Wednesday 20 September 2017

Arsenal to appoint Liverpool's former head of fitness as director of high performance performance

 

Arsene Wenger
Arsene Wenger

Jason Burt

Arsenal are expected to appoint Australian fitness expert Darren Burgess into a new role as director of high performance.

Burgess is close to agreeing a deal with the Gunners in a move that has been driven through by chief executive Ivan Gazidis, who promised fans earlier this year that changes would be made. However, it will be left to manager Arsene Wenger to rubber-stamp the fine details.

The highly-rated Burgess, who will report directly to Wenger, is expected to be given a wide-ranging brief to include overall control of medical, fitness, psychology and performance analysis. He will also work with the club's academy.

Scouting

However, Burgess' planned role will not include player recruitment or scouting - a sign that Wenger has won his battle to make sure Arsenal did not appoint a director of football.

Burgess previously worked at Liverpool from 2010-2012, where he was highly-rated by the players, before returning to Australia where he had previously been in charge of fitness and conditioning for the Socceroos national team that reached the 2010 World Cup finals in South Africa.

At Liverpool, Burgess worked under three different managers - Kenny Dalglish, Roy Hodgson and Brendan Rodgers - and held the title of head of fitness and conditioning.

He decided to step down after admitting his role had changed under Rodgers, who brought in his own staff from Swansea City.

The Australian was disappointed to leave Liverpool and, at the time, spoke of how it had been "his dream" to work in the Premier League.

Burgess, 43, will leave his current job with the Australian club Port Adelaide, where he is the high performance manager, immediately to begin working with Arsenal as they finalise their pre-season plans.

During the most turbulent part of Arsenal's season - when they lost seven out of 12 games in all competitions between January 31 and April 10 - Gazidis claimed there was a "catalyst for change" this summer.

However, Wenger proved resistant to relinquishing control of the club's transfer strategy and also refused to make significant changes to his long-serving backroom staff - including goalkeeping coach Garry Payton.

Meanwhile Arsenal have received further encouragement in their attempts to sign Alexandre Lacazette from Lyon.

According to sources close to the French striker, he has accepted that he should not hold out for a move to Atletico Madrid - a deal was agreed before FIFA imposed a transfer ban on the Spanish club, preventing them registering a any new players until January.

Arsenal have made an offer for Lacazette, but are not thought to have come close - yet - to Lyon's asking price of €55m plus €12m in add-ons for the 26-year-old.

There is also concern from Lacazette that Arsenal are not in the Champions League next season.

Also at Arsenal, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain's talks over a new contract have faltered, with the England winger frustrated that he has still not been offered a new deal.

There were positive preliminary talks soon after the season ended but, with Oxlade-Chamberlain now on holiday, no formal offer has been made.

Wenger has talked frequently about the need to keep Oxlade-Chamberlain and a deal worth more than £100,000-a-week was expected to be agreed quickly, with the player now in the final year of his contract and increasingly uncertain about his future.

Liverpool previously enquired about the former Southampton player, who finished the season with Arsenal strongly in the wing-back position but still regards central midfield as his ideal position.

Liverpool would be willing to play him in midfield, but there is deeper competition at Arsenal, with Granit Xhaka and Aaron Ramsey having finished the season in those two positions and Mohamed Elneny and Francis Coquelin also pushing for more game time. (© Daily Telegraph, London.)

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