Double delight awaits Arsenal boss Unai Emery in his first season as manager of the Gunners after he took over from long-serving Arsene Wenger at the Emirates Stadium.
Arsenal legend Robert Pires believes this is the case with both a top four spot as well as the Europa League silverware heading for north London. Emery’s men get the chance to secure another three points when they host Newcastle United in the top-flight in their first game since the international break (apart from a 3-2 win in a friendly match in Dubai midweek) on Monday.
The Gunners are currently fourth, a point behind rivals Tottenham Hotspur and with both Manchester United and Chelsea fighting for a cherished position in the top four with the qualification for the Champions League the obvious incentive.
Pires, who won clutch of honours with the Gunners in a six-year spell in north London, said: “I think Unai Emery is a good manager, he’s won some titles with Sevilla, with Paris Saint-Germain. For the end of the season, he has two targets: to reach the top four and — why not? — to win the Europa League competition.
“That’s why Arsenal are in a very good way and that’s why I’m very confident and very positive always when I talk about Arsenal. I think they can reach both targets. Of course, it will be very difficult, but the squad is very good, we have good quality. All the players now they are very confident, especially Mesut Ozil — because he is one of the best players in the Premier League. So that’s why Unai Emery, the squad, they are very confident for the two targets — the top four and why not lift the Europa League trophy?”
Meanwhile, Arsenal chiefs are said to have held talks with Barcelona about recruiting Samuel Umtiti this summer. The Gunners are reportedly battling Premier League rivals Manchester United for the signature of the Frenchman, who has been put up for sale by the Catalans.
Barcelona want to get rid of Umtiti to raise transfer funds for their summer targets and have a host of clubs vying for his services. It is being claimed that Arsenal’s director of football Raul Sanllehi has been in touch with his counterpart at Barcelona, Eric Abidal, about signing the player. But it is being reported that they may be priced out of any deal for the 25-year-old ace. Barcelona are said to value the stopper at between £60million and £77million, which could well be out of Arsenal’s price range.
The Gunners have also been linked with a £13million move for Eibar midfielder Joan Jordan to replace the Juventus-bound Aaron Ramsey. And Brazilian winger Gabriel Martinelli has emerged a target for boss Emery, too, it is claimed.
Celtic defender Kieran Tierney has also been linked with a switch from Parkhead to the Emirates Stadium and if he was to make the move it is expected that a fee of at least £25million would be needed to complete his recruitment.