Arsenal stars set for ICC

Ozil, Aubameyang, Mkhitaryan bound for S'pore; PSG, Atletico may miss key players

Germany's early exit from the 2018 World Cup is a blessing in disguise for local Arsenal fans as new coach Unai Emery confirmed yesterday that midfielder Mesut Ozil will be part of the squad travelling to Singapore for the International Champions Cup (ICC) next week.

Supporters of the north London club can watch Ozil in action at the National Stadium when the Gunners take on Spanish LaLiga powerhouses Atletico Madrid and French giants Paris Saint-Germain at the pre-season tournament from July 26-30.

Arsenal will play Atletico on July 26 in a repeat of last season's Europa League semi-finals, won by eventual champions Atletico, before taking on PSG on July 28.

"All the players are the same," Emery told Arsenal's official website yesterday. "They have the same holidays. I know (Alex) Iwobi, (Mohamed) Elneny and Mesut Ozil. He's coming with us to Singapore the first day."

Ozil will be hoping to get his pre-season preparations off to a good start after being criticised for his lacklustre performances in Russia as defending champions Germany crashed out at the group stage after shock defeats by Mexico and South Korea in Group F.

The Straits Times understands that the 29-year-old will be joined in Singapore by striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan and veteran goalkeeper Petr Cech.

Arsenal have signed five players so far in the off-season in goalkeeper Bernd Leno, defenders Sokratis Papastathopoulos and Stephan Lichtsteiner, and midfielders Lucas Torreira and Matteo Guendouzi.

It remains to be seen if Lichtsteiner and Torreira will be given extended breaks after their national teams reached the knockout stages in Russia.

Lichtsteiner's Switzerland lost to Sweden in the last 16 while Torreira's Uruguay fell to eventual champions France in the quarter-finals.

Question marks also hang over the star players of Atletico and PSG who were involved in the latter stages of the World Cup.

Atletico stars Antoine Griezmann and Lucas Hernandez started the World Cup final on Sunday when they beat Croatia 4-2. Their club team-mate Sime Vrsaljko was in the Croatian team.

But perhaps what interests the local fans most is whether Brazilian superstar Neymar and French teenage sensation Kylian Mbappe will still be part of the PSG team when the ICC comes around.

Last week, Real Madrid denied "constant reports" linking them with a move for 26-year-old Neymar, who led Brazil to the quarter-finals before losing to Belgium.

The Spanish giants also denied earlier this month they had agreed a deal to sign Mbappe, who scored four goals and was named the best young player at the World Cup.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 17, 2018, with the headline 'Arsenal stars set for ICC'. Print Edition | Subscribe