Paris Saint-Germain have reportedly agreed to let Neymar return to Barcelona, while Borussia Dortmund have set their asking price for Jadon Sancho.

Neymar, 28, has regularly been linked with a return to Camp Nou, and that could be getting a step closer.

But can the LaLiga giants make it happen?

 

TOP STORY – PSG AGREE TO LET NEYMAR RETURN TO BARCELONA

Neymar has reached an agreement with PSG to return to Barcelona ahead of next season, according to AS.

However, the report says Barcelona must still find the means to make it happen.

Neymar starred across four seasons at the LaLiga club before joining PSG in a world-record €222million move in 2017.

ROUND-UP

- If Manchester United want Sancho, it seems they know what they need to pay. Ruhr Nachrichten reports Dortmund want £108.3m (€120m) for the star attacker and the deal must be completed before August 10.

- Amid links to Barcelona, Xavi signed a new contract with Al-Sadd until 2021. However, Mundo Deportivo says the club's former midfielder has a release clause in his new contract to be able to sign to take over at Camp Nou before his deal ends. Staying at Barcelona and the club have agreed to lower Ivan Rakitic's price, according to Sport, with the midfielder linked with a Sevilla return.

- Nemanja Matic has found form at Manchester United. According to Gianluca Di Marzio, the 31-year-old midfielder – whose contract was expiring next year – has signed a new deal with the Premier League club until 2023.

- While Hector Bellerin has a deal at Arsenal until 2023, his future is somewhat uncertain. The Daily Express reports Paris Saint-Germain are keeping tabs on the Spaniard.

- As they near promotion to the Premier League, Leeds United could be ready to strengthen. The Sun reports Leeds are prepared to sign Celtic striker Odsonne Edouard – who has been linked to Manchester United and Arsenal – if they return to the top flight.

- Valencia are searching for a new head coach after the sacking of Albert Celades. L'Equipe reports former PSG boss Laurent Blanc is on the LaLiga club's list of possible successors.

Bayer Leverkusen star Kai Havertz has been tipped to leave the Bundesliga outfit at the end of the season.

Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester United, Bayern Munich and Real Madrid are among the possible destinations.

Havertz's future could become a lot clearer following Leverkusen's 4-2 defeat to Bayern in the DFB-Pokal decider.

 

TOP STORY – CHELSEA BOOSTED BY HAVERTZ NEWS

Kai Havertz wants to meet with Bayer Leverkusen to discuss his future after the DFB-Pokal final loss to Bayern Munich, according to Bild journalist Christian Falk.

Havertz scored a consolation goal as Leverkusen went down 4-2 to Bayern in Berlin on Saturday.

Chelsea are interested in Havertz, Real Madrid are hesitant about signing the Germany international in 2020, while Bayern are not prepared to make a bid this year.

Liverpool, Barcelona and Manchester United have also been linked.

 

ROUND-UP

- Falk also claims Bayern star Thiago Alcantara could join Liverpool or United. Bayern are braced for Thiago to leave at the end of the season and the Spanish midfielder has been tipped to move to Premier League champions Liverpool. However, United are also reportedly interested.

United, Arsenal, Napoli and Atletico Madrid are among the teams eyeing a cut-price deal for Madrid outcast James Rodriguez, says Marca. Everton and Wolves have also been mentioned as suitors.

- According to the Daily Mail, Arsenal are desperate to sign Atletico midfielder Thomas Partey, so much so they are prepared to sell either Matteo GuendouziAlexandre Lacazette or Lucas Torreira to fund the transfer.

- Gazzetta journalist Nicolo Schirra reports Sporting CP are in advanced negotiations to extend Joelson Fernandes' contract. The Portuguese side are looking to increase the 17-year-old's release clause from €45million to €100m amid interest from Barca, Arsenal, Borussia Dortmund and RB Leipzig.

Paris Saint-Germain are eyeing Monaco full-back Djibril Sidibe, Foot Mercato claims. The Ligue 1 champions are looking to sign a right-back after Thomas Meunier left for Dortmund.

- Madrid forward Luka Jovic remains Milan's first choice to replace Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Calciomercato says. Milan are ready to meet Jovic's agent as they look to pair the Serbia international with former Eintracht Frankfurt team-mate Ante Rebic at San Siro. Patrik Schick – who spent the season on loan at Leipzig from Roma – is another option should Milan fail to land Jovic.

Inter prefer David Alaba over Chelsea full-back Emerson Palmieri and have already met the Bayern star twice, according to SportMediaset. Alaba has also been linked to Chelsea, PSG, Madrid and Manchester City.

Jadon Sancho still wants a move to Manchester United, while Inter could be ready to buy Alexis Sanchez.

Sancho, 20, has been linked with numerous European giants after starring for Borussia Dortmund.

While he could be set for Old Trafford, United may opt to get rid of Sanchez permanently.

 

TOP STORY – SANCHO STILL WANTS MAN UTD MOVE

Sancho wants a move to Manchester United but the Premier League giants must still find an agreement with Dortmund, according to Fabrizio Romano.

The England international has been linked to the likes of United, Liverpool and Chelsea.

Sancho is contracted at Dortmund, where he arrived in 2017, until 2022.

 

ROUND-UP

- On loan at Inter this season, Sanchez could stay at San Siro even longer. Goal reports the Serie A giants are looking to sign the Chile international permanently from Manchester United, for a cut-price deal of €20million (£18m).

- Eric Garcia could be getting closer to a Barcelona return. Sport reports the LaLiga giants have started talks with Manchester City regarding the defender, who left Barca for the Premier League side in 2017.

- Amid uncertainty over his future, it seems Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is looking for a new deal at Arsenal, where his contract expires in 2021. ESPN reports the forward wants a minimum three-year contract worth £250,000 per week.

- Tottenham reportedly had a chance to move Tanguy Ndombele on. The Telegraph reports Spurs rejected an offer to send Ndombele to Juventus, with Aaron Ramsey heading in the opposite direction. Meanwhile, Goal says Tottenham are trying to sign Napoli forward Arkadiusz Milik, but are facing competition from Juve.

- Daniele De Rossi only retired earlier this year, but the former Italy international is seemingly already attracting interest to be a coach. According to Gianluca Di Marzio, Fiorentina are ready to offer the former midfielder the chance to take the helm.

Lionel Messi's future is often a topic of discussion.

Messi has an early break clause in his Barcelona contract.

As Barca look to re-sign Messi, the 33-year-old superstar is reportedly ready to walk away next year.

 

TOP STORY – MESSI WANTS BARCA EXIT

Lionel Messi will leave Barcelona when his contract expires at the end of 2020-21, according to Cadena SER.

Barca captain Messi – previously linked to Inter and Manchester City – has reportedly been in talks over a new two-year deal at Camp Nou.

However, the six-time Ballon d'Or winner and Barca's all-time leading scorer is reportedly tired of being blamed for issues at the club, with the LaLiga champions set to be dethroned by Real Madrid.

ROUND-UP

- Staying at Camp Nou and club legend Xavi has agreed to become Barcelona head coach next season. Mundo Deportivo journalist Francesc Aguilar says the Al-Sadd boss has agreed a €6million salary to replace under-fire coach Quique Setien.

- Mundo Deportivo reports Manchester United and neighbours City have asked Barca about the availability of out-of-favour forward Antoine Griezmann. A big-money signing from Atletico Madrid at the start of the season, Griezmann has struggled and found himself on the bench in recent weeks. However, the report claims Barca are not considering a transfer.

Liverpool are poised to sign Bayern Munich midfielder Thiago Alcantara, says Sport. Thiago is out of contract at the end of 2020-21 and the Spaniard is not willing to re-sign. Now, Liverpool are believed to be in advanced negotiations as Bayern seek £31m (€35m) for Thiago.

- Everton full-back Lucas Digne has emerged as a target for City and Chelsea if they fail to land Leicester City star Ben Chilwell, according to ESPN.

Borussia Dortmund have completed the signing of Birmingham City teenager Jude Bellingham, reports Bild. United were also chasing the 17-year-old sensation.

- After signing Achraf Hakimi from Real Madrid, Sky journalist Fabrizio Romano claims Inter have opened talks with Chelsea for Italian full-back Emerson Palmieri.

Juventus are hoping to settle Paulo Dybala's new contract between July and August, says Calciomercato.

- The Telegraph reports Chelsea are ready to step up their pursuit of Bayer Leverkusen star Kai Havertz after Saturday's DFB-Pokal final against Bayern. Havertz has been linked to Bayern, Madrid, United, Liverpool and Barca.

- Chelsea goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga could be shipped out on loan to Sevilla, claims The Sun. The world's most expensive keeper has been criticised for his performances this season.

Liverpool forward Sadio Mane was more deserving of the Best FIFA Men's Player award in 2019 than Barcelona star Lionel Messi, according to France great Alain Giresse.

After guiding Barca to LaLiga glory and the semi-finals of the Champions League last season, Messi won the accolade for a sixth time back in September – he was named FIFA World Player of the Year in 2009 and claimed four Ballons d'Or while it was backed by world football's governing body.

Mane finished fifth in the voting, behind Liverpool team-mates Virgil van Dijk and Mohamed Salah, and Juventus forward Cristiano Ronaldo.

But Giresse, who coached Mane during his time in charge of Senegal between 2013 and 2015, insists the 28-year-old should have finished top after starring for Liverpool on their way to Champions League success.

"I definitely would have put Sadio Mane ahead of Messi, in terms of the season they had last season," he told ESPN.

"When I was head coach of Senegal, Sadio was still young but he had ahead of him an enormous potential, a technical potential, and a moral potential to go on to become a great player, as he has become today."

Giresse, named French Player of the Year three times in the 1980s, was Tunisia head coach until August and should have been eligible to vote.

"I didn't receive the ballot sheet, so it wasn't me who voted [on Tunisia's behalf]. I can't say who did, but it wasn't me," he said. The top pick credited to Giresse was Ronaldo, with Van Dijk second and Messi third.

Former Bordeaux and Marseille midfielder Giresse also managed Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang at international level with Gabon. 

Aubameyang shared the Premier League Golden Boot with Mane and Salah last season and Giresse believes the Arsenal striker is now among the world's best.

"I launched Pierre-Emerick with the Gabon national team, at the start of his development, his expansion and his progression," he said.

"We can all see his pathway and the level he's reached now. We're talking about [him moving to] Real Madrid, so it shows how this player has reached a world-class level, and you could say the same about Sadio."

Barcelona forward Antoine Griezmann has no interest in leaving the LaLiga giants.

Speculation over the France international's future has increased amid his, and Barca's, struggles.

But the 29-year-old seemingly wants more than one season at Barcelona.

 

TOP STORY – GRIEZMANN NOT INTERESTED IN BARCELONA EXIT

Griezmann has no interest in leaving Barcelona, according to Le Parisien.

Since arriving from Atletico Madrid for €120million, Griezmann has managed just 14 goals in 43 games this season.

Griezmann was introduced as a 90th-minute substitute in Barca's 2-2 draw with his former club on Tuesday.

ROUND-UP

- Staying at Camp Nou and Quique Setien's future as Barcelona head coach remains a talking point after one win in four games. AS reports Setien is not in immediate danger but is far from safe, while Sport says his future is uncertain, although the club are hoping to keep him at the helm until the end of the season.

- Manchester City look set for a rebuild in the close season. The Guardian claims Bayern Munich defender David Alaba, who is out of contract next year, is a target for the Premier League giants.

- After making a stellar start to the season with Lyon before suffering a serious knee injury, Memphis Depay has been linked with a move. Le 10 Sport reports Arsenal want the attacker, who has 14 goals in 18 games this season.

- Carlos Tevez's future remains uncertain. Ole says the former Manchester United and Manchester City forward, 36, could retire as he struggles to agree to a new contract with Boca Juniors.

- With Bruno Lage on his way out as Benfica coach, the Portuguese giants are searching for a new boss. According to A Bola, Benfica have looked at the likes of Mauricio Pochettino, Ernesto Valverde and Laurent Blanc, but are now considering former Paris Saint-Germain and Arsenal coach Unai Emery.

- Tottenham defender Serge Aurier could be set for a move. Sky Sports reports Monaco are interested in the Ivory Coast right-back.

Bukayo Saka has ended speculation around his future at Arsenal after signing a new "long-term" contract, the club confirmed.

Saka, 18, made his Premier League debut last season as a 17-year-old and has established himself as a regular first-team member in 2019-20.

Although most at home on the left wing, Saka has also deputised as a left-back for the Gunners this season and done so to great acclaim.

Despite essentially being played out of position for much of the campaign, he has still managed to weigh in with 11 assists, making him the first teenager to reach 10 in a single season since Cesc Fabregas in 2006-07.

An England youth international and product of Arsenal's academy, Saka looks destined for a bright future and the next few years are set to be with the Gunners, who had grown concerned about the prospect of losing him on a free transfer next year, when his previous deal was due to expire.

Head coach Mikel Arteta said: "Bukayo is a talented and intelligent young player. He has impressed me with his work ethic and attitude to learn and adapt, and it has paid off in his performances.

"I am excited to continue working with him to develop him further, and for him to help us achieve our goals."

And technical director Edu added: "This is something everyone involved wanted to happen and we are delighted that Bukayo has signed a new long-term contract.

"He's making great progress and is one of a number of young players who have developed through our academy. This is so important for us as we move forward as a club."

 

Arsenal issued a strong response to Saint-Etienne after the French club criticised them over negoations concerning William Saliba ahead of the Coupe de France final. 

Saliba signed for Arsenal in a reported £25million deal last year before being loaned back to Les Verts for the 2019-20 campaign. 

Although Ligue 1 was ended prematurely due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Coupe de France final is to go ahead on July 24. 

Saint-Etienne will face Paris Saint-Germain in that contest and had hoped Saliba, 19, would be available for it, while Arsenal coach Mikel Arteta also expressed a desire for the France Under-20 international to have that opportunity. 

But Saint-Etienne confirmed on Tuesday they were unable to reach an agreement with the Gunners, who they claimed tried to impose "absolutely unacceptable sporting and financial conditions" on any extension. 

Arsenal insist they were willing for Saliba to extend his stay, but they wanted him to be on a specific training schedule and to not lose out financially. 

"Throughout our discussions with Saint-Etienne, our aim has been to protect the welfare of William Saliba as well as the interests of Arsenal Football Club, while honouring the terms of the loan," a statement read. 

"Despite the loan ending on June 30, we were willing to find a way for William to play in the [French] cup final on July 24, despite having no contractual obligation to do so. 

"As William is returning from injury, we asked that Saint-Etienne follow a clear training plan with William in close collaboration with us, to ensure he is fully fit for the start of next season.

"To our surprise we were unable to reach agreement to this plan which was proposed by our medical experts, and we are simply not prepared to risk the welfare of an Arsenal player.

"While it was not our primary concern, and ultimately not relevant as our training plan was not accepted, we also expected not to be financially disadvantaged by extending the loan. This was also not acceptable to Saint-Etienne.

"We know this is a disappointment for William, but he understands we are working to protect his long-term interests and those of Arsenal."

Henrikh Mkhitaryan will remain on loan at Roma for the rest of the season, with the Serie A club also revealing he is set to stay in Italy for a further year. 

Mkhitaryan has made 19 appearances in all competitions since joining from Arsenal in September and has recently returned from injury. 

Roma will have the Armenia international available for the closing weeks of a campaign that was delayed for several months due to the coronavirus pandemic, while there is also a preliminary agreement for 2020-21 in place. 

"I'm very pleased," Mkhitaryan - who has started the previous two games - said. 

"I'm happy to extend my stay here, because I still have things that I haven’t achieved yet that I want to achieve. 

"I'm looking forward to it." 

Mkhitaryan moved to the Gunners from Manchester United in January 2018 as part of the deal that sent Alexis Sanchez in the opposite direction. 

Roma sit fifth in the Serie A table but are nine points adrift of fourth-placed Atalanta. Paulo Fonseca's squad are still in the Europa League too, with a one-off tie against Sevilla to come early next month. 

"We are happy that Henrikh has decided to stay with us, and help us continue to grow," Roma CEO Guido Fienga said. 

"The club's targets have not changed and we always want to have players at our club, like Micki, who show their desire, professionalism and determination, who represent our club and our fans in the right way." 

Add Tottenham to the list of Sergej Milinkovic-Savic admirers.

The Lazio star and Serbia international has teams queuing up for his services, with Paris Saint-Germain reportedly tipped to secure his signature.

However, Premier League outfit Spurs are now eyeing Milinkovic-Savic.

 

TOP STORY – MILINKOVIC-SAVIC WANTED BY SPURS

Jose Mourinho is interested in bringing Lazio star Sergej Milinkovic-Savic to Tottenham, according to Foot Mercato.

Milinkovic-Savic is a player in demand, having been linked with the likes of Paris Saint-Germain, Real Madrid, Manchester United, Juventus, Manchester City and Chelsea.

While a move for Milinkovic-Savic appears out of reach for Spurs, Jose Mourinho is still dreaming.

 

ROUND-UP

- While Milinkovic-Savic is a dream for Spurs, The Telegraph says Tottenham are confident of signing Southampton's Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg. Mourinho, however, must raise transfer funds through sales from his squad.

Inter are in advanced talks with Brescia to finalise a deal for star Sandro Tonali, according to journalist Nicolo Schira. Inter have agreed a five-year deal with Tonali.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic's future at Milan beyond the 2019-20 season is complicated, says Calciomercato. Ibrahimovic is out of contract at the end of the campaign and the 38-year-old striker is no closer to signing an extension. While he would like to remain at San Siro, an extension looks set to be postponed until the proposed arrival of Ralf Rangnick as head coach.

- Sport Bild reports Bayern Munich are hopeful of extending David Alaba's contract, despite failing to come to an agreement at a meeting last week. Alaba has been linked to Chelsea recently. Meanwhile, Sky Sport says Bayern are not prepared to exercise their option to sign Ivan Perisic permanently from Inter following his loan spell.

- ABC says Real Betis have been in negotiations with former West Ham, Real Madrid and Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini about their coaching vacancy.

Milan and Napoli are both interested in Fiorentina defender Nikola Milenkovic, claims Le10 Sport. The Serbian could be a replacement for Napoli centre-back Kalidou Koulibaly, who has been linked to the likes of Manchester City, Liverpool and Real Madrid.

- The Daily Mail reports Arsenal are ready to use out-of-favour midfielder Matteo Guendouzi as a bargaining chip in a potential swap deal. United, PSG, Madrid and Barca have emerged as possible destinations.

Manchester City could be ready to challenge rivals Manchester United for Aston Villa star Jack Grealish.

Grealish, 24, has been linked with a move away from Villa, with Old Trafford seemingly his most likely destination.

But City may be primed to join the race for the attacker.

 

TOP STORY – MAN CITY CONSIDER MOVE FOR MAN UTD TARGET GREALISH

Manchester City will consider a move for Grealish if they receive their asking price for Leroy Sane from Bayern Munich, according to The Telegraph.

Sane is set to leave the Premier League giants this close season amid continued links to Bayern.

And City could challenge Manchester United for Grealish – who has scored nine goals and provided eight assists in 35 games this season – if their asking price is met.

ROUND-UP

- Quique Setien is under increasing pressure at Barcelona. RAC1 reports Barca president Josep Maria Bartomeu, chief executive Oscar Grau, sporting director Javier Bordas and technical secretary Eric Abidal met at Setien's house on Monday to discuss the current situation. Trailing Real Madrid by two points in LaLiga, Esport3 says Setien could be fired as early as this week.

- Arsenal have made a decision regarding Dani Ceballos. The Sun says the Premier League club will not make a move to buy the midfielder from Real Madrid when his loan deal expires at the end of the season.

- With Serie A promotion secured, Benevento could be set to strengthen. Gianluca Di Marzio reports the club are set to sign former Chelsea forward Loic Remy, who is coming out of contract at Lille.

- Real Sociedad are leading the chase to sign Real Madrid midfielder Takefusa Kubo on loan next season, according to AS. The 19-year-old has been on loan at Mallorca this season, while Milan are also reportedly interested in the Japan international.

- With Timo Werner joining Chelsea, RB Leipzig have seemingly found a replacement from the forward. According to Sky, Hwang Hee-chan will join Leipzig from Salzburg for about €10million. Hwang has been linked to the likes of Liverpool and Wolves.

- Celtic are reportedly keen to hold onto Fraser Forster. The goalkeeper has been on loan from Southampton this season and The Sun reports Celtic want to buy the former England international.

Real Madrid or Manchester United? 

The two European giants appear to be the likeliest options for Jadon Sancho, who continues to be linked with a move away from Borussia Dortmund. 

Sancho has been tipped to make the move to Old Trafford but the England international could be set to grace the Santiago Bernabeu instead. 

 

TOP STORY – MADRID AND UNITED FIGHTING OVER SANCHO

Real Madrid and Manchester United are going head-to-head to sign Borussia Dortmund star Jadon Sancho, according to Le10 Sport.

Sancho has been tipped to leave Dortmund for United, though Madrid, Chelsea, Liverpool, Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain have all emerged as possible destinations.

Zinedine Zidane reportedly wants to bring Sancho to Madrid as Dortmund demand a huge fee.

 

ROUND-UP

- Could Sergio Aguero and Milan Skriniar be set to swap clubs? Calciomercato reports Inter are eyeing Manchester City star Aguero in a deal that would see Nerazzurri defender Skriniar move in the opposite direction. Inter could be in the market for a forward as Barca eye Lautaro Martinez, while Pep Guardiola's City are desperate to bolster their defence.

- There has been no decision on David Alaba's future, according to Bild journalist Christian Falk. The Bayern Munich star has been linked to City, Juventus, Chelsea and PSG.

Mauricio Pochettino is in talks to take over Portuguese giants Benfica, Record says. Pochettino has been out of work since he was sacked by Tottenham in November.

- Calciomercato claims Milan's hierarchy will confront Mino Raiola in the next 48 hours to try to finalise a new contract for star goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma.

Arsenal have made an offer for Levante midfielder Enis Bardhi, reports Onda Cero. Fiorentina and an unnamed Bundesliga club are also interested.

Barca and Juve are expected to announce the swap deal involving Arthur and Miralem Pjanic on Monday after undergoing medicals, according to widespread speculation. Arthur will join Juve, while Pjanic is set to replace the Brazilian at Barca.

Manchester United will take on Chelsea as Arsenal face Newcastle United or holders Manchester City in the FA Cup semi-finals.

With five Premier League teams remaining in the hat, the draw took place at half-time during City's clash with Newcastle at St James' Park – Pep Guardiola's side having taken a 1-0 lead into the interval thanks to Kevin De Bruyne's penalty.

United - who needed extra-time to see off Norwich City on Saturday, with Harry Maguire scoring late in a 2-1 win - were drawn first and will go up against Frank Lampard's side, who defeated Leicester City 1-0 on Sunday.

It is a repeat of the 2017-18 FA Cup final, which Chelsea won 1-0 under Antonio Conte.

Arsenal required a stoppage-time effort from Dani Ceballos to book their place in the last four, with the Gunners' winner against Sheffield United coming just four minutes after David McGoldrick had struck a late equaliser.

The semi-final ties will be played behind closed doors at Wembley Stadium on July 18 and 19, with the final scheduled for August 1.

Mikel Arteta believes Nicolas Pepe has "incredible potential", having already developed a greater understanding of what is required from him at Arsenal.

The club's record signing from Lille scored the opening goal in the FA Cup quarter-final victory at Sheffield United on Sunday, converting from the penalty spot in the first half.

Pepe has now scored eight times and registered the same number of assists during a promising debut campaign, though Arteta is confident there is still more to come from the talented 25-year-old.

Arsenal's head coach has been particularly pleased with how the player has grasped his responsibilities without the ball, as well as providing a threat in attack.

"I am very excited about what he can bring and what he's bringing to the team this season," Arteta told the media after the 2-1 victory at Bramall Lane sealed by a late goal from Dani Ceballos.

"I think he's made a click. I think he realises what he needs to do as well when we don't have the ball.

"I'm so pleased today. If you see his defensive actions, it's incredible what he was doing and then with the ball he gives us that creativity. He's a player that we need. It's always unpredictable what can happen when he has the ball is at his feet.

"I think [he is going] in the right direction."

Pepe joined Arsenal when Unai Emery was in charge but Arteta has been impressed by the Ivory Coast international - both on and off the field - since taking charge at Emirates Stadium late in 2019.

"I didn't know him personally but I think he's a player with incredible potential," Arteta - who won the FA Cup twice as a player with the Gunners - said.

"He needs to just be decisive in every game and take care of moments in the game when he disconnects himself a little bit, he cannot do that and I will be very persistent with him to try to change that because if he's at his best, he's a player that can make a difference for the team.

"He's such a nice boy, always smiling, always positive around everybody. He's a bit of a free spirit but that's good.

"You need all types of characters in the team and now he's showing his commitment to us."

Arsenal return to Premier League duty in midweek, hosting bottom club Norwich City on Wednesday.

Mikel Arteta must solve Arsenal's defensive issues if the club want to be regularly competing for trophies, according to Robin van Persie.

The Gunners made it through to the last four of the FA Cup on Sunday, defeating Sheffield United 2-1 at Bramall Lane thanks to a stoppage-time winner from substitute Dani Ceballos.

However, the late goal helped overshadow the shoddy defending that had allowed United to draw level in the closing minutes, Sead Kolasinac's weak clearance hitting Shkodran Mustafi to inadvertently set up David McGoldrick.

Arsenal have conceded 41 goals in 31 Premier League games and, while supporting Arteta's appointment, Van Persie feels reinforcements are required to strengthen a long-standing area of weakness.

"What I believe is it is very important for Arsenal and for Mikel to find a way to fix the set pieces," the former Arsenal and Manchester United forward said while speaking alongside Rio Ferdinand on BT Sport.

"Corners, set pieces, crosses, you're always holding your breath and thinking, 'Arsenal might concede'. You fix that with mental toughness.

"It's like when I played with you [Ferdinand] and Vida [Nemanja Vidic], you would die to save the ball. You would put your head first, you would give everything to block the ball.

"That mentality is needed to compete for trophies. To be honest, I don't really see that now and that's not new either, we talked about this before and it was even an issue in my time there.

"You need to find defenders who want to do absolutely everything to block that ball. They should try to find those types of defenders.

"I'm not saying these guys are bad, but there is another level up if you want to win trophies."

David Luiz made his return to action in the FA Cup following his red card in the Premier League defeat at Manchester City.

The Brazilian centre-back played 54 minutes before going off with an ankle injury - Arteta revealed the player will be assessed on Monday in his post-match interview - after signing a new one-year deal this week.

Van Persie, however, is not convinced, suggesting before kick-off he would be attempting to rough up the defender if he was in the opposing team.

"If you play against him, I would go at him, almost try to bully him and to make physical contact with him and move around him, try to tease him a little bit because he is vulnerable," the Dutchman said.

"The first job you have to do is to defend, be solid and be trustworthy. If you have extra, you can dribble, do some nice passes, perfect. But he needs to focus on his job."

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