Arsenal

Arsenal transfer news: £85m striker interest, homegrown trio to leave, plus Bayern UCL reaction

Reaction to Arsenal’s Champions League quarter-final draw with Bayern Munich
Arsenal have been drawn with Bayern Munich for the Champions League quarter-finals – an opponent fans know all too well.

It’s a huge tie, one that certainly comes with a bit of scar tissue for Arsenal, given what happened the last time the sides met in this competition. But it’s not a tie that Arsenal will approach with any fear. They will respect Bayern, but they will absolutely believe they can beat them. This is the sort of tie Arsenal have been longing for over the past seven years while they have been trying to establish themselves back amongst Europe’s elite.

Bayern may not be having a great season by their standards, but they know how to get the job done in Europe. They have been there and done it so many times, something Arsenal obviously have not. The narrative ahead of the game will be about Harry Kane, who is having a superb individual debut season in Germany. He loves a goal against Arsenal, particularly a penalty, and so William Saliba and Gabriel Magalhaes will have to be at their very best to stop him, as well as the likes of Serge Gnabry, Jamal Musiala and Leroy Sane. But Arsenal’s two centre-backs have shown they thrive against the best and will relish showing what they can do on this type of stage.

And this Arsenal team won’t spend too much time worrying about Bayern. They will do their homework obviously, Mikel Arteta and his coaching staff will ensure they are well versed in what threats the Germans possess. But Arsenal back themselves against anyone now. The preparation ahead of the two ties won’t be ‘how can we stop Bayern?’ It will be ‘how can we hurt Bayern?’. They will look to take the game to them and I think they are more than capable of doing that.

I think it’s going to be a fantastic two games. A Champions League tie to really look forward to.

Ben White doesn’t have to play for England if he doesn’t want to

I’ve been really uncomfortable with the reaction that Ben White’s decision to not make himself available for England has been met with. Some of the views, from people who really should know better, have been archaic to say the least.

Harry Redknapp labelled White’s decision to opt out of England selection as ‘disgusting’, which quite frankly is a joke. Redknapp has no idea what he is talking about and the way he was speaking made it seem like White was refusing to go to war. White doesn’t owe England or Gareth Southgate anything. He has no responsibility to England. He has a responsibility to Arsenal, who are his employers, but that’s it. If he doesn’t want to play for England, then he doesn’t have to.

The fact is White doesn’t feel comfortable around the national team set-up at present. I don’t know the ins and outs of what happened during the World Cup, but there was clearly a bit of a disagreement with Steve Holland and for White, that was the tipping point and he decided it was time to go home. And if that’s what makes him happy then he has every right to do that. Mental health is so important nowadays. We can’t all praise players for speaking out about their mental health on one hand and then suddenly criticise others for making a decision that they feel is in their best interests.

Ben White is as focused about football as any other elite player. You talk to anyone at Arsenal and they will say the same thing. No-one trains harder or works harder than Ben White. Just because he doesn’t go home and watch match after match on the TV doesn’t mean he isn’t fully committed to the game and his club. Mikel Arteta demands absolute professionalism from his players. If they don’t show that, they are swiftly shown the door. But White has been rewarded with a new contract that Arteta and Edu were desperate for him to sign and that tells you all you need to know about his character and how he is behind the scenes.

White has been carrying an injury throughout the season, but he consistently plays through the pain barrier. He is absolutely committed to everything he does. So instead of people pointing the finger at White following his decision to opt out of playing for England, they should probably be asking why a player at the peak of his powers does not feel comfortable working with the current England coaching set-up.

Viktor Gyokeres will be on Arsenal’s radar but the transfer looks a bit of a gamble
We know Arsenal are interested in signing a striker this summer, and one name we’ve seen linked a lot is Viktor Gyokeres, who has been a revelation since joining Sporting Lisbon from Coventry City last summer.

Gyokeres’ numbers this season certainly suggest he’s good enough for a big move and it will be a surprise if he doesn’t get one this summer, given what he has been doing for Sporting since his move last year. It’s no secret that Arsenal will be in the market to sign a top striker at the end of the season and Gyokeres will certainly be on their list of potential targets.

Whether he is near the top of that list, however, I just don’t know at this stage. At 25, he’s the right sort of age, but this is his first season in a top league and with a release clause of £85m, it would be a bit of a gamble on a relatively inexperienced forward. That doesn’t mean it won’t happen and he’s certainly a player to keep an eye on when it comes to Arsenal, but I don’t know yet whether they will try and get a deal done.

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