also willing to keep him for more years.

“I don’t know [if Alaba will leave],” he told Sport Bild. “We had a meeting two weeks ago with his father George and his advisor Pini Zahavi.

“The conversation was okay, the atmosphere was alright. But I have to say, we’ve been going in circles for months. At some point we have to start planning for the new season. We have to know: Will David stay with FC Bayern or not? A decision is important to us.” He had said in November 2020.

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