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Could Lucía García move to Manchester United this summer?

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According to recent reports, Manchester United could be looking to add to their attack with the addition of 23-year-old Lucia Garcia from Athletic Club. She has scored 12 goals and collected 4 assists in the Primera Division this season, for an Athletic Bilbao side sitting in 7th.  Man United Women’s team think that she could be the difference for them to push onto Champions League next season, to go with their other attacking youngsters such as Ella Toone and Alessia Russo. García hasn’t played outside of Spain before, so it’ll be interesting to see how she does.

When she renewed her contract with the Lions in 2020 she said, “I am so happy for being here for two more years. I arrived being a child and, in this time, Athletic has been fundamental in my growth, both as a person and as a footballer. They trusted me from the first minute and that is why I have to thank them from the heart.”

But her contract is expiring this year, and she could want a move to a more competitive side where she’ll get quality playing time. It seems that Manchester United are offering that, and in playing for a club where she knows that she could potentially win a title soon with aspirations for bigger and better things, it’d be hard to say no.

SENIOR CAREER

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García started her senior career with Oviedo Moderno (Real Oviedo’s women’s section) at the age of 15. She was part of their most recent spell in the top flight which lasted 3 years, from 2013 to 2016. During that time, she scored 19 goals in 63 games, a good ratio for someone as young as her.

After that, she moved to Bilbao, after Oviedo was relegated to the second tier. She has been more prolific in her time at Athletic Club, with 58 goals throughout her 115 games – a 50% goal contribution ratio. This prolonged success is the likely reason why Manchester United are looking at her instead of someone like Geyse Ferreira or Amaiur Sarriegi, both of whom have scored more but have done it for less time.

LUCIA GARCIA REPLACING SIGNE BRUUN

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It is clear that Lucia García is being brought in to replace Signe Bruun, as her loan ended at the end of the season. However, Marc Skinner will be hoping that García can bring more goals than Bruun did, as she didn’t record a goal or assist during her time in Manchester.

García could be more of a fit than Bruun, as she comes in with a better form, on a permanent deal, meaning they can work with her on her long-term game and is also slightly younger, and even if that’s only by a year, it could help team planning. García could be the missing piece for United, but we’ll see if she is a Nikita Parris or an Ellen White signing for the Red Devils.












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Premier LEague

Emotions behind Manchester City’s 2021/22 PL title win

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“I said maybe/You’re gonna be the one that saves me/And after all/You’re my wonder-wall.” Oasis’ iconic song echoed in Etihad stadium along with Beatles’ “Hey Jude” before kick-off as everyone on this planet except some people in Kop End thought it was Manchester City’s day to paint the City in blue once again this year. Before we get onto the final day, let’s see how the 2021/22 season has been for Man City and most importantly its supporters. So fasten your seatbelts and wear your life jackets as the ship is about to leave the port.

DISAPPOINTING TRANSFER WINDOW & AVERAGE PRE-SEASON

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The season began on a sad note that this year Sergio Aguero was not going to be here, Cityzen felt that there was a dire need for a center- forward and so did Pep. There were numerous names flying as potential Aguero replacements but, one name on top of that list was England captain Harry Kane. Manchester City spent almost the entire summer chasing Harry Kane’s signature but failed. While they missed on Kane, there were rumours that they can land a deal for Lionel Messi as the Argentine’s wages were too much for Barcelona. In the same window, Man City lost the opportunity to sign Cristiano Ronaldo. City missed the opportunity to sign 2 GOATS of the football world for next to no fee in the same window absolutely crushing the dreams of many football fanatics around the globe.

Manchester City ended the window by signing Jack Grealish from Aston Villa for 100 million pounds and Brazilian wonderkid Kayky for the EDS.

During pre-season, Pep Guardiola had no first-team players in the camp due to Euros. So Pep had to play with EDS and u18s during pre-season friendlies and when the players started to return, they were rushed to play Community Shield against Leicester City in a losing effort.

A SLOW START

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Having a confusing window and sub-par pre-season, Man City started their campaign really slow. Losing to Tottenham Hotspur and drawing to Southampton, Manchester City were at one point 12th in the table while Chelsea, Liverpool and Man United were among the toppers. City fans started questioning players’ abilities but still backed their manager. After a slow but rather steady start, Manchester City started to be visible in the top 6 which changed to top 4 then top 3 and then a victory against Chelsea changed everything. City were back in the top 2 and chased Liverpool by just a single point.

A rich run of form and a Liverpool dip resulted in Manchester City leading the Premier League table during Christmas Period.

CARABAO CUP EXIT

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City gave chance to various academy players in this competition. Likes of Cole Palmer, James McAtee and CJ Egan-Riley got the platform to earn Pep’s trust. Unfortunate for them, City’s side consisting of 10 first team players lost to West Ham on penalties where Phil Foden missed the decisive shot. This elimination meant that Pep’s side were out of the quadruple race while their rivals Liverpool were still in contention for the unprecedented quadruple.

MANCHESTER CITY RICH PREMIER LEAGUE FORM

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After their exit from Cup, Manchester City were consistent in UCL as well as PL looking like favourites to win the title again. Likes of Riyad Mahrez, Bernardo Silva and Kevin De Bruyne were brilliant on weekly basis. Players took the responsibility for the goals on themselves as they were without a striker as well as Ferran Torres. This didn’t stop them as instead of one player with 50 goals for the season, they had 5 players with 50 goals within them. Phil Foden, Kevin De Bruyne, Raheem Sterling, Riyad Mahrez and Gabriel Jesus everyone contributed to City’s goals. This consistency brought them a clear advantage of 9 points on the PL table.

DIP IN PL FORM

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While everything was going good, Manchester City hit a speed bumper in their way. Patrick Vieira’s Crystal Palace and Antonio Conte’s Spurs beat Guardiola’s City which reduced the points gap. Still clear of 3 points against Liverpool it looked like City were still managing to keep its hands on the trophy but, injuries to Kyle Walker, Nathan Ake, Ruben Dias and Aymeric Laporte meant they were without an actual backline and especially without a center-back. What a crisis for a squad in an important position!

1 MINUTE IN CHAMPIONS LEAGUE

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Manchester City had great knockout rounds in Champions League. Beating SCP by a comfortable margin, they went on to beat Atletico Madrid in a match that ended up in a brawl. A hard-fought victory against Simeone’s side took a lot of fuel (no pun) out of City’s side. The same game caused injury to Stones, Walker and KDB. Due to the absence of the above trio, Manchester City lost their FA Cup tie against Liverpool which ended City’s dream of a treble.

While they looked like favourites to win the UCL as they beat Real Madrid in 1st leg, City fans would be happy if we don’t remind them of 2nd leg.

Pep’s side played good football across both legs. They dominated the ball for 179 minutes out of the traditional 180. Yet they somehow lost to Madrid due to Rodrygo’s brilliance in the 90th minute of the second leg. This game absolutely destroyed Manchester City players emotionally. Pep Guardiola was left speechless after the final whistle and the whole away end kept wondering HOW? This painful sight of players crying at Bernabeu will always haunt Manchester City for a greater future. Getting eliminated by the Kings of CL; Pep had one job now: To win PL by hook or by crook.

WEST HAM 2-2 MAN CITY

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City lined up with a backline of Cancelo, Dinho, Laporte and Zinchenko due to injuries on Dias, Stones, Walker and Ake. This makeshift defence cost City 2 points as the game against West Ham ended up in a 2-2 draw. While Man City were temporarily 2nd in the table now, lucky for them Liverpool also drew against Tottenham. But, this game changed the dynamic of the remaining weeks. City and Liverpool were back at a tight race with the point gap being just 1. Manchester City were just 1 point ahead of Liverpool and City’s defensive record in last few games suggested that Liverpool may just go on to win the title and maybe… a Quadruple.

JUDGEMENT DAY

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After having a rollercoaster of a season. Pep and City had one job: Win the game against Aston Villa. A win here meant Manchester City would lift the trophy while a loss or draw meant Liverpool’s result will decide the winner.

Coming back to the beginning of this article, the stage was set, and Etihad was filled with a crowd (something that social media experts will disagree). City fans were singing songs and echoing chants from the depth of their lungs. Etihad experienced one of the best atmosphere of the season for this game. The whole of Manchester including the Red side were hoping and praying for Man City to win. Hence, Pep had to win this for 2 reasons: 1. Avoiding City of another trophyless season. 2. For world peace against Liverpool fans (bro we don’t want to read the best of all time cries from them on twitter).

As the game started, analytics were suggesting a comfortable Manchester City win vs Aston Villa. Man City even dominated the ball for first quarter but they were finding it difficult to get past the 18-yard box. Villa started to grow in the game and Steven Gerrard’s team scored first. City conceded to Cash (no pun again). As Villa spotted Fernandinho as a weak link in City defence Steven Gerrard asked his army to attack the wounded spot. Manchester City’s high line and slow defenders were unable to keep up against Watkins. Steven Gerrard ended the first half with his side leading by one goal.

Still hopeful of a comeback, Manchester City were quite confident despite trailing by a goal. The second half began with a changed backline. Cancelo was moved to right-back while Stones moved to his usual Center back role and Zinchenko was introduced in place of skipper Fernandinho. Pep Guardiola, a manager who hardly makes substitutions for tactical shifts did one mean that things were going to heat up. There was hope that now, City will cover properly and build up from the back and play their usual game.

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Likes of Bernardo, Mahrez, Foden, Jesus and De Bruyne tried to break through Villa’s defence but still could not find any opening. Frustrated with the monotonous and predictable attacking patterns, Pep introduced Gundogan and Sterling for Bernardo and Mahrez respectively in an attempt to shake things up. As the hour had passed City were still trying to look for a breakthrough and then Coutinho scored a sublime finish for Villa. It felt like it’s written in the books and all the theorists on Twitter were happy for this fantasy to come true. Steven Gerrard and Phil Coutinho, two former Liverpool players were indirectly helping Liverpool to win the title by beating Manchester City.

Entire Etihad was shunned and shocked, I can still remember those tearful eyes in the audience. Each and every City fan had given up at that time. It felt like turning the television screen off as City were losing and Liverpool were looking like they will make a comeback. There was a joy in Kop while the exact opposite at the Collin Bell stands. But, 6 minutes later City’s hero from last season, Ilkay Gundogan scored from a header making it 1-2. I remember myself watching Manchester City’s game on one screen while constantly checking Liverpool’s score. For a couple of minutes, it still looked like City might end up on the losing side as Liverpool were growing in their game against Wolverhampton Wanderers. I can imagine that most of us must have prayed for Wolves to hold Liverpool from scoring for the remaining 18 minutes.

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There’s one unwritten rule in football that goals can come from anywhere and Manchester City knew this from their game against Real Madrid.

Following Gundogan’s goal, Etihad started speaking again. “We never win at home/And we never win away/We lost last week/And we lost today/We don’t give a ****/’Cause we’re all pissed up/MCFC OK.”

“You are my City/My only City/You make me happy when skies are grey/You’ll never know just how much I love you/So please don’t take my City away.”

“I’m City ’til I die/I’m City ’til I die/I know I am I’m sure I am/I’m City ’till I die.”

These chants were echoing around Etihad and this support motivated Rodri to take a chance from outside the box and he OH BOY HE SCORED!!! I remember myself jumping off my couch with screaming loud enough to disturb my sleeping Indian neighbour. As City now equalized with Villa’s score, everyone knew Villa will park the bus for the remaining game. But, Rodri’s goal awakened a memory in the hearts of all the City fans. “Dzekooo” Rodri’s goal gave us a flashback of Dzeko’s goal against QPR.

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That game won them their first PL title and exactly a decade later, City were looking for an Agueerroooo goal but this time there was no Sergio Aguero in the club.

Can’t say about others but this exact moment brought a small tear to my eye as I missed Sergio Aguero and I wished for someone to do exactly what Manchester City and Sergio Aguero did 10 years ago: Keep digging, keep shooting and get that damn goal.

Exactly three minutes later commentator screamed “De Bruyneeeee” and the whole Etihad erupted in the loudest cheer seen in Premier League this season. Goalscorer Ilkay Gundogan was to the rescue again as he ran like a kid celebrating even losing his control while sliding down the pitch. All the Manchester City fans present in the stadium started singing “Blue Moon” while the fans like me jumped off the couch, screamed out of joy and took a quick house tour running and celebrating this dramatic goal.

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We got our “Aguerrrooooo” goal this time and this was the perfect tribute to our legend as well as our title win which happened exactly one decade before. A new joy sparked again and the singing voices never stopped till the trophy celebrations.

Kevin De Bruyne, Sterling and most importantly Rodri and Gundogan or say Kun-dogan rose to the occasion to save the season for Manchester City. Hugs, jumps and joyful stretches at a full time from the people in blue were the best sight for all the City fans this season. Younger fans who were unable to experience Aguerroooooooooo moment got to see what all the City fans must’ve felt in 2012. Pep showed his will to shake things up in important sessions and all the players showed their characters. They kept trying and snatched the title from Liverpool’s hands. Club captain Fernandinho lifted the trophy as Cityzens kept singing his name to bid him a memorable farewell.

After a disappointing Champions League exit and early exit from the domestic Cup, Man City ended their season on a high with 4th league title in 5 years.

“All wells if end well.”











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Huddersfield Town vs Nottingham Forest: Match Preview

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Huddersfield Town and Nottingham Forest square off at Wembley Stadium on Sunday with a place in the Premier League up for grabs for the winner.

Helped by a strong second half to the season, the two clubs finished in third and fourth place respectively in the Championship standings and will feel that they deserve the opportunity to join Fulham and AFC Bournemouth in the English top flight.

Last season, Huddersfield and Forest finished in 20th and 17th respectively. This campaign, they have considerably transformed those fortunes. There was even a time when Nottingham Forest occupied the bottom spot in the division before Steve Cooper arrived at the helm. Such is the unpredictability of the division that the two clubs will square off once more for the coveted last place in the Premier League, and their spots in the showpiece are justified after outstanding years in the second tier.

Between December 4 and March 11, Huddersfield put together a 17-match unbeaten streak in the league, and just two defeats have come from 28 matches at this level.

Meanwhile, since Steve Cooper’s first game in charge on September 25, Forest have accumulated 76 points from 38 games, the best return in the Championship regular campaign over that period. Makes you wonder what might have been had the Midlands club appointed the former Swansea boss heading into the 2021/22 campaign.

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Forest conceded five goals fewer than any other team during that period, also the two clubs lost fewer games than Fulham and Bournemouth over the same stint.

Nevertheless, the playoffs were not straightforward clashes for both clubs who were tested to their limits. Huddersfield Town were pushed all the way by Luton Town, the Terriers requiring a late Jordan Rhodes in the second leg at the John Smith’s Stadium to prevail 2-1 on aggregate.

The drama was saved for Nottingham Forest’s reverse fixture with Sheffield United, Cooper’s team seemingly home and dry when leading 3-1 on aggregate at half-time at the City Ground before the Blades took the game to extra time, even almost winning the tie in the final seconds of the added 30 minutes.

All of the momentum was with the visitors until the heroics of Forest goalkeeper Brice Samba, who saved three penalties to earn his team a spot at Wembley.

The fact that Nottingham Forest toiled under the weight of expectancy during the normal time will only encourage Huddersfield boss Carlos Corberan, and his team who were one of just a few teams to win a league fixture at the City Ground during 2020-21.

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All things considered, that will certainly count for little.

The money and prestige on offer mean that both teams will be under intense pressure on Sunday, even if it is Forest who will be looking to end a 23-year absence from the big time.

Huddersfield supporters will be taking the positives from their last two playoff finals ending in victory, most notably five years ago when they defeated Reading on penalties to earn a first-ever appearance in the Premier League.

WHERE AND WHEN?

Venue: Wembley Stadium.
Date: Sunday, 29th May 2022.
Time: 16:30PM (BST).

MATCH OFFICIALS

Referee: Jonathan Moss.
Assistant referee: Marc Perry, Tim Wood.
Fourth official: Craig Pawson.
VAR: Paul Tierney.
Assistant VAR: Ian Hussin.

LEAGUE FORM (LAST SIX):

Huddersfield: WWWWDW

Nottingham Forest: WWLDWL

TEAM NEWS

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Having proven his fitness with two substitute appearances during the playoffs, Keinan Davis could return in attack for Forest.

Steve Cooper will certainly need the Aston Villa man’s energy, intensity, bullish strength and hold-up play in attack in order to take control of proceedings better than they managed last time out against Sheffield United in the second-leg of their Play-Off semi-final tie.

That would see Sam Surridge drop down to the substitutes’ bench in what is likely to be the only alternation made by Cooper.

Huddersfield are hoping that Danny Ward can take his place down the centre of the front three after coming off injured during the second leg versus Luton.

Rhodes is on standby should the club’s top goalscorer miss out, while Sorba Thomas will almost certainly come back into the team after shaking off a knee issue in time for the semi-finals.

Duane Holmes will likely miss out as Corberan may almost certainly show preference to a back three in order to match the formation of their opponents.

PLAYERS TO WATCH OUT FOR

LEVI COLWILL

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The teenager has been a first-team regular in Huddersfield Town’s promotion push ahead of their Championship Play-Off final, featuring in 29 of their 48 games.

There will almost certainly be scouts from a host of Premier League teams in attendance at Wembley, with Crystal Palace, Southampton, Everton, Arsenal and Brighton among the others who reportedly want the talented centre back.

The 19-year-old has been a monstrous and colossal presence at the back for Corberan’s side, helping them to 11 of their impressive 20 clean sheets this campaign.

Throughout, he’s averaged a scintillating 1.3 interceptions per game, 1.8 tackles, 4.1 clearances and also winning 65% of his total duels and 64% of his aerial duels highlighting his tremendous all-action defensive style at the heart of the Huddersfield backline.

Where his immediate future lies is unclear, with a host of Premier League clubs scouring for his services this summer. His parent club Chelsea do want him back for preseason in July, with a view to providing him with first-team opportunities next season, but even that looks unlikely seeing as Thomas Tuchel will certainly be strengthening an ageing backline.

Another loan move may be on the agenda for him, as his development and maturity is showing no signs of letting up. A stupendous defensive talent.

BRENNAN JOHNSON

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Wales manager Robert Page certainly thinks Johnson could play for a top-six Premier League team now and those clubs who wanted him in January have seemingly missed out.

The Forest forward heads into Sunday’s final on the back of a tremendous breakthrough season for club and country. “Brennan is the future of Welsh football and I think he’s top-six (Premier League) now,” Page said.

Arguably the most gifted footballer in the second tier, the 21-year-old holds a superb record heading into the Wembley showpiece, registering 18 goals and 10 assists in 48 outings for Steve Cooper’s men.

Any chance Forest have of entering the Premier League for the first time in 23 years will again rest on his young and broad shoulders.

Exceptional work ethic, athleticism, dynamism, courage and technical ability on the flanks that even most wingers in the English top-flight would kill for.

Johnson is indeed a Premier League-quality player, and he’ll be hoping he is gracing such a prestigious competition with his beloved boyhood club.

PREDICTED LINEUPS

Huddersfield predicted XI vs Nottingham Forest: Nicholls (GK); Lees, Hogg, Colwill; Pipa, Russell, O’Brien, Toffolo; Sinani, Ward, Thomas.

Nottingham Forest predicted XI vs Huddersfield: Samba (GK); Worrall, Cook, McKenna; Spence, Yates, Garner, Colback; Zinckernagel; Davis, Johnson.

SCORE PREDICTION

Huddersfield Town vs Nottingham Forest: 1-2












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Why Eddie Nketiah staying makes sense for Arsenal

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Eddie Nketiah staying at Arsenal is all but confirmed with David Ornstein reporting that the 22-year-old is now set to change his mind and sign a new deal with the club

Let’s take a look at why it made so much sense for both parties in the end.

BUMPY ROAD

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Nketiah came into the season off a really positive pre-season. But even with that in mind, he was still our 3rd striker in the pecking order. As the season went on, the opportunities were limited…

With both Aubameyang and Lacazette on the roster and wings spaces filled by genuine wingers, all of his appearances came in the cups. He started all of Arsenal’s cup games up until the semi-finals of the Carabao Cup. He scored 5 in 5 games in the Carabao and 0 in 1 in the FA Cup.

Noted, most of these games, except one, came against non Premier League opposition and that makes it hard to stand out.

When Aubameyang left for Barca in January, Lacazette picked up form and Eddie found it hard to nail down a starting spot despite the rise in minutes. His off the bench appearances weren’t enough for him to showcase just how much he’s grown as a player.

“People have so many expectations of you, but bro I’m coming on for 9 minutes. We’re winning 1-0, the aim is to hold on to the lead. When I’ve had substantial time like 15-20 (Palace, Wolves, Brighton), I’m able to do something and show myself.” [Eddie Nketiah on @Podcast_TBG]

SPACE TO GROW

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Lacazette’s form dipped and the results warranted a change. Nketiah’s minutes gradually increased until he became a nailed-on starter for the last 8 games in the Premier League.

With 5 goals in 8 games, he’s shown he CAN be trusted. But goals don’t tell the full story of his breakthrough this season.

We’ve seen a player who’s matured. He wasn’t getting pushed over, he used his body well in duels, he didn’t have a problem with intricate plays outside of the box and he pressed well. And the stats back it up.

eddie-nketiah-stats

image credit: @oh_that_crab / instagram

The sample size is small with ten ’90s played but you can see how much of a well-rounded player he transformed into. He used to have noticeable balance and on-ball issues alongside the game being played at too fast of a pace for him sometimes. Ironically, his balance and speed of movement look like his strengths now. He ironed out a lot of his flaws and he keeps working on improving his skillset as a centre forward.

MUTUAL BENEFIT

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He previously stated that he wants to get games on the regular but there aren’t many Premier League clubs who in my opinion can offer that. Competition for places in this league is brutal, let alone for a 22-year-old striker. He would probably have to leave the league and drop down the level of the club he’d be playing for by a level or two.

Europa League, cups and acting as a deputy to the first striker seems like enough room for game time and continued improvement under Arteta.

With rumours over a new wage spike continuing to swirl, one has to question exactly why is that seen as that big of an issue? Arsenal will not find a similar level of a player who wants to be a “backup” for nothing less than £20m-£30m. In fact, Arsenal saved money by re-signing him.

Not only is his career on an upward trajectory, but his skillset is also very valuable and he’s already shown he’ll keep the starters on their toes and that’s EXACTLY how you raise the level of competition in the squad.

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