Slavia Prague manager Jindrich Trpisovsky has done his best to put the focus back on their Euorpa League clash with Arsenal amid deep questions about Ondrej Kudela.
The Czech Republic international, 34, was Rangers’ Glen Kamara allegedly racially abused in Europa League round of 16. As the investigation continues, Kudela has been given a temporary one-match ban.
This suspension rules him out of Thursday’s game with Arsenal, but a much longer suspension could occur if he is ultimately found guilty.
Scottish police are also investigating the incident and Slavia’s return to the UK has brought Kudela to light again.
However, Slavia coach Trpisovsky did everything he could to refocus attention on Arsenal after insisting, Kudela would not have played even if he had not been banned.
“He’s not here,” Trpisovsky said on the eve of the game.
“He has health problems, he couldn’t come. He has a fever and is taking antibiotics.
“It stems from what happened in the national game and right now I’m just focusing on the game, on the sports side.
“I really don’t have an answer, he’s not here, he’s not going to play, he wouldn’t have played anyway.
“It’s not just him that we miss – we miss three more center-backs.
“We really have to look at the squad we have.
“We’re going to show on the pitch and of course come to a stadium like this, such a big club, it’s a big step for us and we have players who are new, this is their first season and this is a great experience for them too.
Arsenal eyeing Sporting’s ‘next Bruno Fernandes’
Meanwhile, Arsenal have reportedly made contact with Sporting Lisbon over a deal to sign talented playmaker Pedro Goncalves.
The 22-year-old has received rave reviews in Portugal this season, having filled the void left by Bruno Fernandes. Arrived from Famalicao this summer, Goncalves has 15 goals and five assists to his name. His form took him on the sidelines of the Portuguese national team.
Indeed, his performances have already led to speculation linking him to estrangement. Having drawn comparisons with Fernandes, Goncalves has been mentioned as a possible target for Manchester United.
According to A bola, the Gunners have been studying Goncalves closely in recent months. Now the Portuguese outlet claims Arsenal have put a firm offer on the table to test their resolution.
Although the amount of Arsenal’s offer has not been disclosed, it looks like signing the 22-year-old won’t be easy. Under contract with Sporting until the summer of 2025, Goncalves has a release clause of 60 million euros in his contract.
Moreover, Arsenal will likely only pursue the Portuguese star if their pursuit for Martin Odegaard is unsuccessful. The Norwegian has impressed since arriving on loan and the Gunners are hoping to sign him permanently.
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