North London Derby: Tottenham Hotspur v Arsenal in pictures
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Arsenal hero Paul Merson says Barcelona star Raphinha could ruin the Gunners’ season if he moves to the Emirates Stadium and ends up getting paid more money than the rest of the players. Arsenal are eight points clear at the top of the Premier League table after winning 15 of their 18 matches this season but missed out on landing Ukraine international Mykhaylo Mudryk after their move for the winger was hijacked by Chelsea.
“They’ll have to regroup again,” Merson said. “Surely they have another few players in the pipeline, surely they haven’t put all their eggs into one basket. I think they might go for Raphinha at Barcelona, they’ve got to settle their books.
“He (Mudryk) is probably getting more money at Chelsea. If Arsenal then go, ‘wait a minute, we’ll give you those wages,’ how do you think all the players will react? It’s a happy dressing room at the moment, and [if] you give another player £200k or £300k, it gets around the dressing room – players start getting unsettled.
“And you’re better [off] not rocking the boat. These chances [to win the league] don’t come around too often and you’ve got to seize the moment. You don’t want to ruin it.”
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Arsenal were interested in signing Raphinha last summer when he was still plying his trade for Leeds. But the 26-year-old opted for a move to Barcelona instead after the Catalan giants shelled out a whopping £55million to prise him away from Elland Road.
Raphinha has failed to find his top form in Spain, however, and has only started seven of Barcelona’s 16 La Liga matches. And Barca could decide to cash in on their star while there is still plenty of demand for him.
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Raphinha was part of the Brazil squad for the World Cup in Qatar and started four of his country’s five matches as his team reached the quarter-finals before succumbing to Croatia. And the ace has already exhibited his prodigious talents in the Premier League after starring for Leeds for two seasons.
Arsenal have signed a whole host of players over the last 18 months, with the likes of Aaron Ramsdale, Ben White and Martin Odegaard moving to north London in the summer of 2021, before Gabriel Jesus, Fabio Vieira and Oleksandr Zinchenko joined the club last summer. And their recruitment has paid dividends, with Arsenal now deemed as the favourites to win the Premier League title after racking-up an incredible 47 points before the halfway stage of the season.
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