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Video: Chelsea youngsters report for England duty

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Chelsea’s young England internationals have reported for duty for the upcoming games. The Three Lions face Czech Republic and Bulgaria in Euro…

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Arsenal star Alexandre Lacazette sends contract plea to Bukayo Saka amid Man Utd interest

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Alexandre Lacazette has told Bukayo Saka to “sign please” as the future of the Arsenal’s teenager hots up. Saka made his first-team debut last season and impressed on the fleeting opportunities he was given.

But in this campaign, the 18-year-old has developed to an even greater extent and become a key member of the team.

And his influence was on display last night as he provided the assist for Lacazette to break the deadlock against Olympiacos in their Europa League round of 32 match, which they won 1-0.

It was Saka’s ninth assist of the season to go along with three goals.

The England youth player has 18 months on his current deal and Arsenal are desperate to tie him down to a longer-term deal.

However, their efforts are hampered by the emergence of reported interest from Manchester United and Liverpool.

Saka came through Arsenal’s Hale End academy and they would be loathed to lose him to one of their rivals and that sentiment appears to be shared in the dressing room at the Emirates.

In an Instagram post showing Lacazette and Saka together after the goal, the youngster wrote ‘Our number 9’ and used a smiling face with heart-eyes emoji.

And Lacazette replied with a plea for Saka to sign a new deal.

“He’s got the vision and the ability to execute when the spaces are really tight. That’s a gift.”

Saka was part of a defence which kept their third clean sheet in a row and Arteta was delighted with whole the team is defending collectively.

He added: “I was telling them that they have to enjoy defending as well, it is a big part of the game and like tonight, if you give simple balls away, you better run back and get that ball back as quick as possible.

“They played with a big heart, I saw a lot of big effort and instead of splitting it joins together really quickly. The wide players before used to have different behaviours, now they are tracking back everybody. I think we are doing a lot of work to try to stay as compact as possible in many situations when we don’t have it, and I am pleased with that because it is big part.

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Shkodran Mustafi can see a future at Arsenal after reviving his career under Mikel Arteta

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Shkodran Mustafi can see a future at Arsenal after reviving his career under Mikel Arteta following poor spell

  • Shkodran Mustafi has fallen out of favour under former manager Unai Emery
  • However, Arteta has been pairing the German with David Luiz at centre back
  • Mustafi appeared against Olympiacos and is hoping to keep place on Sunday

Shkodran Mustafi has refused to rule out remaining at Arsenal beyond the end of the season after rebuilding his relationship with the club’s fanbase following his recent resurgence.

Having been told by previous boss Unai Emery that he was free to leave the club last summer and then being left out on a regular basis, Mustafi has earned a chance of reviving his Gunners career under Mikel Arteta.

The Germany international has endured a strained affiliation with Arsenal supporters since his big-money move from Valencia in 2016 and has often been derided for his defensive capability.

Shkodran Mustafi is refusing to rule out the possibility of remaining at Arsenal past this season

Shkodran Mustafi is refusing to rule out the possibility of remaining at Arsenal past this season

But, alongside David Luiz at the heart of the back four, Mustafi has played his part in three consecutive clean sheets – the first time Arsenal have enjoyed such a run in 10 months.

He again stood strong in Thursday’s 1-0 Europa League round of 32 win in Olympiacos as Alexandre Lacazette’s goal put Arteta’s side in the driving seat to advance to the next stage.

Speaking after the narrow victory in Piraeus, Mustafi — who has now started the last six Arsenal games across all competitions — said he could now remain at the Emirates Stadium in the long-term.

Asked if he saw his future at Arsenal, he replied: ‘Why not? I have always taken things day to day.

‘We had a game on Thursday, we have the next important game at the weekend and as long as I am playing for a club – it doesn’t matter which one – I play now for Arsenal and played before for previous ones.

‘I always gave everything until the last minute and when I decide or when the club and I decide it is going to continue I am happy to continue, if not then we have to go forward.’

Often singled out as a scapegoat during recent Arsenal trials and tribulations, Mustafi’s recent form has seen him praised by supporters and the 27-year-old admits building bridges with fans has made his return to the team easier.

‘It is always important to have a good relationship with the fans but for me the main thing was to be professional,’ he added.

‘To always be there for my team-mates and for the club and then obviously when you play well they appreciate your performances but it makes it easier when you have the fans behind you, back supporting you so I am happy for that.’

Having a settled life away from the spotlight of the football pitch is something else Mustafi credits with helping him to kick-start his stuttering career in England.

Mustafi has won back his place at the heart of Arsenal's defence under Mikel Arteta

Mustafi has won back his place at the heart of Arsenal's defence under Mikel Arteta

Mustafi has won back his place at the heart of Arsenal’s defence under Mikel Arteta

‘You know I think in the beginning of the season, not being selected, not making the squad, it has been difficult,’ he said.

‘But I am a person who tries to see more the positive things than the negatives. I think that helped me a lot.

‘Having my family around me – my kids, my wife – because life is not only football. That’s something I kept remembering to myself.

‘Being in training every day, playing a lot of games, you get a lot of attention but still at the end of the day I am a father of two kids and I try to focus on this as well. I am happy how it is running now.

‘I am happy for the team as well because it is doing great and we are getting rewarded for it. That’s the most important thing.’

 



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Video: Inter Milan’s Christian Eriksen scores his first goal since signing from Tottenham Hotspur

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Former Tottenham Hotspur attacking midfielder Christian Eriksen has scored his first goal for new club Inter Milan. The Denmark international was on…

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