Arsenal’s best defender even when watching from a treatment table

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LAURENT BLANK

Arsenal are the legal property of a man who spends his days in front of a gigantic abacus in the USA! USA!! USA!!! showing little interest in how his club is doing on pitches back in the old continent. So there is a certain irony to suggestions that Arsenal are captained by a man hellbent on sitting on his hole in the old continent because he thinks what Arsenal do on pitches in the USA! USA!! USA!!! should not be any of his business. Yet that appears to be where we are with Arsenal now, as the club announced that Laurent Koscielny has opted not to travel with the team on their pre-season flight over the plastic and water cocktail known as the Atlantic Ocean.

The Fiver likes to think that the Frenchman, inspired by his grand tease of a compatriot and former manager, strung everyone along for a while by muttering “maybe I will go … but maybe not!”, but we have no way of finding the willpower to try to prove that. There’s only so much Tin can do. So all we can say for sure is that Arsenal are in a righteous funk. “We are very disappointed by Laurent’s actions, which are against our clear instructions,” bawled the club, furious that a player with one year to run on his contract does not feel obliged to get his hide over to the Land of the Free when he’s darn well told to. “We hope to resolve this matter and will not be providing any further comment at this time,” the statement petered out Arsenally.

Word is Koscielny was hoping to have concluded a move back to France by now, ideally to Bordeaux, who are said to have offered him a sweet three-year deal. But for that to happen he needs Arsenal to waive any transfer fee or keep it low, but the club aren’t playing ball. You can understand why they think he is worth a lot: he may only have featured in 30 of the club’s 58 matches last season but he was probably Arsenal’s best defender even in the ones he watched from a treatment table. And since Arsenal’s transfer activity so far has consisted of signing one 18-year-old forward and pushing the stapler on Unai Emery’s desk from the left-hand corner to a position on the right just besides the mouse, the swear jar and the puddle of hot tears, Koscielny, or a lot of money for Koscielny, may actually be needed.

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QUOTE OF THE DAY

“I do not know how this works, I have no idea, but I wanted to ask the government to invest more in education. Many will miss out because they lack investment. So I ask you to invest more in education, which is very important for our state to grow” – shout to Richarlison, calling out the good call while being honoured by his home Espírito Santo state for winning the Copa América with Brazil.

Win after win for Richarlison.
Win after win for Richarlison. Photograph: Chris Brunskill/Fantasista/Getty Images

FIVER LETTERS

“This is not in the usual vein of the letters seen here, but it’s unfunny enough to belong in The Fiver. The ticker-tape parade held for the USA! USA!! USA!!! women’s national team was a few blocks from my office, so I stepped out to have a look. Even compared to 2015, the crowds were massive and all the young girls present could testify to the inspiration these women bring to them. When I returned to work, a colleague came by and told me that, as a college athlete, she would never have expected this sort of reception for women’s sports. The experience gave me a warm and fuzzy feeling, and that’s all I have to say about that” – Matt Richman.

“To a former Notts County fan, Ferg Slade’s sorry tale of the club’s demise (yesterday’s Fiver letters) made for a sobering read. A few years back, having moved overseas and needing to switch allegiance to a Premier League club so as to participate in the office b@ntz, I realised that my black and white ‘Magpies’ bobble hat could be deftly recycled by joining the Toon Army. Would anybody like to hear how that’s going?” – Andrew Fawcett.

“Against my better judgment, I recently took the plunge and subscribed to The Fiver. Oddly enough it is delivered in my ‘Promotion’ folder. This has led me to wonder exactly what it is The Fiver is promoting. Wish to God it were humour” – Guy Robert.

Send your letters to the.boss@theguardian.com. And you can always tweet The Fiver via @guardian_sport. Today’s winner of our prizeless letter o’the day is … Andrew Fawcett.

BITS AND BOBS

News, at least, for Andrew Fawcett and other Newcastle followers: Sam Allardyce has blabbed about being offered another go at the Tyneside funfair. “I was very flattered that I was considered but it’s that thing … don’t go back,” he cheered. “It wasn’t for me.” Bernard Cribbins it will be, then.

Marko Arnautovic has used his Shanghai SIPG unveiling to have a pop at The Fiver and other media outlets. “They do not train with me, they do not play with me, but they just write something,” he fumed. “Maybe that’s the characteristic of European media, the truth is that I always give everything to my team, I never spare myself.”

Honk!
Honk! Photograph: STR/AFP/Getty Images

Internazionale are stepping up their attempts to prise Romelu Lukaku from Manchester United’s admittedly loose grasp.

Sixteen-year-old Louie Barry is swapping West Bromwich High Street for Las Ramblas after joining Barcelona in a deal costing the European giants £235,000 in compo.

Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes has signed a two-year contract extension. “It’s no secret that I love working for this club,” he cooed.

Woof! Headwear salesman and celebrity pup owner Daniel Sturridge has been reunited with his stolen dog. “I can’t believe it,” he whooped. “I’m so thankful.”

And in more USA! USA!! USA!!! tour news, Cardiff duo Lee Tomlin and Gary Madine will miss the Bluebirds’ trip because of visa issues relating to prior affray and assault charges, respectively.

STILL WANT MORE?

USA! USA!! USA!!! have soaked up the parades and the accolades after their World Cup glory; now to grow their domestic league, writes Caitlin Murray.

Leicester are refreshed and healthy, and ready to shake up the Premier League again, reckons Stuart James.

King Brenny bringing the flex.
King Brenny bringing the flex. Photograph: Plumb Images/Leicester City via Getty Images

Floating brain in a jar Jonathan Wilson is in Cairo eyeing up Nigeria’s prospects of glory in an Africa Cup of Nations stronger on drama than quality.

The bookies say Manchester City are Champions League favourites. Hmm, goes Paul Wilson.

YouTube of the classic variety.

Dominic Fifield reports on Frank Lampard’s Chelsea’s first match under Frank Lampard, a bumpy Dublin draw against Bohs.

Martin Laurence explains why newly-promoted Aston Villa aren’t doing a Fulham.

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