PHILIPPE COUTINHO has got Arsenal fans very excited by following Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Cedric Soares and Gabriel Martinelli on Instagram.
Meanwhile Mesut Ozil has declared he will stay at the Emirates next season and Willian is closing in on his Gunners switch.
Get all the latest news and transfer gossip from North London here...
GOOD MORNING ARSENAL FANS
Football fans will finally begin returning to stadiums next month — but might not be allowed to sing.
A further easing of lockdown rules announced last night will also see snooker lovers back in the Crucible this weekend for the World Championship.
Trials of allowing some fans back in stadiums will be tested later that month ahead of a planned full rollout in October.
And what did you make of the Mesut Ozil shaped bombshell that fell on the football world yesterday then?
On his side against the billionaires who could easily afford his salary and those of the 55 made redundant?
Or think he’s a selfish money-grabber with no regard for the club, its staff or its fans?
Opinion splitting Ozil spoke to the Athletic and insisted he will stay at Arsenal until his deal expires next summer and said: “I'll decide when I go, not others.”
The German also expressed “disappointment” with Arsenal after the club refused to criticise China over its Uighur Muslim killings.
Ozil also claimed he felt rushed into the pay-cut decision and said the club left questions un-answered as they pressured the Gunners’ squad into saying yes.
In transfers, Willian’s move to the Emirates will reportedly be “announced soon and is decided”, according to his agent Kia Joorabchian.
The Gunners were also joined by Juventus in the Thomas Partey race and the Atletico star is 'very interested' in joining the Italians.
And in another blow Napoli reportedly 'agreed terms with Lille defender Gabriel Magalhaes' but that could mean Kalidou Koulibaly could now leave.
Young Arsenal prospect Zech Medley also joined League One side Gillingham on a season-long loan with the 20-year-old hoping for more game time.
Away from transfers, it emerged ex-Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger reportedly ‘turned down the Barcelona job’ with Quique Setien’s future in the balance.
Finally, Premier League stars were warned to STOP posting holiday snaps on social media over quarantine fears on their UK return.
And next season, the Prem is set for fixture chaos at start of the campaign with the initial four rounds of the Carabao Cup crammed into the first month.
FA Cup replays were also AXED for 2020/21 in a desperate bid to get the competition finished in the jam-packed campaign.
And FA CUP prize money has been slashed by half for next season as the financial crash in football because of Covid-19 continues to bite.
Spectators will be made to sign up to a new code of behaviour.
It will make them take full responsibility for themselves and others by not attending if they have Covid symptoms or have been exposed to anyone with them.
And strict crowd management plans will be enforced with one-way entry and exit and staggered arrival times.
Seating will be socially distanced and hand washing and sanitiser stations set up.
But no trials are scheduled for the North West, which remains under stricter control.
CROWDS COMING BACK!
Football fans will finally begin returning to stadiums next month — but might not be allowed to sing.
A further easing of lockdown rules announced tonight will also see snooker lovers back in the Crucible this weekend for the World Championship.
Rugby matches and racing at Goodwood are also on the list of approved “pilot” events in the coming weeks.
But capacity will be capped and all fans will likely be urged not to chant or shout for fear of spreading the virus.
The new Premier League season starts on September 12.
Trials of allowing some fans back in stadiums will be tested later that month ahead of a planned full rollout in October…
PAIN IN THE ARSENAL
Willian's agent has slammed Arsenal’s previous transfer policy by accusing the club’s former head of recruitment Sven Mislintat of “cock ups”.
Kia Joorabchian – who represents Cedric Soares, David Luiz and Gunners bound Willian – has been labelled as having too much influence on Arsenal’s transfers since Mislintat left his role in January 2019.
But when asked about his links with Arsenal’s dealings the super-agent took a swipe at Mislintat.
He told talkSPORT: “People forget about the previous guy, Sven.
“He made a bunch of cock-ups with players he brought in at very, very large numbers.”
TAKE YOUR EMER-PICK
Arsenal are asking fans to choose their goal-of-the-season and have put this Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang free-kick up for selection.
🎙 "OH, WONDERFUL STUFF FROM PIERRE-EMERICK AUBAMEYANG!"
🏆 Is this @Aubameyang7 free-kick your Goal of the Season?
🗳 Cast your vote 👇
— Arsenal (@Arsenal) August 13, 2020
EA Sports have released their latest trailer for Fifa 21, ahead of the game’s October 6 release date.
The promo focuses on career mode, which appears to have had quite the revamp.
Vice-president of EA Nick Wlodyka told Goal: “The Career Mode is very important for this year.
“We’ve really made the biggest investments we’ve ever made to make sure we’re delivering exactly what our players are asking for.
“We’ve had so much feedback over the past few years from our players wanting to see more things they can control in career mode.
“We listened to what they want to be able to do, things they haven’t been able to do in the past.”
That will be a hammer blow to clubs down the football pyramid who are operating hand to mouth in order to survive.
League One and Two clubs will also see a dramatic reduction of prize money when they enter the competition, with a victory in the second round dropping in value from £54,000 to £34,000.
With big paydays in terms of plum draws against Premier League sides also off the table because of the lack of capacity crowds, the cut in prize fund will add to the misery of those hardest hit.
The winners of the FA Cup will collect £1.8million instead of the £3.6m Arsenal received for beating Chelsea earlier this month.
WHAT THE CUP?!
FA Cup prize money has been slashed by half for next season as the financial crash in football because of Covid-19 continues to bite.
The Football Association have been forced to lower the money forked out to teams across the competition – hitting those most in need the hardest.
Semi-pro and lower league teams are fighting for their survivals following the coronavirus pandemic and many were hoping a decent Cup run might be able to keep them alive.
Last year teams who won a game in the extra preliminary round were awarded £2,250 while the losers collected £750 – but those payments have been reduced to £1,125 and £325 respectively.
Winning a fourth qualifying round tie to make the First Round proper had been worth £18,750 to a club, but next season that reward is slashed to just £9,375…
Manchester United have been dealt a blow after Napoli were said to have agreed terms with Gabriel Magalhaes – with Kalidou Koulibaly now set to quit.
A host of Premier League clubs – including Arsenal and Tottenham – were interested in the £22million-rated Lille centre-back.
His brother and sister even started following the Gunners on Instagram.
But Napoli appear to have won the race for Magalhaes, according to Manchester Evening News.
NO MOUR OF THAT
Jose Mourinho accused Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg's agent of trying to get him to Arsenal.
Hojbjerg's agent Kia Joorabchian has close links with Arsenal but is adamant he did no such thing.
He told TalkSport: “When a story picks up, it goes.
“I was talking to Jose after Pierre signed [for Tottenham] and he said, 'Ah, you were trying to get him to Arsenal'.
“We never tried to get him to Arsenal. He had an offer from Everton.
“A rumour picks up and people kind of think, oh that sounds good, let’s try and build on that because we have nothing else to write.”
Willian will complete his free transfer to Arsenal this weekend after leaving Chelsea, according to reports.
The Brazilian star, 32, is rumoured to have agreed to a three-year contract worth £100,00 a week with the Gunners.
Talks over a new contract at Stamford Bridge stalled after Blues chiefs refused to offer more than two years.
On Thursday, Willian’s agent, Kia Joorabchian, confirmed his client’s next career move would be announced soon.
And now, the Daily Mail have claimed it will be to Arsenal – and will be as early as this weekend.
HOLD THE PHONE
Rob Holding says his favourite game in an Arsenal shirt was this season's FA Cup final victory over Chelsea at Wembley.
It reads: “Those at the bottom of the merit table, and those who complete fewer than 10 matches, do not qualify.
“Payments to those who complete fewer than 20 matches are discounted (by 40 per cent up to 14 matches and 15 per cent up to 19).
“The distribution is otherwise based on a set number of “shares” which are split in the manner specified in the document, with the first ranked referee receiving the most shares.
“A further email is sent on behalf of Mr Riley after the end of the season referring to PGMOL's Board having confirmed the size of the pot.
“The maximum payment for 2014-15 was around £3,500 and the lowest was under £700.
“Mr Riley's evidence was that merit payments would be made as indicated unless the referee group had had a 'catastrophic' season, which he thought might happen if the EFL was dissatisfied with the overall level of service.”
Premier League referees will receive a performance-related bonus – despite a season of shoddy officiating.
Despite the unpopular introduction of VAR, officials will yet again pocket some extra cash as they have done in previous campaigns.
A meeting will be held on September 12 to decide on the bonus figure each referee will receive although the total amount remains unknown.
All referees in each four divisions who have taken charge of more than ten games are eligible.
That is unless they have endured a “catastrophic” season, according to Sky Sports.
According to court documents written by Premier League referee chief Mike Riley, it informs refs of the size of their bonus…
SNAP IT SHUT
Premier League stars have been warned to STOP sharing holiday snaps on social media over fears of their quarantine whereabouts on their return to the UK.
Top-flight clubs are set to kick off their pre-season plans as early as next week following a condensed summer break.
A hatful of players are currently enjoying a quick break in the sun – with the likes of Dele Alli, Jack Grealish, James Maddison and Frank Lampard all making the most of their few weeks off.
But now Sportsmail have claimed stars have been urged to ditch social media in a bid to avoid awkward questions surrounding their whereabouts during periods of self-isolation.
Spanish hot-spots such as Marbella and Ibiza are favourites amongst the world's best footballers.
TAKE A LEAF OUT OF MY BOOK
Hector Bellerin claims he has had 50,000 trees planted as a result of his fundraising efforts.
He said on Instagra: “Started with a cause to raise awareness of a global need to plant trees and offset carbon emissions.
“Got told we wouldn’t plant any…
”50,000 trees now planted.
“Thank you to everyone who supported and played a part. @onetreeplanted”
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang showed his generosity after paying for a 7-a-side match in Italy and gifting every player a Gunners shirt.
The former AC Milan youth player was visiting his brothers Willy and Catilina, before they showed up to a football centre in Varese.
According to Gazzetta, the game also featured ex-Belarusian striker Vitali Kutuzov, who lives in the area, as well as rapper Fabio Rizzo.
Aubameyang’s team all wore Arsenal shirts and the forward then made sure he paid for the pitch.
The 31-year-old also handed out Gunners shirts for all the players to keep.
Aubameyang in 2016, when playing for Borussia Dortmund, played in a tournament at the Franco Ossola stadium, situated in Varese.
IT WON’T BE LONG
Kia Joorabchian also confirmed the announcement of Willian’s transfer to Arsenal is imminent.
He told talkSPORT: “It won’t be long before we announce it. We know where he is going.”
Kia Joorabchian has launched a scathing attack on Arsenal’s recruitment policy, despite the fact that one of his clients is about to sign for them.
Joorabchian laid into to former sporting director Sven Mislintat for the Gunners’ recent transfer flops.
He told talkSPORT: “People forget about the previous guy, Sven.
“He made a bunch of, I don't like to use the word, but, cock-ups with players he brought in at very, very large numbers.”
ONE 'N DONE
Replays have been ditched from every round of the FA Cup next season to make sure the competition gets played, reports DUNCAN WRIGHT.
Ties will all be decided in one day from the extra preliminary round on September 1 right through to the final on May 15.
FA bosses have been forced to make the unprecedented change in order to cram their competition into what is fast becoming a crazily packed fixture programme.
The qualifying rounds will be resolved by the end of October, before the first round proper sees teams from Leagues One and Two enter the tournament on November 7.
Third round ties will be played on or around January 9 when Premier League and Championship sides enter the competition.
Teams throughout the leagues are facing major problems getting their games played, with the first four rounds of the Carabao Cup now confirmed to be crammed into September.
Ghana boss Charles Akonnor told has urged Thomas Partey to avoid joining Arsenal.
He told Ghanaian radio: “I honestly wouldn't want Thomas Partey to join Arsenal.
“That is because with Atletico Madrid, he will always play in the Champions League.
“His position is guaranteed, and he will always play.
“It will be difficult for Arsenal to qualify for the Champions League, so I would urge him to stay in Madrid.
“Arsenal fans will kill me for saying this!”
Ozil added: “I have given a lot to Arsenal, on and off the pitch, so the reaction was disappointing.
“They said they don’t get involved in politics but this isn’t politics and they have got involved in other issues.
“In America, we saw George Floyd killed and the world spoke up to say Black Lives Matter, and that is correct.
“We are all equal and it’s a good thing that people fight against injustice.
“There are a lot of black players and fans of Arsenal and it’s fantastic the club is backing them.
“But I wish people would have done the same for the Muslims because Arsenal have many Muslim players and fans as well, and it is important for the world to say that Muslim Lives Matter.”
'EVERY HUMAN IS EQUAL'
Mesut Ozil was “disappointed” with Arsenal after their failure to back his views over the Uighur killings in China.
Ozil took to Instagram in December to speak out against the persecution of fellow Muslims in north west Xianjiang.
And now the 31-year-old has revealed what he thought of Arsenal’s decision to distance the club from the views expressed by their midfielder.
Ozil told the Athletic: “Every human is equal.
“It doesn’t matter what religion or colour you are – Muslim, Christian, Jew, black, white or anything else. We are all the same.
“What I said was not against Chinese people, it was against whoever is doing this to the Uighur Muslims and other people who are not helping them, such as other Muslim countries.”
The first FOUR rounds of the Carabao Cup will be crammed into the first month of the season in order to get the competition played, writes DUNCAN WRIGHT.
EFL bosses have been forced to get creative with the fixture list in order for their cup tournament to be staged following the delayed start to the new season.
The first round, involving EFL sides, will be played on September 5 – one week before the league campaigns are due to kick-off.
Then rounds two, three and four will be staged each midweek from September 15/16 – which will include the Premier League sides.
Top flight teams enter the tournament in the second round, except for those involved in European competitions who come in a round later.
The condensed timescale mean Premier League clubs are expected to play a minimum of SIX matches in the first three weeks of the new season – every weekend and midweek from September 12.
KEYBOARD WARRIOR TRACKED DOWN
The Premier League has revealed it went after a fan in Singapore for threatening and abusive messages received by Brighton’s Neal Maupay, following his argument with Matteo Guendouzi.
They said in a statement:
Threatening and abusive messages received by the player were reported to the Premier League via its online abuse reporting system.
Premier League investigators believe that they have tracked the location of the person responsible to Singapore and have now filed an official police complaint.
The Premier League is liaising with local authorities and will support all subsequent legal action on behalf of Neal Maupay.
Premier League chief executive Richard Masters said: “The abuse Neal received is wholly unacceptable.
“We responded immediately to seek justice on his behalf, which in this case meant identifying the perpetrator, tracking them to where they live, and then pursuing legal action accordingly.”