Arsenal on alert over Bernard as Draxler hopes get a boost

Shakhtar Donetsk midfielder Bernard concerned by Ukraine crisis, as Rode joins Bayern

BY Bill Mann LAST UPDATED AT 08:49 ON Thu 6 Mar 2014

COULD Brazilian Bernard do a bunk to avoid the belligerence of Vladimir Putin? That's the bombshell dropped by the Daily Express, which claims Arsenal and Tottenham are on red alert after the Brazilian midfielder admitted he was concerned by the deepening unrest in the Ukraine.

The 21-year-old midfielder arrived at Shakhtar Donetsk last summer in a £20m deal from Atletico Mineiro, much to the chagrin of both Arsenal and Tottenham who had been trailing the Samba star. But as Russia and Ukraine continue their tense stand-off and there are clashes in Donetsk, Bernard has said he's weighing up his options. "I have already talked to the ambassador of Brazil about if it gets worst if we leave Ukraine as soon as possible," explained the playmaker, adding: "I have this concern but it is now left in the hands of God."

Asked if he was considering a permanent move out of the Ukraine, possibly to England, Bernard said: "The [Shaktar] president does not want to release me...[but] I have the dream of playing for a big European club."

Arsenal may have been encouraged in their pursuit of German star Julian Draxler by the news that their rivals for his signature, Bayern Munich, have agreed a deal for another young midfielder, Sebastian Rode, who will join the German champions from Eintracht Frankfurt at the end of the season.

Website Sport Witness carries news of the deal and also reports that Bayern are after Borussia Dortmund playmaker Ilkay Gundogan. If those two do arrive at the club, says the website they will have very little need to add anyone else to their roster this summer.

That will please the Gunners, who have been tailing Draxler since last season. It could also cheer up David Moyes. The website notes that Bayern's midfield may be so chock-a-block that they decide to offload an existing star. The most likely to leave is Toni Kroos, who is wanted by Manchester United.

Elsewhere and the Daily Star says that though Liverpool missed out on Armenian midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan last summer they "could have more luck" with a second bid this June. Mkhitaryan threw in his lot with Borussia Dortmund last year, dissing the Reds in the process by sniffily saying: "Liverpool have a great past, but Borussia Dortmund have a great present."

Alas Mkhitaryan's words have come back to bite him with Dortmund now 20 points behind Bayern in the Bundesliga while Liverpool are still very much in with a shout of winning their first league title since 1990. The 25-year-old appears to recognise he was premature in his put down of Liverpool and according to the Star has refused to rule out a move to Anfield at the end of the season. "Of course I know how much Liverpool wanted me, but what happened, happened," he told reporters. "Can I see myself at Liverpool in the future? You know that it doesn't depend entirely on me. But this is life and everything is possible."

Indeed it is, which may explain why one of Europe's most experienced strikers says he quite fancies a spell at Stoke. Wolfsburg hitman Ivica Olic, says he is seriously considering seeing out his days with the Potters. The Croatian legend (capped 90 times by his country) told local rag Jutarnji List: "There are many rumours about my future. The press are talking about me moving to the USA, to Qatar, but Stoke City remains my first choice." Asked why he wanted to move to the Britannia Stadium, where he would sharing a dressing room with Charlie 'the trampler' Adam, he responded: "It would be really nice to play against Manchester United, Liverpool and other great English clubs." United? Olic must be stuck in 2012?

On the subbject of United, Talksport reports that Ronald de Boer has joined the ranks of those who say Robin van Persie is unsettled at Old Trafford and could well be heading for the exit in the summer. Van Persie has cut a forlorn figure of late, even criticising some of his United teammates, and compatriot De Boer believes the writing is on the dressing room wall for the Dutch striker "I don't think he's enjoying the football Man United are playing," de Boer told Talksport. "He's a team player but he likes to play beautiful football and that isn't the case at the moment."

And on the subject of what might prompt van Persie to part company with United, de Boer said: "Man United need to refresh their squad... if there's no investment in new, young, great players from other clubs, then he will move." · 

For further concise, balanced comment and analysis on the week's news, try The Week magazine. Subscribe today and get 6 issues completely free.