Mikel Arteta says keeping prized assets such as Bukayo Saka is vital for Arsenal in their quest for trophies.

Saka is reported to have agreed to a new bumper contract to keep him with the Premier League leaders until 2028.

The England winger's current deal runs until June 2024, so the Gunners have been eager to ensure he remains at the club for the long term.

Saka has scored nine goals and provided eight assists for Arsenal in the Premier League as they strive to win the title for the first time since 2014.

Gabriel Martinelli recently signed a new deal, while Arsenal are also reportedly working on fresh terms for William Saliba and Aaron Ramsdale.

Manager Arteta stressed that it is imperative for Arsenal to show their ambition by retaining key players.

He said ahead of Saturday's trip to Leicester City: "That's what we have to do, that's our responsibility. To keep our best players, our best people.

"Those that have the same aims and same purposes as the club."

Saka, also excellent for England at the World Cup last year, has come in for some rough treatment but Arteta believes he will learn to cope with tackles flying in.

Asked if he felt Saka was in danger of picking up a serious injury, the Spaniard replied: "Hopefully not. We have train that. When to take certain balls, when to run, when to jump."

He added: "I'm sure refs want to protect players in every game. There is a lot of focus on Bukayo, but we need to focus on what we can do as a team. Of course, also the referees have a job to do.

"We cannot control what the opponents are going to do, or the referee in a split second. We need to help him become a better player."

Premier League strugglers Southampton have confirmed Ruben Selles has been appointed as their manager until the end of the campaign.

Southampton sit bottom of the table heading into a huge clash with 19th-placed Leeds United, who they trail by only a point, at Elland Road on Saturday.

Selles was named as Saints' interim manager after Nathan Jones was sacked this month, and oversaw a shock 1-0 win at Chelsea last weekend.

James Ward-Prowse's free-kick on the stroke of half-time ensured Southampton claimed just their second top-flight win since October 19.

Southampton's hierarchy have decided to stand by Selles for the time being, with 15 games remaining to save their Premier League status.

The 39-year-old previously took charge of Southampton earlier in the season after the dismissal of Ralph Hasenhuttl.

Ollie Watkins could make history for Aston Villa when the in-form striker faces Everton this weekend and James Ward-Prowse has a David Beckham record in his sights.

Watkins has been on fire since the World Cup and the relegation-threatened Toffees will have to be on their guard when he leads the line at Goodison Park on Saturday.

Ward-Prowse gave Southampton a precious victory at Chelsea last weekend and will attempt to inspire another win in a huge battle between the bottom two away to Leeds United. 

As struggling Saints and Leeds go in search of precious points, you might need to shake your fantasy team up in order to start climbing the table.

Using Opta data, Stats Perform suggest four men who can ensure you have a profitable weekend.

Kenny Tete (Wolves v Fulham)

Fulham full-back Tete would probably not have been on a list of potential fantasy picks at the start of the season, but he really ought to be now.

The Cottagers have kept five clean sheets since the World Cup and Tete has played the entire match in all but one of those games.

Andy Robertson (five) is the only defender to have provided more assists in the top flight than Tete's four this season and Wolves will have to keep an eye on him marauding forward down the right wing on Friday.

Oleksandr Zinchenko (Leicester City v Arsenal)

Left-back Zinchenko scored his first Premier League goal to draw Arsenal level for a second time before they won 4-2 at Villa last Saturday.

The Ukraine international has become a popular figure since joining the Gunners from Manchester City, making an impact at both ends of the field.

Zinchenko has created an average of 0.71 chances per 90 minutes in leaders' Arsenal's quest to win the title and could be influential when they travel to take on Leicester City.

James Ward-Prowse (Leeds United v Southampton)

If Southampton are to avoid relegation to the Championship, captain Ward-Prowse must continue to step up.

He gave another demonstration of his free-kick prowess by earning managerless Saints a brilliant win at toothless Chelsea last Saturday.

That moved him one short of Beckham's Premier League record tally of scoring 18 direct free-kicks and it would be no great surprise if he goes level with the former England captain in a crunch clash at Elland Road.

Only Marcus Rashford (10) and Erling Haaland (eight) have scored more goals since the World Cup than the Saints skipper's five, so you might want to get him in your midfield.

Ollie Watkins (Everton v Aston Villa)

Another man who has been outstanding in 2023 is Watkins, who is loving life under Unai Emery at Villa.

The striker could become the first Villa player to find the back of the net in five consecutive Premier League games when they do battle with lowly Everton.

He has scored five of his seven top-flight goals this season since the World Cup and can keep his streak going at Goodison Park.

The rapid rise of Napoli centre-back Kim Min-jae has not gone unnoticed, with Manchester United reportedly investigating a potential transfer for the end of the season.

Kim, 26, played in Korea and China until he was 24 years old, eventually catching the eye of Fenerbahce, who purchased him for a €3million fee.

After one season in Turkey, Napoli scooped him up for €18m, and he has played a big part in their best season in the 21st century. He has played in 22 of runaway leaders Napoli's 23 Serie A matches this campaign, starting all of them.

The powerfully-built defender has emerged as one of the league's top talents, and unfortunately for Napoli, he has a surprisingly affordable release clause in his contract.



According to Calciomercato, United have been targeting Kim for months, and have been in contact with his agents to gauge his interest in a potential Premier League move.

Kim reportedly has a £44m (€50m) release clause in his contract, but Napoli officials are desperate to award him a new contract to at least raise that figure to their valuation of £61m (€70m).

United are expected to make him a primary target at the end of the season.



– Football London is reporting Arsenal have made 24-year-old West Ham midfielder Declan Rice their top target after acknowledging they will not be in the running for Borussia Dortmund's Jude Bellingham.

– According to the Evening Standard, Arsenal will have to battle Juventus, Borussia Dortmund and Newcastle United to secure 18-year-old Real Valladolid full-back Ivan Fresneda in the next transfer window, with his £26.5m (€30m) release clause drawing plenty of interest.

Chelsea will allow midfielder Mason Mount to leave before the beginning of next season if he does not agree to a new contract, per The Athletic.

– Sport Witness is reporting Everton had a £22m (€25m) offer for 25-year-old Udinese forward Beto rejected late in the January window, and it is believed they could return with an improved bid. 

– According to Football Insider, Tottenham are viewed as the favourites to land 26-year-old Leicester City midfielder James Maddison, who will be allowed to leave the club if he does not sign an extension.

Brendan Rodgers saluted "game changers" Gabriel Jesus and Oleksandr Zinchenko ahead of Leicester City's Premier League clash with leaders Arsenal.

The Gunners are two points clear at the summit with a game in hand on second-place Manchester City heading into their final 15 matches of the campaign.

Their quest for a first domestic title in 19 years has been boosted by the performances of former Man City duo Jesus and Zinchenko, who arrived at the Emirates Stadium in pre-season.

Jesus scored twice and provided two assists in Arsenal's 4-2 win over Leicester in August, though the Brazil international will miss the return fixture at the King Power Stadium on Saturday as he continues his recovery from a knee injury.

Meanwhile, the versatile Zinchenko has played 20 times under Mikel Arteta this term, and Rodgers praised the impact of both players.

"I think [Arsenal have] had a fantastic season up until now," the Foxes head coach said. "I think that you sensed right at the very beginning of the season when we played [them], they'd signed the two players that were a game changer for them in terms of mentality.

"When you've got the likes of Kieran Tierney on the bench – who's an outstanding player – because of Zinchenko playing, then it really shows you the quality of the squad that they have.

"But I think Zinchenko and Jesus coming in really will have helped, and given [them] that mindset. [William] Saliba coming in at the back and obviously the other players then improve, and so I think that they played very well on that day.

"Whenever we got close to them, we made mistakes, which gave them a cushion in the game. But you could see in that early part of the season that there was a good feeling around the place and that's continued through the season.

"I think Mikel [Arteta] has done a fantastic job with them, and, okay, still a long way to go – 15 games to go – but they've had a very, very good season so far."

Premier League chief executive Richard Masters warned that a new independent regulator for English football cannot be used as a "sledgehammer" to the game.

Plans have been confirmed by the United Kingdom government for an overhaul of the sport's regulatory oversight following the publication of a white paper on Thursday.

The government said the new independent regulator will "help prevent repeat financial failings", strengthen the owners' and directors' test "to protect clubs and their fans from unscrupulous owners", give fans greater say in running clubs, and "block English clubs from joining unpopular breakaway leagues".

Reception has been distinctly lukewarm from the Premier League however, urging caution in a statement on Wednesday that highlighted the need for the top flight to remain attractive to investors.

Now Masters has further outlined concerns over the potential knock-on effects of the regulator, which was recommended after the launch of a fan-led review in 2021.

"Regulation brings with it many challenges," he told BBC Sport. "This needs to be a very precise regulatory tool and not a sledgehammer.

"Otherwise, it might take football sidewards, or even backwards, rather than forwards.

"We need to be able to ensure the things which have made English football so successful over the last 150 years, and during the Premier League period, are not damaged, and the sport is fundamentally supported.

"We don't want that to be choked off, [or] chilled, to the point where actually it's starting to affect the quality of our competition."

The introduction of a regulator would theoretically help safeguard clubs from going out of business while taking onboard additional input from supporters.

It also comes following the involvement of six Premier League clubs in the attempted European Super League breakaway.

Masters conceded there was a need to rebuild trust between the game's power brokers and fans following a turbulent period.

"We accept some of the things which have happened in the recent past should not have happened, whether that be insolvencies in the Football League or the European Super League as a concept," he added.


Sean Dyche has confirmed that Jordan Pickford is close to committing to Everton by signing a new deal.

Dyche has won two of his first three games since taking over from Frank Lampard as manager at Goodison Park, defeating Premier League leaders Arsenal and relegation rivals Leeds United, both 1-0 at home either side of a 2-0 loss to Merseyside rivals Liverpool at Anfield.

Reports Pickford is close to agreeing a new deal with Everton seemed to be confirmed by Dyche at a press conference on Thursday.

The former Burnley boss was asked about the contract, along with suggestions it does not contain a relegation release clause despite the team's precarious position in the Premier League table, just one point outside the relegation zone.

"I'm not really bothered about release clauses, that's nothing to do with me," he said. 

"It's more to do with the fact he's a very, very good player, we know that. A good servant to this club so far as well and going to continue to be that I'm sure.

"I think it's a sign he's enjoying our new regime – if you like – I think he's accepted what we're looking to offer and I know he's been a fantastic player, so I want him to continue doing that.

"Any way we can rub off on him and help him to continue his development will be great if he feels there is more, and I think there is."

Pickford has had a good season for his club despite their overall struggles, conceding 28 goals from an expected goals from on-target shots (xGOT) rate of 29.8, meaning he has prevented almost two goals that he would normally have been expected to concede (excluding penalties).

Dyche has previously worked with Pickford's rival for the England number one spot Nick Pope at Burnley, and he hopes Pickford's experience can help his Everton team-mates.

"And [I worked with] Tom Heaton, who played for England," Dyche added. "A good list of goalkeepers there – different characters, different types of 'keeper.

"I'm learning about Jordan, he's been very open about himself, how he sees himself here, signed a new deal, quite obviously – or looking to.

"It's just about working with those players, continuing their development. It's a strange word to use with older players as he's done a lot in his career, but there's different ways you can rub off on people.

"I look to do it myself, I've asked every player regardless of age – Seamus [Coleman], I've been speaking to him. You can learn in different ways."

John Motson has died at the age of 77, the BBC has confirmed.

Over a 50-year career with BBC Sport, Motson provided commentary for a plethora of iconic moments, most notably in football.

Motson covered 10 European Championships and as many World Cups for BBC Sport. He retired in 2018.

He had worked on BBC Sport's flagship Match of the Day programme since 1971 and commentated on close to 2,500 televised matches. 

Tributes to Motson from across British football followed after news of his death was confirmed on Thursday.

Former Leicester City, Everton, Barcelona, Tottenham and England striker Gary Lineker, the host of Match of the Day, tweeted: "Deeply saddened to hear that John Motson has died.

"A quite brilliant commentator and the voice of football in this country for generations. He'll be very much missed. RIP Motty."

Kevin Campbell, who has worked alongside Motson, said: "Rest in Peace John "Motty" Motson an absolute legend and gentleman."

Sky Sports pundit Jamie Carragher posted: "RIP John Motson. An absolute Legend of the game. So many of us grew up listening to this man describe the action and goals on MOTD & cup finals. Sad loss."

"RIP John Motson," tweeted Gary Neville.

Everton, Fulham, Bournemouth and Brentford were among the first Premier League teams to pay tribute to Motson.

Josko Gvardiol is hot property around Europe and he boosted his stocks with the equaliser in RB Leipzig's 1-1 draw with Manchester City on Wednesday.

The 21-year-old centre-back is contracted with Leipzig until 2027, although he reportedly has an exit clause in his deal, worth €110 million.

Leipzig head coach Marco Rose was adamant after Wednesday's game that Gvardiol will remain with the club next season.


Liverpool will look to bolster their defensive options with a move for Gvardiol, claims Fabrizio Romano.

The Croatia international has been targetted by Chelsea and he only enhanced his reputation during the 2022 World Cup. He has also been linked with City and Real Madrid.

Gvardiol has previously indicated he would be love to join the Reds, potentially offering Jurgen Klopp's side an edge in the race to sign him. 



Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester United are all keeping tabs on Kylian Mbappe's situation at Paris Saint-Germain, claims Football Insider. Speculation continues to swirl that Mbappe, who is contracted through the end of the 2024-25 season, is unhappy at PSG.

Chelsea are interested in a move for Dinamo Moscow 19-year-old midfielder Arsen Zakharyan, according to CaughtOffside.

– Fichajes say Juventus are considering a move to sign Real Betis forward Borja Iglesias amid worries Dusan Vlahovic could depart at the end of the season.

Napoli will challenge PSG in the race to sign Eintracht Frankfurt forward Randal Kolo Muani, reports CalcioMercato.

Manchester United are plotting a double swoop for Leicester City midfield duo James Maddison and Youri Tielemans, according to Football Transfers.

Raphael Guerreiro is set to exit Borussia Dortmund at the end of this season as a free agent, reports Nicolo Schira.

The Premier League stressed it to be "vital" that England's top flight remains an attractive investment destination after the United Kingdom government announced plans to establish a new independent regulator.

On Thursday, a white paper is due to be published that outlines the government's plans to introduce a new regulator to give clubs and fans "greater protections under a radical transformation of the rules governing how football is run in England".

It comes after the government pledged a fan-led review into football governance following the demise of clubs such as Bury and Macclesfield Town, who went out of business due to financial mismanagement.

The fan-led review was launched in 2021, the same year as the failed attempt to establish a new breakaway European Super League by a group of Premier League and European clubs.

The government says the new independent regulator will "help prevent repeat financial failings", strengthen the owners' and directors' test "to protect clubs and their fans from unscrupulous owners", give fans greater say in running clubs, and "block English clubs from joining unpopular breakaway leagues".

The Premier League's response on Wednesday was lukewarm, as it acknowledged the government's motive was to protect but voiced concerns about the English top flight's popularity or financial might being impacted by any drastic changes implemented by the regulator.

A Premier League statement read: "The publication of this white paper is a significant moment for English football. The Premier League and its clubs will now carefully consider the government's plan for England to become the first major nation to make football a government-regulated industry.   

"The Premier League, alongside the rest of English football, is a global success. We fully recognise that the passionate support of millions of football supporters is fundamental to our competition.

"We are proud that our success has been consistently shared for the benefit of the wider game, and of our clubs, who have a positive impact every day in their local communities.

"The Premier League recognises the case for change in football governance and continues to implement stronger and more independent regulation.

"We are strengthening our ownership rules and are already providing £1.6billion in financial support to the wider game in this current three-year cycle. We appreciate the government's commitment to protect the Premier League's continued success.

"It is vital that regulation does not damage the game fans love to watch in the deepest professional pyramid in the world, or its ability to attract investment and grow interest in our game.  

"We will now work constructively with stakeholders to ensure that the proposed government regulator does not lead to any unintended consequences that could affect the Premier League's position as the most-watched football league in the world, reduce its competitiveness or put the unrivalled levels of funding we provide at risk.

"The Premier League has already taken action to address many issues raised in the fan-led review and will work with government and parliamentarians on the next phase of the white paper.

"We are committed to delivering a football-led solution to address key issues in the game – including financial distributions, financial controls and the football calendar – together with The FA and the EFL [English Football League]."  

Marco Rose suggested Josko Gvardiol will still be playing for RB Leipzig next season as the coach attempts to stave off Premier League interest in the centre-back.

Reported Chelsea target Gvardiol salvaged a 1-1 draw for Leipzig in Wednesday's Champions League last-16 clash with Manchester City at Red Bull Arena.

The Croatia defender also previously named Liverpool as his "dream" destination after impressing at the World Cup alongside former Red Dejan Lovren.

But Rose insisted the 21-year-old will remain with Leipzig, despite a credible performance in a potential Premier League audition against Pep Guardiola's side.

"Josko Gvardiol will be an RB Leipzig player next season as well," he told TV 2 Sport after Leipzig's first-leg clash with City.

"I am the coach and I am asking for that. He is happy here. He said he wants to play in the Premier League, but he didn't say when."

Rose joked Gvardiol "should play basketball" after his towering headed equaliser in the 70th minute, though he was left unimpressed with Leipzig's first-half showing.

"We should start to play and fight. It was a really difficult first half, 26 per cent possession isn't enough," Rose told BT Sport.

"We were too passive in every situation. They moved the ball and they moved us. We had no power."

However, another impressive outing for Gvardiol against one of Europe's elite secured a share of the spoils and left it all to play for in the March 14 return leg at Etihad Stadium.

"The second half was totally different. Better late than never."

Xavi believes Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad bin Al Thani would be "a good fit" as Manchester United owner.

Al Thani fronted one of two public bids for United ahead of last week's 'soft' deadline.

Relatively little is known of the Qatari banker, who hopes to purchase 100 per cent of the club after the Glazer family put their stake up for sale.

But Xavi, the Barcelona coach facing United this week, spent two and a half years coaching Al Sadd in Qatar.

The 43-year-old was also previously a player at Al Sadd and is familiar with Al Thani, he said on Wednesday.

"He is a responsible, serious person, a good fit for United," Xavi said. "I worked in Qatar for six years and I know the sheikh."

Jim Ratcliffe's INEOS has launched a rival bid to that led by Al Thani, planning an offer only for the Glazers' stake.

Reims president Jean-Pierre Caillot believes it will be "impossible" to secure Arsenal loanee Folarin Balogun on a permanent deal following his breakout season.

Balogun, 21, has enjoyed a stunning campaign in Ligue 1, with his 15 goals in 23 appearances tying him with Paris Saint-Germain's Kylian Mbappe and Lille's Jonathan David for the league's most.

It represents a big emergence for the young striker after only managing three goals in 18 appearances on loan with Championship side Middlesbrough this past season, but Caillot explained to France Bleu how the club had been monitoring Balogun for years.

"We almost signed him for the club a few years ago when he was unsure whether he would have his first professional contract at Arsenal," he said. "We clung to it, we continued to be in contact with him [and] today he is here. 

"Everyone discovers Folarin Balogun, who was an illustrious unknown for the supporters a year ago, just like Hugo Ekitike, just like Boulaye Dia. It's all the strength of the recruitment cell to always have a new player to take on."

When asked about the chances of keeping Balogun in Reims, Caillot was realistic, although hopeful of maybe one more season on loan in an environment where he is clearly thriving.

"I think [signing him permanently] is impossible," he said. "The rules of the game are clear. These are boys that, when they join us, know that they're here to improve and that it's a step for them. 

"So even if I'm not deciding for him, either Folarin will return to his club to have his chance, he's loaned out, or transferred to a very big club. He is a player that should go even higher. 

"Obviously we'll ask him if he feels good here, and at his club, but I think that now, he will need to take a step up. 

"We are already working on life after Balogun, the day when he will leave our club. But if he and the club are open to another year at Reims, we'll do everything to make it happen."

Reims sit 10th on the table, with a league-leading 13 draws in 23 matches.

Liverpool midfielder Stefan Bajcetic has reportedly caught the attention of LaLiga powerhouses Real Madrid and Barcelona.

Bajcetic, 18, scored his first Premier League goal in a short substitute appearance against Aston Villa on Boxing Day, and after impressing in a pair of January FA Cup starts, he forced his way into the first team.

He has started their past four Premier League fixtures as well as Tuesday's Champions League Final rematch against Madrid, indicating a rapid rise in the eyes of Jurgen Klopp.

The Spaniard left Celta Vigo in 2020 to head to the Premier League, but his home country could soon come calling to bring him back.



According to Fichajes, both Barcelona and Madrid "have been closely following his evolution", and they believe Bajcetic possesses the qualities necessary to perform at the highest level.

Barcelona reportedly view him as "an ideal piece to form a future midfield with Pedri and Gavi", while Madrid would like him to be the successor to ageing veterans Luka Modric and Toni Kroos.

His contract ties him to Anfield until 2027, but the Spanish giants could try to test his transfer value as soon as this off-season.



– The Daily Mail is reporting Aston Villa will listen to offers for 30-year-old goalkeeper and World Cup hero Emiliano Martinez after the season with the hope that a significant transfer fee could fund a mini-rebuild.

– Leicester City will look to sell James Maddison at the end of the season if they can not convince him to sign a new contract, with Manchester City, Newcastle United and Tottenham named as interested parties, per Football Insider.

– According to The Telegraph, 31-year-old midfielder N'Golo Kante will sign a new contract to remain at Chelsea.

– Gazzetta dello Sport is reporting Inter will look to move on from wing-backs Denzel Dumfries and Robin Gosens at the end of the season, with Dumfries a potential piece in a swap deal for Chelsea loanee Romelu Lukaku.

– According to the Evening Standard, Saudi Arabian clubs – including Cristiano Ronaldo's Al Nassr – are circling 30-year-old Crystal Palace winger Wilfried Zaha with the belief he would be open to a Middle East move for the right price.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp believes Carlo Ancelotti thinks their Champions League last-16 tie is over after Real Madrid trounced the Reds 5-2 at Anfield in Tuesday's first leg.

The Reds blew an early two-goal lead after Darwin Nunez and Mohamed Salah's early strikes to suffer the heavy defeat, which leaves them with a mountain to climb in the second leg in Madrid on March 15.

The defeat was the first time the Reds have conceded four or more goals at home in a European game.

Ancelotti insisted the tie is still live after the game despite the deficit, while Klopp remained hopeful, but conceded it was going to be tough to turn it around.

"I think Carlo thinks the tie is over – and I think it as well in the moment," Klopp told reporters. "But in three weeks... the closer you get to the game the bigger our chances become and the less likely it is the tie is over.

"Tonight, with the 5-2, they are pretty good in counter-attacking and we have to score three goals there and take some risk, so that could be a bit tricky.

"We go there, I can say it now already and try to win the game. If that is possible or not, I don't know now but that's what we will try and from there we will see."

Liverpool became the first team in Champions League history to lose by a three-goal margin after being 2-0 up.

Klopp acknowledged Eder Militao's free header from a Luka Modric set-piece straight after half-time for 3-2 shifted the momentum.

"I really thought the 3-2 had a massive impact," he said. "The 2-1 and the 2-2 not so much… my personal feeling was, 'first goal, OK, bad defending but well done as well, the second was slapstick but get over it'.

"Then the third goal directly after half-time, we didn't deal particularly well with that. We don't want to concede goals but I think if we just think about the first half, everybody's impression was, 'Wow, that was a really good first half' even when we conceded two.

"I really thought our people saw it exactly like that, they were outstanding tonight in a difficult game. The first half it was not too difficult to be positive but in the second half when it was difficult to stay positive, they were positive and I am thankful for that."

Defender Joe Gomez was replaced in the 73rd minute with an apparent injury concern, although Klopp had no clear update on his status.

"He showed a little bit of a sign but then we just made a decision," Klopp said. "Now we will see and he will get checked tomorrow."

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