ARSENAL have returned to training in small groups as the Premier League takes its first steps towards a restart.
But will Gunners fans ever see captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in the flesh again as PSG prepare to test the water with a £35m transfer bid?
Follow all the latest updates and gossip from North London below…
'RIGHT TO THE TOP'
Thierry Henry has revealed he is a huge fan of Gunners transfer target Odsonne Edouard.
The 22-year-old striker had scored 28 goals for Celtic this campaign.
Scotland and Rangers icon Ally McCoist has now let slip Arsenal’s all-time top scorer is a big fan.
He told talkSPORT: “I spoke to Thierry Henry at the Liverpool vs Leicester City game and he really rates Edouard.
“He was saying in France in particular [he is highly regarded] and he personally really, really thinks he’s got a chance of going right to the top.”
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang will race in Sunday's Monaco Grand Prix for McLaren – but only on a computer game.
F1's season has not even started due to the coronavirus pandemic but they are running virtual GPs.
This week they should be racing around Monte Carlo but have to settle for an online version where the Arsenal striker will partner British racer, Lando Norris.
He said: “I've been practicing but it's really hard! I've tried to train every day – hopefully Lando will help me because some of the turns are really, really hard.
“I said to my team before that I love challenges, and this one is a big one for me, so I'm happy to do it with Lando.”
BUILD FROM THE BACK
Mikel Arteta is determined to bolster his defence during the summer transfer window.
Here's some of his top targets…
LUC IS IN
Lucas Torreira is back in business – and it looks his lockdown workouts have paid off.
Cesc Fabregas has revealed that Arsene Wenger cut short a holiday in Paris to meet him as a 15-year-old – pulling out all the stops to bring him to Highbury from Barcelona.
Speaking to Rio Ferdinand on the ex-United defender's new YouTube series, he said: “Arsene Wenger was in Paris for holiday but he flew in a private jet to meet me. David Dein came to London Colney to meet me.
“This shocked me in a way, like 'wow, Arsene Wenger', I am 15-years-old, I am nobody and this guy is breaking up his holiday to meet me. This for me was like 'wow'.
“And then we are talking, he spoke to my mother, asked what I was like when I was little. He showed me the training ground and I just fell in love, I fell in love with the whole project, the whole thing.”
HAV A LOOK
Arsenal target Kai Havertz scored twice today in Bayer Leverkusen's win over Monchengladbach.
After he opened the scoring in the seventh minute, he scored from the spot in the second half.
The 20-year-old has been directly involved in 17 goals for his club in 2020 with 10 goals and seven assists.
Not bad, eh?
DOR IS OPEN
Borussia Dortmund sporting director Michael Zorc has revealed that Mario Gotze will be leaving the club at the end of his contract this summer.
Arsenal have been long-term admirers of the 27-year-old – who has made only five Bundesliga starts this season.
Zorc said in today's pre-match press conference: “We will part ways with Mario Gotze this summer.
“It was a mutual and respectful decision. Mario is a great man.”
RACE FOR FAB
Arsene Wenger flew from Paris to Barcelona in a desperate bid to beat Manchester United to the 15-year-old's signature when he was Arsenal boss.
Arsenal's Gabonese striker looks absolutely thrilled to be back in training.
LA LA LAND
Spanish prime minister Pedro Sanchez has confirmed that LaLiga will return on June 8.
The league’s president Javier Tebas has been desperate to follow the Bundesliga’s lead and resume the 2019-20 season.
And with LaLiga clubs having stepped up their training this week – now allowed to do so in groups of up to ten – Sanchez has officially given the green light to a June 8 return in a press conference.
All 20 teams have 11 games remaining, with Barcelona leading Real Madrid by two points at the top of the table.
Arsenal target Willian has hinted he will be leaving Chelsea at the end of his current contract, as the Blues “are not going to change” their offer.
The Brazilian signed for the West Londoners in 2013 and is believed to be very settled with his family in England’s capital.
He said: “It’s a difficult situation, Chelsea offered me two years and they are not going to change.
“I don’t know if it will be possible to stay. My goal is to continue working and focus on the remainder of the season, so that Chelsea can continue winning games.
“I have a clear head and I’m focused for the rest of the season that we have left. Let’s see what happens.”
LOOK WHO'S BACK
Arsenal have posted footage of their players back in training ahead of a potential Premier League return.
Ex-Stoke chief Pulis told the BBC’s That Peter Crouch Podcast: “I did a coaching session and Patrick Vieira and Jens Lehmann were there and Vieira told me, ‘You were the only club Wenger talked about and tried to work on things but we just couldn’t beat you!
“He said, ‘We turned up for a cup game and we’d worked for two days on defending the long throw — and then Rory Delap was sub!”
Pulis added: “We only found out Rory Delap could throw the ball like that when the lads had a competition. He picked it up and hurled it to the back post.
“I remember the first time Wenger called us a rugby team. It was the third time on the bounce we had beaten them at home.
“Wenger came one year and complained about the grass being too long.
“He wrote a letter to the FA. The referees and the linesmen had to come and measure the grass!”
Tony Pulis says his Stoke side rattled Arsene Wenger so much the Arsenal boss demanded the FA ban his Potters' long throws.
The former City chief claims Wenger became completely obsessed with his side, particularly their long-throw expert Rory Delap.
Wenger also asked for the FA to investigate the grass at Stoke's ground – which he claimed was too deliberately grown too long to stop the Gunners' fancy football, says Pulis.
The then Arsenal chief also dubbed Stoke a rugby team during their various sparring matches between 2008 and 2013.
Pulis says Wenger wanted to BAN throw-ins and replace them with kick-ins.
Arsenal confirmed they will refund ticket holders for their ten remaining matches this season.
The Gunners have four home fixtures and six away left in the current campaign, which has been suspended due to coronavirus.
And with fan safety impossible to guarantee, it is “inevitable” all 92 Premier League games still to play will go ahead behind closed doors.
Therefore, the Emirates club said they will reimburse supporters who have already paid for their seats.
Ex- Chelsea and Ghana icon Michael Essien admitted he would have loved to have played with Arsenal target Thomas Partey.
Partey is also Ghanaian and has been linked with the Gunners for months.
And Essien told South African reporter Carol Tshabalala: “Thomas is such a good player. I’d have loved to play with him.
“He is a young and talented player making waves in Europe.
“He is one player I’d liked to play alongside but it will never happen.
“It is their time at the Black Stars now so we have to support them and hopefully they can take it from where we left off.”
Essien currently plays for Azerbaijani club Sabail
Mauricio Pochettino went for a coffee with Unai Emery after they lost their jobs last season.
The North London bosses were sacked within ten days of each other but both will be remembered very differently at their respective clubs.
Pochettino told the Guardian: “
Before the pandemic, me and Jesús met with Unai for a coffee, to talk and share our experiences.
“We were working in different clubs, we were at the enemy, and people were walking past and saying: 'Unai and Pochettino and Jesús are now sharing a coffee!'
“It was in Cockfosters [in north London]. It was very funny.”
Three Premier League clubs are in talks to have cardboard cout-out of real fans in their stadiums when football returns.
The 'Stay at Home – Be at the Game' project lets supported upload a picture of themselves to used on a lifesize cardboard cut out and a trio of Prem clubs are considering it.
At £20 each, some of the money will be donated to help the NHS in their battle against Covid-19.
Top US sporting bodies like the NBA, Serie A and MLS have also shown an interest as international sport looks set to return behind closed doors in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.
TAGLIAFICO TO ARSENAL EXCLUSIVE
Arsenal are chasing Ajax star Nicolas Tagliafico in a £20m deal – as Mikel Arteta searches for a new left-back.
The Gunners are understood to be keen on a left-back this summer, to allow Bukayo Saka to move naturally further up the pitch and provide cover for the injury-prone but highly-rated Kieran Tierney.
Tagliafico is is open to a move to the Emirates, and believed to want to test himself in the Premier League next season.
The full-back has been touted around Europe, and his reps have had contact from clubs during the Covid-19 break.
On top of this, he has an agreement with Ajax to let him leave this summer, as long as an acceptable offer comes in.
GOOD MORNING, ARSENAL FANS
Mikel Arteta looked as perky and healthy as ever as the Arsenal boss confirmed both his own recovery from coronavirus and the return of serious training.
The Spaniard’s positive Covid-19 test in March was the trigger for the suspension of football across the country.
But Arteta oversaw – from a distance – stars like David Luiz, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Shkodran Mustafi during strictly-controlled, socially-distanced practice sessions.
Talking of skipper Aubameyang, Gunners fans have been pulling their hair out with frustration this summer – amid continuing stories linking the striker with numerous other clubs – now including PSG.
But this time the suggestion was that the Gabon superstar had been doing something like that himself – as photos posted by Arsenal showed his lockdown locks in a rather unflattering manner.
At least speculation over a switch to a major Premier League rival seems to have faded – with Chelsea even briefly mentioned, along with longer-term admirers Manchester United.
Meanwhile, centre-back Mustafi has been linked with AC Milan – despite his improved form since Arteta took over.
Todo Fichajes claim the Germany ace, 28, is not part of Arsenal's long-term plan.
The Gunners and Chelsea are both said to be tracking 18-year-old full-back Kaan Kurt, who has been playing in the German fourth tier for Borussia Monchengladbach II.
The Wag held for bringing a stun gun into the UK was the wife of Arsenal’s Sead Kolasinac.
Anxious Bella Kolasinac, 27, bought the weapon for protection following a knife attack on her husband and Gunners team-mate Mesut Ozil in the street last year.
Security fears saw her flee to Germany soon after and she obtained a legal permit there to carry an “electro shocker”.
But she did not realise the powerful device was illegal in Britain — and yesterday The Sun told how she was held by Border Force officers at London Biggin Hill Airport when it was found in her luggage.
She could have been jailed for six months for importing a banned weapon but was let off with a caution after the flight from Frankfurt on Sunday.
A spokesman for Kolasinac, 26, said: “It was all a misunderstanding. The electro shocker was still in its packaging and didn’t have any batteries.
“Bella was able to prove she sent emails to the flight operators to make sure she could import it.”
NO SIGN OF PEPE PAYBACK
Jeremie Aliadiere has his doubts about Nicolas Pepe's £72million transfer fee.
The former Arsenal striker said: “I saw what he did with Lille last season and he is an amazing player.
“So, I’m not denying his talent.
“What I’m seeing, though, is the most expensive player in Arsenal’s history and even if you don’t want to think about the money, the fact is that money is, unfortunately, a big thing in football.
“And when you spend that much money on a player, you expect more goals and you expect more assists.”
BAYERN DECLINE TO PAY COUTINHO FEE
Bayern Munich will spark more talk of Philippe Coutinho returning to the Premier League by declining to pay a £110million option to buy the Barcelona playmaker.
Chelsea, Manchester United, Aarsenal and even old club Liverpool have been linked with the Brazil star, 27, although financial restraints due to the coronavirus pandemic make a summer transfer less likely.
Bayern chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge told Der Spiegel: “The option expired and “we haven't activated it.
“Now we're going to draw up squad planning internally (for next season) and we'll see if he still has a role to play with us or not.”
Coutinho started just 15 of Bayern's 25 games, coming on as substitute eight times, before the Covid-19 lockdown halted football action.
But with Barca insisting he could still have a role back at the Nou Camp, he hopes to impress now the Bundesliga has restarted.
Mikel Arteta led the way at Arsenal training yesterday to show he has made a full recovery from coronavirus.
The Spaniard’s positive Covid-19 test in March was the trigger for the suspension of football across the country.
But Arteta was pictured back on the grass at London Colney and Gunners stars David Luiz, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Shkodran Mustafi looked happy to see their fit-again boss again during the social distancing session.
As Arsenal continued to prepare for Project Restart next month, Premier League clubs have been asked how they want to finish the season in a shock move.
Officials are keen to know what way the table would be settled if the full 38-game campaign does not end.It is the first step towards a vote on the ideal outcome and one that will get the necessary 14-club backing.
The plan is still to play on and restart the matches next month, but a date has not been decided yet and the Prem need a set plan if that fails.
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