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‘Arsenal have been badly damaged’ – Arteta

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The Spaniard says he has been trying to rebuild a broken bond since succeeding Unai Emery as the Gunners’ permanent manager

Mikel Arteta says he was “shocked” by the split between fans and the team upon his return to Emirates Stadium, with it his belief that Arsenal have been “badly damaged”.

The Gunners turned to their former captain to steady the ship after deciding to sack Unai Emery in November 2019.

Emery was relieved of his duties after overseeing a seven-match winless run, having been hired to replace legendary manager Arsene Wenger 18 months earlier.

Arteta’s only previous coaching experience had come at Manchester City, where he spent three years as Pep Guardiola’s assistant, but he has since proven his credentials by transforming Arsenal back into a formidable force.

Arsenal finished their last Premier League campaign in impressive fashion under the 38-year-old, and he also masterminded a thrilling run to FA Cup glory, which ended with a 2-1 final victory over Chelsea at Wembley.

Arteta has been attempting to build on that platform at the beginning of the 2020-21 season, with mixed results, and has warned that the “puzzle” he is piecing together at the Emirates will take time to complete.

“You cannot build something new [quickly], when something has been damaged and hurt badly, that you can see a big split between even our own fans and the team,” he told the Gunners’ official website. “When you were in that stadium 10 months ago, I was shocked.

“You have to rebuild that [bond]. In order to do that you have to build some foundations, and afterwards start a process. You have to prioritise that process at the start, and where you are going to get to.

“To do that you need some pieces that have to fill in there, and you have to start to create a puzzle and try to manage it because there will be bad moments and you don’t want to break it.

“All the time you have to be very alert because it takes very little to break what you are building.”

The Gunners are scheduled to return to Premier League action away at Leeds United on Sunday.

Arteta saw his side comfortably beaten at home by Aston Villa before the international break, but will be expected to get back to winning ways at Elland Road.

Arsenal will turn their attention to a Europa League meeting with Molde four days later, before preparations for a tough trip to Wolves at the end of the month get under way.

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Former Barcelona & Chelsea star Fabregas ‘disappointed’ in Guardiola but still considers Mourinho a ‘friend’

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The Spanish midfielder, who now plies his trade in France with Monaco, has opened up on his relationship with two of his former managers

Former Barcelona and Chelsea star Cesc Fabregas has expressed “disappointment” in his old mentor Pep Guardiola, while revealing he still considers Jose Mourinho a “friend” to this day.

Guardiola lured Fabregas to Camp Nou from Arsenal back in 2011, having seen him emerge as one of the best midfielders in Europe at Emirates Stadium.

Barca went on to win four major trophies during the Spaniard’s first full season at the club, but ultimately missed out on La Liga and Champions League honours.

Guardiola decided to call time on his four-year reign in Catalunya at the end of the campaign, and took a 12-month sabbatical before returning to management at Bayern Munich.

Fabregas says he hasn’t spoken to the 49-year-old, who is now in charge at Manchester City, since his departure from Camp Nou, and has hinted that the pair’s relationship has been damaged beyond repair.

Asked if he’s been in contact with Guardiola at all over the past eight years, the Monaco playmaker told CCMA: “No, no, with Pep nothing at all.

“I don’t know if the disappointment with Pep is mutual. Things happened, but I prefer not to talk about it. Pep was my idol since I was a child. It is from him that I have learned the most, perhaps, since I was four until now.”

Fabregas eventually left Barca to join Chelsea in 2014, and went on to pick up his first Premier League title under Mourinho.

The 33-year-old has credited a man currently occupying the hot seat at Tottenham for helping him to rediscover his best form at Stamford Bridge, having previously seen him as a rival during his time at Arsenal and Barca.

Mourinho inspired me the most when I left Barca,” Fabregas added.

“He told me that we had had our issues on the pitch when he was at Chelsea and I was at Arsenal and then when he was coaching at Real Madrid and I was at Barcelona, but that for him, it all ended there. We turned the page.

“He told me about his project. I had to go where I thought I would do best, the decision was mine and it didn’t depend on what people said. I prioritised the professional [aspect], and today I still write to him and I consider him a friend.

“He helped me a lot at a difficult time in my career and perhaps I played one of my best seasons with him.”

Fabregas brought the curtain down on a hugely successful five-year spell at Chelsea when he signed for Monaco last year, and will be back in action when the French outfit play host to reigning Ligue 1 champions Paris Saint-Germain on Friday.

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‘I’m tired of always being everyone’s problem’ – Messi

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The Blaugrana skipper has responded following some scathing criticism from his teammate’s relative Emmanuel Lopes over his conduct at Camp Nou

Lionel Messi has fired back at claims that he is responsible for Antoine Griezmann’s failure to acclimatise to life at Barcelona, with the Argentine stating that he is fed up of shouldering the blame for failures within the club.

The Blaugrana skipper’s response comes after both the France striker’s uncle and former agent criticised the veteran striker, citing him as the root of all problems at Camp Nou.

Messi and Barcelona have endured a tempestuous relationship over the past year, ignited by the club’s decline in matters both on and off the field. The Blaugrana finished the 2019-20 campaign empty-handed in search of silverware, ending with a humiliating 8-2 loss to Bayern in the Champions League quarter-final.

The Albiceleste captain, upon returning from the international break, delivered a curt response to pressing reporters upon his arrival at El Prat Airport, with Goal confirming that the 33-year-old also had an encounter with a tax inspector seeking documentation beforehand that further irritated the weary star.

“I’m tired of always being everyone’s problem at the club,” Messi stated to a crush of reporters. “I get here after a 15-hour flight and I find a tax agent here, it’s ridiculous.”

Messi will be expected to feature in Barca’s next match following the international break, with high-flying Atleti providing a chance for Griezmann to reunite with his former side on Saturday.

 

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