Arsenal Newsdesk Live: Mesut Ozil exit latest, Europa League build-up, more

Arsenal Newsdesk Live: Ozil exit latest, Europa build-up, more
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Keep up with all of the latest Arsenal news and rumours throughout the day, including all the build-up to Thursday's Europa League encounter with FC Koln.

Join us LIVE throughout the day for all of the latest Arsenal news and rumours, as well as build-up to Thursday's Europa League trip to FC Koln.

The Gunners have already secured progression to the last-32 stage of the competition and enter the game high on confidence following their 2-0 victory in the North London derby over the weekend.

We'll have squad news as Arsene Wenger's side prepare to make the trip over to Germany, plus the latest developments with Mesut Ozil's potential departure from the Emirates.


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8.50amGOOD MORNING!

Morning all and welcome to Sports Mole's Arsenal live news blog! We'll be here throughout the day with all of the latest from the Gunners camp as they gear up for their latest Europa League game on Thursday night.

Arsene Wenger's side have already done the necessary in the competition, progressing through to the last-32 stage with three wins and a draw from their four matchdays to date. In truth, that qualification comes as no surprise, although they were held to a goalless draw at home by Red Star Belgrade last time out.

EL Group H on Nov 21, 2017

On Thursday against FC Koln, they face a side that certainly made an impression in the reverse fixture back in September.

Kickoff in the game, which Arsenal went on to win 3-1, had to be delayed by an hour after as many as 20,000 ticketless German fans stormed the stadium. UEFA issued the Bundesliga outfit with a future supporter ban and heavy fines as a result of the incident, with heavy police presence expected in Cologne for the visit of the Gunners faithful this week.

More on that to come later, but let's begin with a look at the major stories making the headlines in today's papers...



9.02amSCHALKE ADMIT OZIL INTEREST

Just months ago it was reported that for all of his wage demands, Mesut Ozil could wind up signing a new deal to stay on with the Gunners due to "a lack of interest" in his signature amongst Europe's elite.

With the January transfer window fast approaching, the German has been subject of a flurry of interest in recent weeks, however - most notably from Barcelona, who are said to be considering him as an alternative for heavily-pursued Liverpool playmaker Philippe Coutinho.

Arsenal's Mesut Ozil during the FA Cup final against Chelsea on May 27, 2017© SilverHub

Schalke are the latest side to express an interest, admitting that they could offer Ozil a return to his boyhood club in the future - but not in the current climate.

The 29-year-old was part of the Bundesliga side's youth setup and got his first league start at the club, making 39 senior appearances before departing for Werder Bremen in 2008.

"I still have a great relationship with Mesut. We would definitely consider [a return]. If it fits for both sides, it would be nice," Schalke exec Clemens Tonnies is quoted as saying by Kicker. "The player could say that he returns to his roots, and that he plays football in this stadium and for those fans and the region once again. But it will certainly not happen next season."

Manchester United and Inter Milan have also been linked with moves for Ozil, whose contract now has just seven months to run.



9.24amMUSTAFI HITS OUT AT "SHIT" TRANSFER STORIES

Arsenal defender Shkodran Mustafi had one word for reports linking him with a move to Inter Milan over the summer: "Shit."

The 25-year-old moved to the Emirates in 2016 on a five-year, £35m deal but was tipped for the exit just 12 months later after the Gunners failed to qualify for the Champions League.

Shkodran Mustafi in action for Arsenal on September 10, 2016© SilverHub

Facing reporters yesterday ahead of the Europa League trip to FC Koln, Mustafi launched into a surprising rant against the media for their coverage of the club.

"You like to get the shit, the biggest shit. That's your job. You are asking me about it, it's your job from the people outside, talking and thinking that they know everything," he is quoted as saying.

"What happens in the changing room is the real thing. I don't understand why people just talk about things they cannot know about. If I have been talking to clubs or if I haven't, it's only rumours."



9.44amMORE FROM ANGRY MUSTAFI

More quotes now from Shkodran Mustafi, who was in full-on rant mode after an impressive display in the Gunners' 2-0 victory over North London rivals Tottenham Hotspur at the weekend.

"What happens in the changing room is the real thing," he told reporters. "As always, 'Arsenal is dead, Arsenal isn't coming back.' It's always the same. But it's about what the team is thinking and ­feeling.

"We keep saying we always are alive, we always believe in ourselves, we always try to give everything on the pitch. Obviously, when it comes to games like [Spurs] you have to show character. We did it and you have to give the team credit.

"So there's no point talking now about what was said before and what the people were thinking and who was the better team.. At the end of the game you can see if you did your job or you didn't, and I think we did our job."



10.03amARSENAL TRACKING PORTO MIDFIELDER

Arsenal reportedly had scouts in attendance to watch Porto midfielder Danilo Pereira on Friday night ahead of a potential January bid.

The 26-year-old was on the scoresheet for his side against Portimonense to take his tally for the season to two goals and one assist in 14 appearances.

The Gunners, who are also believed to be tracking Danilo's teammate Yacine Brahimi, are joined in their interest in the Portugal international by Manchester United and Paris Saint-Germain.

More on this story here.



10.13amXHAKA: 'ARSENAL CAN CATCH CITY'

Manchester City have got the season off to a blistering start, dropping just two points in the Premier League to claim an eight-point advantage over second-place Manchester United with 12 games played.

The gap to the Gunners stands at an even more substantial 12 points, but midfielder Granit Xhaka has said that his side are far from out of the title race just yet.

"Our aim is just to focus on ourselves. We know we need to work and we're convinced that we can compete at the top," he told Sky Sports News. "Everything's possible, I'm a person who thinks realistically but has dreams and fantasies as well."

Read more from Xhaka here.



10.39amRICHARLISON WANTED BY CHINESE SUPER LEAGUE?

A strong start to life in English football has already led to Watford striker Richarlison being linked with a January move away to pastures new, with North London rivals Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur both thought to be monitoring his progress.

The Gunners may have some competition for the Brazilian's signature however, as The Mirror claims that several Chinese Super League sides are also interested and could make a move before their new season begins next Spring.

Richarlison moved to Vicarage Road on a five-year deal in the summer for a fee of just over £11m and the Hornets would likely demand a substantial mark-up if he departs in the near future.



10.50amMISLINTAT DISCUSSES ARSENAL SWITCH

Sven Mislintat has revealed that his dispute with former Borussia Dortmund manager Thomas Tuchel was behind his decision to leave the job and take up a new role as Arsenal's chief scout.

The Gunners are thought to have paid a compensation fee of £1.75m in order to bring in Mislintat, who is credited with discovering the likes of Robert Lewandowski and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

Mislintat had a public falling-out with Tuchel last year though, with the boss banning him from contacting the Dortmund players or visiting the training ground after he failed to secure a move for Oliver Torres.

"I would probably never have thought of engaging with other clubs [had it not happened]," he is quoted as saying by Bild.

"The ban initiated by the former coach to enter the training ground and having to stay away from the inner circle of players, the staff, and many friends, with whom I have worked closely for years, greatly influenced my thinking."

Arsene Wenger said of Mislintat's appointment: "We are delighted that Sven is joining us. Identifying and developing talent is a core part of our philosophy and Sven has an outstanding track record over many years. We look forward to him taking our existing recruitment approach forwards."

Mislintat will take up the new role next month.



11.42amBARCA WANT OZIL FOR JUST £17M

More on the Ozil transfer saga now and according to a report in Mundo Deportivo, Barcelona are "confident" of landing the German playmaker for just £17m in January.

That figure would represent less than half of the then-club record figure paid by the Gunners to bring in Ozil in 2013 but could be preferable to him departing on a free just six months later.

Reports earlier this week suggested that Barca could offer Andre Gomes to Arsene Wenger's side in exchange for the unsettled midfielder.



1.08pmCAMPBELL: "ARSENAL AREN'T SERIOUS ANY MORE"

Former Arsenal striker Kevin Campbell has said that the ongoing contract sagas over Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez demonstrate that the club is no longer a "serious" force in English football.

Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil pictured together on November 27, 2016© SilverHub

Both players have failed to commit their futures to the Gunners and are on course to leave for free at the end of the season, with Ozil potentially leaving for Manchester United and Sanchez possibly departing for Manchester City.

"If they were [serious], then a player like Ozil or Sanchez wouldn't be on the last year of their contract," Campbell told the Daily Star.

"Arsenal are a big club, with a big history. But the future isn't looking bright if your best players are leaving."



3.24pmARSENAL 'GIVEN BENZEMA BOOST'

The Gunners have reportedly been given fresh hope in their long-term ambitions to sign up Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema.

The 29-year-old is said to be facing the chop following the club's poor start to the La Liga season, which has seen them fall 10 points behind leaders Barcelona with 12 games of the season played.

Karim Benzema, who got the keys to my bimmer, celebrates scoring during the La Liga game between Real Madrid and Espanyol on January 31, 2016© AFP

Reports in Spain today suggest that it is looking increasingly "likely" that the Frenchman will be sold on either in January or next summer, despite recently committing to a new long-term deal with Los Blancos.

Arsene Wenger is a known long-term admirer of Benzema and is in the market for new attacking options with Alexis Sanchez's likely impending exit before next summer.

Should he agree to move to the Emirates, Benzema could form a new attacking partnership with countryman Alexandre Lacazette.



3.40pmMONREAL: SQUAD EXPECTING OZIL, SANCHEZ TO STAY

Arsenal defender Nacho Monreal has claimed that the squad are fully expecting contract rebels Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil to remain with the club for the rest of the season.

Both players are out of contract at the end of the season and, having rejected big-money offers to pen fresh terms, have been linked with mid-season moves to pastures now.

Ozil is reportedly wanted by both Barcelona and Real Madrid, while Sanchez has been linked with a switch to Arsenal's rivals and title favourites Manchester City.

"The feeling is that they will continue," Monreal told IB Times. "At no time have we talked about the possibility of them leaving. Not at all. They are committed to the group and we will see what happens.

"I can't say much about it. It does not depend on me. The situation is clear. They are two vital players for Arsenal. They are two players who end their contracts at the end of the season.

"If the club want them to stay beyond December [the January transfer window] they will follow. Yet, I do not know the club's intentions. It is other people who are the ones who have to make a decision."



Alexis Sanchez celebrates scoring with Hector Bellerin during the Premier League game between Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur on November 18, 2017
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