Luiz is 'very happy' at Arsenal and 'very likely' to stay at Emirates

David Luiz is ‘very happy’ at Arsenal and ‘very likely’ to stay at the Emirates, says agent Kia Joorabchian despite no new deal on the table for defender and Benfica wanting to re-sign him

  • David Luiz joined Arsenal last summer from Chelsea on a one-year contract
  • He has been linked with an emotional return to Benfica with his deal expiring
  • Centre back struggled earlier this season but has improved under Mikel Arteta
  • His agent, Kia Joorabchian, claims the Brazilian is ‘very happy’ at the Emirates

Kia Joorabchian claims there is a very high chance that David Luiz will remain at Arsenal beyond the current campaign.

The Brazilian centre back joined Arsenal from Chelsea last summer on a one-year deal but he has already been linked with a move away, with the north London club not yet activating an option to extend his contract by a further year.

It has been mooted that Luiz could make an emotional return to Benfica with his contract at the Emirates expiring, but Joorabchian insists the 33-year-old is very happy at Arsenal and wants to stay.

Arsenal’s David Luiz is currently gearing up for the Premier League’s resumption on June 17

‘He’s very happy at Arsenal,’ Joorabchian told Sky Sports News. ‘He has an extremely good relationship with both the coach and the sporting director. He has good relationships all throughout the club, right up to the owner. He respects everybody.

‘Arsenal had an option, which expired. We also had a pandemic [coronavirus]. So the option expired in the middle of the pandemic. We are all very aware of that situation and we are all trying, very slowly, to get back to this “new normal”.

‘These contract situations, these renewals, if he stays or if he goes… will all sort themselves out when we get back to some kind of “new normal”.

‘David will sit down with Arsenal before the season begins, have his conversations and they will both decide if he will stay or not. 

‘That will come before the season starts. The chances are very high [of Luiz being at Arsenal next season]. There is no desire to leave.’

Luiz endured a shaky start to the season but he has improved since Mikel Arteta’s appointment

Luiz recently fuelled speculation of a move away from north London by claiming he has already held talks over a return to Benfica. 

‘My dream is to end my career at Benfica,’ he told Portuguese newspaper Recorder. ‘When, I don’t know, but it will happen… it will, if President Vieira allows me and if the fans want me to come back. It will be one of the most beautiful moments of my career.’ 

But Joorabchian denied that Luiz is looking to leave already after just one season at Arsenal, claiming he ‘never mentioned about wanting to go back to Benfica now’.

The Brazilian star struggled during the early days of the season under former manager Unai Emery but following Mikel Arteta’s appointment, his performances have improved.

Luiz has featured 32 times across all competitions for the Gunners, in what has been an extremely difficult campaign to date.

The Brazilian centre back has been linked with an emotional return to Portuguese club Benfica




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Andrew Balding happy with Kameko 2000 Guineas preparation

Andrew Balding “couldn’t be happier” with Kameko as he prepares his Group One winner for the Qipco 2000 Guineas.

The Newmarket Classic is due to take centre stage in the planned resumption of racing next week following the coronavirus shutdown – and Balding hopes his Vertem Futurity Trophy hero can be one of those posing a danger to red-hot favourite Pinatubo.

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Chris Woakes happy for Alex Hales to make England return

Pace bowler Chris Woakes says he would be happy to see Alex Hales return to the England side.

Batsman Hales has not played for England since being removed from the World Cup squad in May 2019 for an “off-field incident”, reportedly failing a drugs test.

“We all try to pull in the right direction,” said Woakes.

“If Alex is willing to do that then I imagine everyone would be happy to see him back playing for England.”

Cricket is set to return from the coronavirus shutdown in July, and England will next week name an enlarged group of about 30 players who will resume training with a view to playing Test and limited-overs matches.

  • When will cricket return – and what will it look like?
  • England bowlers resume training this week

With a revamped schedule likely to be congested, necessitating separation between the Test and limited-overs squads, England could call on 31-year-old Hales, who averages almost 38 in 70 one-day internationals.

When Hales was dropped, captain Eoin Morgan said it was because of a “complete breakdown in trust” and that the rest of the squad supported the decision.

In February, Morgan said it would take a “considerable amount of time” to regain that trust.

Woakes, 31, said: “He’s gone through a tough time, being left out of the World Cup. Going on to see that team lift the trophy must have been difficult for him.

“If people have gone away for a time and worked on their weaknesses, they should be allowed a second chance.”

Hales’ highest score of 171 was once the England record, and he was the second highest run-scorer in last winter’s edition of the Big Bash League, Australia’s domestic Twenty20 competition.

“Alex is as a world-class player,” said Woakes. “I don’t 100% know what will happen, but I’d be happy to see Alex back in England colours.”

Woakes, 31, was among the England bowlers who returned to training on Thursday, at his home ground of Edgbaston.

As part of the protocols put in place by the England and Wales Cricket Board, Woakes was required to take his own temperature, enter information into an app, arrive at the ground in his training kit and wash his hands before the session began.

He has also been given his own set of six cricket balls that no-one else will touch.

“It’s my job, so it was nice to have some form of normality by going back to training,” he said.

“It’s been two months since I last bowled, and I was a little sore this morning. The first waddle to the toilet was a bit interesting, but the body is not too bad.”

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Happy birthday, Dad. Here’s a gift from when the Jets didn’t totally suck

Today’s my dad’s birthday, and much like most Jets fans, sometimes he can be a bit stuck in the past.

A few years ago as a gift, he asked for a tape from a 1970s Jets-Colts game. He claimed it was a game where Joe Namath and Johnny Unitas threw for a combined 2,000 yards and 120 touchdowns in a Jets victory. OK, maybe that’s a bit hyperbolic. 

But knowing my father — who once went on a day-long journey to buy a nonexistent cell phone he swore was called the “Alligator,” “Crocodile,” or some sort of reptile — I figured this game probably didn’t even exist. And even if it did, it would probably be nothing more than an exaggeration — a peek at the past through rose- (and green-) colored lenses.

As a Jets fan, he hasn’t had much to look forward to over the past 40 years or so (and probably not for the next 40, if we’re being honest). Well, aside from Rex Ryan and Mark Sanchez leading the team to two miraculous AFC Championship Game berths in 2009 and 2010, just before the same old Jets jetted away into extreme Jetsness once again.

So, seeing his face light up when talking about the legendary “Broadway” Joe throwing for like, 1,000 yards and 80 touchdowns in an epic duel vs. “The Golden Arm” made searching for the game too good to pass up. And, after all, I am kind of a decent son at times.

I did a bit of digging about the matchup, and guess what? The game actually happened, and it actually was a pretty damn good one at that. How about that — it wasn’t just some old guy mis-remembering it over a Budweiser while reliving Namath’s glory days in his head during birthday dinner in a New York bar.

Sure, Namath’s career numbers don’t really hold up to today’s pass-happy NFL. He has more interceptions in his career (220) than he does touchdowns (173). He ranks 60th on the NFL’s career passing leaders list. But for one game in 1972, he had everything working, and the game itself was unlike anything you’d see in the ’70s.

Furthermore, NFL defenses in the ’70s allowed only 156.4 yards per game through the air on average. In 1972 specifically, defenses only gave up 152.1 passing yards per game.

But in this game, the Jets and the Colts battled to the tune of a 44-34 Jets victory in a gunslinger’s high-noon showdown. A fourth-quarter, Namath-to-Rich Caster touchdown opened up the lead for good and gave New York the W. Namath threw for 496 yards and six touchdowns while Colts quarterback Johnny Unitas threw for 376 and two scores.

What?

As a matter of fact, Namath’s performance was one of only five 400-plus yard passing games in the 1970s, and the only one with more than 450 yards in the decade. It’s one of eight games in NFL history that saw a quarterback throw for 450-plus yards and six scores in a game.

Today’s NFL is significantly different, in both offense and defense. Consider this: Of the 66 times quarterbacks have thrown for 450 yards or more in a game, 42 times have come since the 2000 season. Thirteen of the NFL’s 20 500-yard passing games have come since 2000. The NFL might as well outlaw defenses now, with the way things are shifting.

Some context for comparison:

Namath went 15 for 28, completing touchdown passes of 65, 67, 28, 10, 79 and 80 yards. He’s the only player in NFL history to complete just 15 passes for 450 yards or more, and one of only two quarterbacks to complete 15 passes for 400 yards or more. The other is Sonny Jurgensen, who did it a decade earlier for the Philadelphia Eagles, before the AFL and NFL officially merged.

Namath was injury-riddled between 1970-73, playing in just 28 of a possible 58 games. In 1972, Namath led the AFC with 2,816 yards. In 2016, Jets legend Ryan Fitzpatrick threw for 2,710 in 14 games (11 starts). Namath threw 19 touchdowns that year, also leading the AFC. In 2016, 21 quarterbacks threw for 19 or more.

As for Johnny Unitas, his game vs. New York would be his last hurrah as Baltimore’s quarterback. It was the last time in his career he would throw for more than 300 yards, and it was the first time he had passed for at least 300 yards since a 1969 game vs. the 49ers. In 208 games, Unitas threw for 300 or more yards 26 times. With Baltimore faltering in 1972, the 39-year-old Unitas would be benched midway through the season and played in just six more games through the end of the season, thus ending his historic career with a fizzle.

Unitas was “bested” by Namath in terms of yardage in their only matchup prior to 1972. In 1970, Namath threw the ball 62 times for 397 yards and a touchdown vs. the Colts. Oh, and he threw six picks in that game, too. Unitas and the Colts came away with a 29-22 victory over the Jets, a game where Johnny U threw for 207 yards, a touchdown and an interception.

The two also met in Super Bowl III in 1969, and, well, we know how that one turned out.

It’s pretty bonkers to see a game like this, a complete aberration, take place in the ’70s. Sometimes the best games are the ones you aren’t even sure actually exist. You probably won’t find it on many “best of” DVDs. 

So, happy birthday, Dad. Now that you and the rest of those miserable Jets fans out there survived the Josh McCown era, let’s see how the Adam Gase era goes.

And with that, the case of Joe Namath vs. Johnny Unitas and their 10,000 yard, 250 touchdown game has been closed.

Next up, the “Alligator.” 

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