Unai Emery has told Aaron Ramsey to focus on his football and not on his future as his contract impasse at Arsenal continues.
In recent seasons, the Gunners have seen on-pitch matters overshadowed by drawn-out contract negotiations with the likes of Mesut Ozil, Alexis Sanchez, Jack Wilshere and previous manager Arsene Wenger.
Sanchez joined Manchester United in the winter transfer window when it was clear he would not be signing a new deal, while Wilshere will return to Arsenal for the first time on Saturday having left for West Ham when his contract expired this summer.
Ozil agreed fresh terms in January to become the best-paid player in the club’s history, and reports suggest Ramsey, whose own deal expires at the end of the current season, wants to move closer to the wage of his German team-mate.
Emery picked Ramsey in the opening weekend defeat to Manchester City but the Wales midfielder came off early in the second half before being dropped to the bench for last weekend’s trip to Chelsea.
Now the new Arsenal head coach has called on Ramsey to keep his mind on playing well for the club and not be distracted by things away from the pitch.
“I spoke with him last week,” Emery said when asked about Ramsey’s situation.
“I said; I want you focused only on training and only on the match, you show us the capacity to help the team.
“The contract is another thing for his agent and the club but we want and I need his focus only on training, only on the match and on his performance each day.”
Asked whether he felt the required level of focus had been missing from Ramsey, Emery replied: “I don’t know but I am thinking in the present. I spoke with him last week but now, today, my focus is on the match and I want the player to be focused only on Saturday.”
Ramsey could yet be recalled to the starting line-up for Saturday’s visit of West Ham having come on as a second-half substitute in the 3-2 loss at Stamford Bridge, with Emery still searching for his first point as Arsenal boss.
One midfielder who has impressed in his short time in north London is summer signing Matteo Guendouzi.
The 19-year-old France youth international has started both games under Emery and has been one of Arsenal’s brightest players in the early stages of the campaign.
“He is improving, he is playing and working every day,” Emery said of the former Lorient man.
“He is hungry – he wants to improve, he wants to learn every day, every match.
“It is a very big, positive surprise with him. Last year he was in Ligue 2 but when the club (Arsenal) spoke with me about him, the club had worked and watched him, we agreed (to sign him).
“When he arrived here – not the first day, which is very difficult – but after two weeks we spoke and said: ‘his performance is a very big surprise’ but also in each training and match we need him to show this progress consistently.”
David Silva is yet to decide if he will play on beyond the end of his current contract at Manchester City.
The Spanish playmaker, who retired from international football earlier this month, signed a new deal last November committing him to City until 2020.
That will take the former Valencia midfielder up to 10 years’ service at the Etihad Stadium, by which time he will be 34.
Silva said: “I have two more years on my contract here. I feel great here. I want to stay until the end of my contract and then I’ll see how I feel physically and mentally to carry on.”
Silva made his 250th Premier League appearance for City and scored in the champions’ 6-1 thrashing of Huddersfield last weekend.
The occasion had added poignancy for Silva as his son Mateo, who was born prematurely during last season, was in attendance along with many other members of his family.
Silva said: “It’s my ninth season here, I have played lots of games, enjoyed lots of great moments too. At the end, this is like a family to me.
“It was very special. Besides the milestone of it being my 250th game and the goal I scored, having my son there healthy at the Etihad Stadium is something that I will always remember.”
City captain Vincent Kompany is set to reach the same 250 Premier League appearance milestone in Saturday’s game at Wolves.
Silva said: “He’s a good captain because he always focuses on the details. He always looks after the best interests of the team.
“He’s been here for a long time and I think he gives a lot to the team. He is an outstanding player. He gives an additional boost to the team.”
Teenage goalkeeper Aro Muric is set to be on the bench at Molineux after being recalled from his loan at NAC Breda this week following injury to Claudio Bravo.
Chile international Bravo is facing a lengthy lay-off after undergoing surgery to repair a ruptured Achilles tendon.
Muric, 19, was brought back to bolster options because the untried Daniel Grimshaw, 20, was the only other back-up to first-choice Ederson.
With the transfer window having closed, manager Pep Guardiola said this was the only option the club considered. Looking to bring in a free agent was ruled out.
Guardiola, however, does believe that clubs should be able to make loan signings when serious injuries occur.
Speaking at a press conference, the City boss said: “Yes – not just for the goalkeeper but when there are big, big injuries to players.
“If we were not allowed to bring back Aro, I don’t know what would have happened. Maybe the federation can think about that when there are long, long injuries and it is still the period where the European window is open, maybe you could do it.
“Here it is closed and it is good that the competition starts with the whole squad but maybe we could think about that, especially when the injuries are five or six months.
“We would have considered it, that is true.”
So too is he after the midfielder struggled to become a first choice following his £43 million move from Monaco.
But Bernardo believes the mantra ‘do better’ will help deal with the situation and reflect how he is now feeling more at home.
As they visit newly-promoted Wolves today bidding for a third successive Premier League victory, Pep Guardiola’s side have the challenge of trying to top an incredible campaign that included a landmark 100 league points, the most-ever wins and most goals.
“Yes, expectations are higher for this club, but I think you can always improve,” said Bernardo, who cut short his summer break after the World Cup finals to ensure he was better prepared for this season.
“That’s what we are going to try to do. Playing very good football, similar to last season, but we will always try to do better and better and see what happens.
“I am ready [to play my part]. When you play more minutes you feel more comfortable and confident. I’m trying to do as best as I can – and to help the team.
“After my first season I wanted to come back and do better than that. I have been working hard in the summer. The second season is always easier because you feel more adapted, you feel more at home. That’s how I feel now and I am happy with my start to the season.”
The loss of playmaker Kevin De Bruyne with a knee injury left observers speculating whether that will derail City’s challenge for more honours.
But a 6-1 win over Huddersfield last weekend – following the opening win at Arsenal – sent a clear message to their rivals.
Bernardo admits it is an opportunity for others, including himself, to step up while the brilliant Belgian is absent for around three months.
“I think it’s a big blow to lose Kevin, he is one of the best players in the world nowadays,” said the Portugal international.
“But we have a fantastic squad, we will try to do as best as we can to replace him in a way to keep the team winning.
“It’s also a good opportunity for other players as well to show what they can do. It’s a big blow to lose Kevin, but I feel we have the squad to keep going.”
City’s impressive squad depth has been emphasised by the contribution of Bernardo’s former Monaco team-mate Benjamin Mendy after he missed most of last season with a knee ligament injury.
The Frenchman, a popular figure on and off the pitch, was outstanding in the opening two games with his driving runs from left back providing chances galore.
“It’s fantastic to see him perform like this,” said Barnardo. “I knew he is a fantastic player.
“Last season he had that huge injury, but as everyone can see he’s a fantastic player and can help us a lot.
“Every day always happy, making jokes and helping the spirit and atmosphere of the club. Apart from the player, he’s a great person.”
Striker Sergio Aguero benefitted from Mendy’s assists against the Terriers, notching a 13th hat-trick for the club and ninth in the Premier League, just two shy of Alan Shearer’s record mark.
And Bernardo added of City’s all-time record scorer: “It’s fantastic what he has achieved and how he performs.
“I’ve played with Cristiano Ronaldo, Radamel Falcao, Kylian Mbappe and now Kun and Gabriel [Jesus] and it’s fantastic to play with these guys.
“It’s easy to play with a player like Kun because you just give him the ball and he scores. Three more [against Huddersfield] and an amazing performance.
“It’s so good to have him with us. It’s not surprising that he can still do this even after achieving so much. That’s what big players are made of, it’s what they do.
“He keeps scoring and scoring and is never happy with what he achieves. That’s what keeps him going and the team as well. It’s special.”
Special is also how Bernardo describes the Champions League, a major trophy target for City after their disappointing quarter-final exit to Liverpool.
“It’s a different completion, special,” added the 24-year-old, who reached the semis with Monaco in 2017.
“You always have to be focused because 10 minutes can blow the competition for you. You can get knocked out in that time. We will try to do better than last season, but we know it’s very complicated because you have tough teams you will play against. We will work hard to do better than last season.”