Friday Kickoff: Wenger signs new Arsenal deal; Barcelona linked with Koke; and more

Arsene Wenger manager / head coach of Arsenal

Photo by ISIPhotos.com

By DAN KARELL

It’s official. Arsene Wenger will remain Arsenal manager through June 2017. 

Following a report from the BBC, Arsenal confirmed on Friday morning that Wenger has signed a new three-year deal that will take his tenure at Arsenal to more than 20 years as manager. Wenger became Arsenal manager in Oct. 1996 after managing Nagoya Grampus in Japan.

“I want to stay and to continue to develop the team and the club,” Wenger said in a statement. “We are entering a very exciting period. We have a strong squad, financial stability and huge support around the world. We are all determined to bring more success to this club.

“The club has always shown faith in me and I’m very grateful for that. We have gone through fantastic periods and also periods where we have had to stick together. Every time when that togetherness was tested I got the right response. I think I have shown some loyalty as well towards this club and hopefully we can make some more history. I am sure we can.”

Wenger, 64, led Arsenal to a 17th consecutive UEFA Champions League spot as well as winning the club’s 11th FA Cup this past season. There was plenty of talk that Wenger could have left the club and he left a contract offer on the table, but he has decided he’s still fit to manage the club for another three years.

Here are some more stories to start your Friday:

BARCELONA READY TO PAY UP FOR KOKE

Barcelona is in full-on rebuilding mode this summer, and the club is willing to spend a major amount of money again this summer to return to their winning ways.

One player that’s on new head coach Luis Enrique’s radar is Atletico Madrid midfielder Koke, who is reportedly seen as a player who will soon take over for Xavi Hernandez in midfield. Acquiring Koke wouldn’t be cheap though.

Atletico are unwilling to sell Koke outright, and it will only take a bid of €60 million, Koke’s buy-out clause, to force Atletico to sell their midfield star. Koke, to his credit, told reporters in Spain he’s happy at Atletico and feels very comfortable at the club.

QUICK KICKS

Steven Gerrard has backed Wayne Rooney to have a big World Cup after the England striker received criticism from former teammate Paul Scholes. (REPORT)

UEFA has ordered a partial closure of the Santiago Bernabeu stadium next season due to racist chants from a section of Real Madrid fans against Bayern Munich. (REPORT)

Manchester City have reportedly made a £17 million offer for AS Roma starting centerback Mehdi Benatia. (REPORT)

Liverpool are just hours away from completing a £4 million move to sign Southampton and England forward Ricky Lambert. (REPORT)

Celtic are looking at former Man United midfielder Roy Keane as their next manager. (REPORT)

Arsenal right back Bakary Sagna has confirmed he will leave the club this summer, with Manchester City his likely destination. (REPORT)

The Mexican Football Federation ruled out a “major injury” for goalkeeper Jose de Jesus Corona though the veteran suffered a mild concussion and is wearing a neck brace. (REPORT)

Turkey topped Honduras at RFK Stadium, 2-0, thanks to two second half goals from substitutes. (REPORT)

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What do you think of these reports? What is your reaction to Wenger signing a new contract? Do you see Koke moving to Barcelona? Think Rooney could have a big World Cup?

Share your thoughts below.

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25 Responses to Friday Kickoff: Wenger signs new Arsenal deal; Barcelona linked with Koke; and more

  1. Jim says:

    Great news about Wenger, now I can comfortably slot Arsenal in 4th place for next year’s PL results.

    • Raymon says:

      They are 1 or 2 signings away from being contenders for 1-2 position in all leagues and tournaments they compete in, including UCL. I’ll bet you some bitcoin on that.

      • Vik says:

        You could say that about them every year. Instead they lose one or two starting players and at best only pick up replacements.

  2. Juan Villatoro says:

    Most overrated coach in the world at one point he only fielded one English player…good to see mourinho putting him in his place…French snob

    • reignman says:

      How does how many english players he fielded have any relevance at all to his coaching ability? Also he is far from overrated, numerous people have wanted him gone for years, a lot of the sheen has worn off of him.

    • Tony in Quakeland says:

      Not only do I not give a rats bottom about how many English players he fields, I note with irony that right now he probably has more good English players on his squad than any of the major teams.

      • Nate Dollars says:

        liverpool?

        (not bothering to check, because i also don’t give a f_ck.)

        • Tony in Quakeland says:

          They were the only one that popped into mind as a possiblity. But over the last two or three years, I think it’s Arsenal. either way, it shows up ne of hte many ironies about the complaint…

  3. Alex says:

    Is it just me or would barcelona be absolutely crazy to splash 60mil for Koke? I mean, Christ, they already have Fabregas who has been Xavi’s heir apparent for years now, and this Sergi Roberto fellow seems to be acquitting himself well. I don’t know, it just seems to me as if Barcelona has other priorities they need to address.

    • bryan says:

      yeah but if they get slapped with a transfer ban next time around for an entire season, i guess they figure why not stock up?

  4. Benjamin C. says:

    A number of interesting friendlies over the weekend that will interest U.S. fans, starting tomorrow with Ghana v. Netherlands and Portugal v. Greece and concluding Sunday with the match against Turkey and Germany v. Cameroon. Things are heating up.

    • jones says:

      Thanks for the heads up. I probably won’t be able to watch much this weekend but will definitely look out for the results. Getting excited!

    • Increase says:

      I watch Honduras vs Turkey. Honduras held up well until the fact that their subs are no where near as good as Turkey’s caught up with them.

      Honduras was always going to have trouble scoring but for the first half Turkey didn’t seem to have much of a shot either.

      I will say that Nuri Sahin didn’t even play. Something tells me he will vs the US.

  5. Steven C says:

    4 million pounds for Ricky Lambert seems kinda… cheap.

    • Steven C says:

      *Rickie

    • reignman says:

      I would guess it probably has a lot to do with his age but seems odd for Southampton to sell him

    • Nate Dollars says:

      i’m guessing it’s because he’s getting up there in years. hard to believe he’s that old already, but he’s had a pretty long career.

    • Increase says:

      Age and late development although, one could argue is just as good as Rooney if you go by Goal to game ratio.

      Both he and Rooney basically have a 1 goal every 2 games for their teams.

    • Helium-3 says:

      Yep, noticed the same. Sell him and buy younger version; Will Bruin. Don’t know if he would qualify for a work permit though. Bruin is only 24 so he’s got 8 yrs of upside.

  6. JimmyBobo says:

    Soccer dudes, somebody answer this question for me. Didn’t Houston Dynamo sign a Spanish player a couple of years ago named Koke? I remember the deal fell apart and the player never showed up. No way it could be the same Koke, right?

  7. Mikey K says:

    Lol, Barcelona linked with Koke. That makes it sound illegal actively is going on haha.

  8. Paul says:

    Stan Kroenke is surely happy to have Wenger back.