Arsenal captain Laurent Koscielny refused to travel on the club’s pre-season tour of the United States after a request to have his contract cancelled was rejected, PA understands.
The 33-year-old was due to fly out to the USA with the rest of the squad on Thursday but the club announced earlier in the day that the defender would not be travelling.
It is understood Koscielny, whose contract runs until next year, made it clear to the club that he wishes to be released from the agreement this summer in order to sign for another club.
But Arsenal have stood firm and, upon their refusal to grant the former France international a free transfer, Koscielny responded by not joining his team-mates in the USA.
“Laurent Koscielny has refused to travel to the US for our pre-season tour,” a club statement read.
“We are very disappointed by Laurent’s actions, which are against our clear instructions.
“We hope to resolve this matter and will not be providing any further comment at this time.”
Internal disciplinary proceedings will begin against Koscielny in the coming days as the rest of Unai Emery’s squad prepare for the new Premier League campaign.
Koscielny’s future is now in doubt ahead of the season opener at Newcastle on August 11 and the situation may leave Arsenal needing to recruit another centre-back in the transfer window.
They are closing in on the capture of Saint-Etienne’s 18-year-old defender William Saliba but that deal is expected to see the teenager return to the Ligue 1 side on loan for the next season.
Koscielny did not feature for the Gunners until December last season, spending seven months on the sidelines overcoming a serious Achilles injury suffered in Europa League semi-final defeat to Atletico Madrid last May.
He has made 353 appearances for Arsenal since joining from Lorient in 2010, scoring 27 goals and winning two FA Cups.
Sam Allardyce has revealed he turned down the chance to take the vacant manager’s job at Newcastle.
The former England boss, who held the position at St James’ Park from 2007 until 2008, was under consideration to replace Rafael Benitez, who left the club at the end of June.
However, Allardyce told talkSPORT: “I was very flattered that I was considered but it’s that thing… ‘don’t go back.’
“It never got to the type of talks people are suggesting but it wasn’t for me. I politely said ‘no’.
“I never got to talk to Mike (Ashley, owner of the club). My agent contacted me, I had a think about it and a quick look at the situation and thanked them very much.
“it’s not for me. Maybe if it was the first time around I would have jumped at it. I appreciate the offer but I was surprised, I’ve not worked for a full season.”
Allardyce continued: “‘It wasn’t something I thought about for too long.
“I thought it’d be better to make a quick decision for everyone. We’re in pre-season now and they’re back in training.”
PA understands that another former Sunderland manager, Steve Bruce, is the man at the top of the Magpies’ shortlist and that formal contact with the 58-year-old Sheffield Wednesday boss is imminent.
Allardyce believes Bruce would love to be offered the position, adding: “If he gets offered the job I’ll think he’ll jump at the chance.
“I think it would be one of his dreams to manage his hometown club.”
On his previous stint on Tyneside, Allardyce explained: “It wasn’t pleasant in the end but it was in the middle of the takeover.
“I had a fabulous start but we were desperate for better players. I was trying to forge forward and they wanted to go in another direction and I have no problems with that. It was handled brilliantly by Mike and his staff at the time.
“The fans are a bit more tolerant now. They were very good with Rafa because there’s not as much money as other clubs have got and were a bit more patient.
“The transfer market is the hardest part of the job at the moment and getting the right players to go to Newcastle, listening to what Rafa said before, has been a tough job.”
Allardyce is not ruling out a return to Premier League management but maintains the job has to be right for him.
The 64-year-old, whose last top-flight job – at Everton – ended in May 2018, added: “I wouldn’t rule it out but the offer that attracts me may not come now.
“Before I’d (be) ‘I’ll come and try to save you, can I do something here, yeah, let’s go’.
“But what happened at Everton really did disappoint me. This was supposed to be taking the club forward and I never got that chance – and that still rankles with me.”
New Chelsea boss Frank Lampard admitted his side need to boost their fitness after a draw with Bohemians.
The Blues were held to a 1-1 draw in Dublin after Michy Batshuayi’s opener was cancelled out by trialist Eric Molloy’s late goal.
It was Lampard’s first game after he was appointed at Stamford Bridge following his exit from Derby last week.
“Fitness was our issue, we’ve been working hard on it, even this morning,” he told a press conference after the game.
“Fitness was always going to be an issue against a team that’s halfway through their season. We certainly pushed ourselves to the limit.
“The quicker we get there the better. It’s about individuals getting fit. Some of the young lads were really good. We want to get a level of fitness and intensity in their game.”
Lampard gave Danny Drinkwater the chance to impress from the start after he was frozen out by old boss Mauricio Sarri.
Batshuayi, who had been on loan at Crystal Palace from January, also started and he fired in from close range after eight minutes.
Tiemoue Bakayoko and Kurt Zouma featured after their loans last term but Lampard was denied victory following Molloy’s 89th-minute leveller.
“I’ve enjoyed it, we’ve got great support over here. It was a tough game for us, we’ve only been here for a few days. But I’m pleased with how we got on,” Lampard added.
“I’ve been pleased with the players’ attitude since I arrived last week.”