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Arsenal skipper Koscielny to sit out US tour

Club ‘disappointed’ with player's refusal to join pre-season tour

12 July, 2019 — By Steve Barnett

ARSENAL skipper Laurent Koscielny has “refused” to travel with the squad on their pre-season tour to the United States, the club announced yesterday (Thursday).

The 33-year-old defender, who has one year left on his current contract, was expected to fly to the USA with his teammates but the club have now been forced to leave the Frenchman behind.

Reports suggest that Koscielny wants to return to France to finish his career, and has asked the Gunners to release him from his deal.

Arsenal said in a statement: “Laurent Koscielny has refused to travel to the US for our pre-season tour. We are very disappointed by Laurent’s actions, which are against our clear instructions.

“We hope to resolve this matter and will not be providing any further comment at this time.”

The news will come as a major headache for manager Unai Emery, who was already under pressure to sign defenders. With that in mind Koscielny was set to be a key player in the coming season and add to the 255 Premier League appearances that he has already made for the north Londoners since joining from French side Lorient for £10m in July 2010.

The Gunners are close to adding to their defensive ranks, but any unveiling will be short and sweet.

A deal to bring Saint-Etienne defender William Saliba to north London is well underway, with the Gunners expected to fork out in the region of €30million (£27m) for the much-coveted 18-year-old.

Fans will have to wait before seeing him in action at the Emirates, however, as the five-year contract will see Saliba being loaned back to the French club for one final season.

Saint-Etienne president Roland Romeyer said: “He will stay at the club this season. It is an imperative condition, should we come to an agreement for his transfer. It’s also William’s wish.”

The news comes after Arsenal successfully added one youngster to their squad last week when they signed 18-year-old Brazilian striker Gabriel Martinelli from Ituano Futebol Clube for an undisclosed fee.

Arsenal did welcome back one familiar face this week at least, when former “Invincible” Edu was appointed as the club’s first technical director.

The 41-year-old, who played for Arsenal between 2001 and 2005, winning two league titles, including the “Invincibles” season of 2003-04, will oversee the work of first-team coaches, the academy and player scouting and recruitment.

“Arsenal has always had a special place in my heart and I’m thrilled to be returning to this great club in this new role,” Edu said upon his return.

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