Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Arsenal kick off preseason early as Mikel Arteta takes six Gunners on Marbella fitness camp

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Half a dozen Arsenal players have begun their pre-season with manager Mikel Arteta three weeks early in an early bid to boost their title challenge.

Ben White, Eddie Nketiah, Jurrien Timber, Reiss Nelson, Emile Smith Rowe and Fabio Vieira joined up with Arteta in Marbella on Monday to work on their fitness and form. Captain Martin Odegaard is due to join the group in the coming days as the squad look to jumpstart preparations for a season where they will be bidding to go one step up the Premier League table.

For Timber and Vieira the mini camp will offer a chance to build fitness after an injury-plagued 2023-24 season, particularly for the former, who suffered a major knee injury on his Premier League debut in August. Timber’s versatility in defense was missed by Arteta last season and the Dutch international will be out to carve out a role for himself in the Arsenal XI. The left back berth that was something of a problem for the Gunners last season is there to be claimed in the weeks ahead even as sporting director Edu, who will also fly out to Marbella for the camp, scours the transfer market.

Meanwhile the Hale End triumvirate of Nelson, Smith Rowe and Nketiah have begun their preparations for 2024-25 at a time when their futures are in doubt. All three have been linked with moves away from the club in recent weeks.

Most Premier League clubs are due to reconvene in mid-July, squads trickling back together in a summer of Euros and Copa America football. The Gunners play Manchester United in Los Angeles’ SoFi Stadium on July 28 before meeting Liverpool in Philadelphia three days later. Subsequently they will play Bayer Leverkusen and Lyon on home soil.

CBS Sports understands that Smith Rowe travelled out a week before the rest of the squad to get a head start on his fitness work. The 23-year-old struggled to break into Arteta’s first team last season, appearing in just 19 games across all competitions. Nelson, meanwhile, favors a move away from the club, according to CBS Sports sources. Crystal Palace, West Ham and Brighton are long term admirers.

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