Arsenal

Gabriel forced into brilliant Arsenal training forfeit as potential transfer hint is spotted

The Arsenal squad are in good spirits ahead of this weekend’s Premier League clash against Bournemouth.

After starting the new season with wins over Crystal Palace and Leicester City, it is, perhaps, no surprise that the mood inside the club is a positive one and that was reflected in a training session at London Colney on Tuesday as Mikel Arteta and his coaching staff put the players through their paces.

Even with Emile Smith Rowe and summer signing Fabio Vieira not involved, there were still plenty of talking points to come from the session as wonderkid Brooke Norton-Cuffy received a call-up not too long after committing his future to Arsenal by signing a new contract.

With preparations for Saturday’s game at the Vitality Stadium underway, media footage has been released on the club’s official website to get fans in the mood for the second away fixture of the new campaign and here is what football.london spotted from the session.

Marquinhos’ nickname revealed

The summer signing from Sao Paulo has enjoyed a bright start to life at Arsenal – albeit with the Under-21s – by scoring three goals in two appearances against Manchester United and West Ham United. Rather than exposing the Brazilian to first-team football immediately, it would appear that a decision has been taken to ease him in.

However, Marquinhos continues to train with the senior squad and was involved in Tuesday’s session where his new nickname may have been revealed. At around the 4.49-minute mark, the teenager shows quick feet to evade a tackle from Granit Xhaka and in the background, someone shouted “Yes Rocky” before he passed the ball to Eddie Nketiah.

Norton-Cuffy’s role

As mentioned, Norton-Cuffy was called up by Arteta for the session and the role he played was rather interesting. Despite being a right-back with aspirations to emulate Reece James and Trent Alexander-Arnold, he operated as a centre-back during a small-sided training game.

Playing alongside Gabriel Magalhaes with Ben White continuing at right-back, it was certainly interesting to note a positional change for the teenager as it is something to keep an eye on should he train with the first-team again in the near future as it could be a permanent alteration later in his career.

Gabriel’s forfeit

Now, the main event of this particular training session was the keepy-up challenge that came with a twist. Arteta set his players the task to get from one side of the pitch to the other but keeping the ball in the air whilst in transit and the player that finished last had to bring breakfast for the squad the following day.

First over the line was Oleksandr Zinchenko, whose serious approach to training was evident throughout the clip. Meanwhile, Xhaka, Matt Turner, Mohamed Elneny and Gabriel Magalhaes were among those who had to start again fairly quickly after letting the ball touch the ground.

After Turner had successfully completed the challenge, Gabriel and Marquinhos were the final two. To determine the loser Arteta ordered a mini-battle between the two Brazilians which the defender lost despite hilariously pleading his case with the Arsenal manager.

Not too happy about having to bring in breakfast and Nicolas Pepe’s reaction, the 24-year-old grabbed the ball from Thomas Partey and attempted to boot it straight at the Ivorian who managed to get out of the way.

Transfer hint?

We have reached that stage of the summer where any notable absentees from a training session will lead to speculation regarding a player’s future. Arsenal’s latest one is unlikely to be any different as there was no sign of Hector Bellerin who has been linked with a return to Real Betis.

Was he busy finalising a move to the La Liga outfit which may include the termination of his Gunners contract given Betis’ financial struggles or was the Spaniard present at London Colney but just didn’t take part in the session? It should also be noted that Aaron Ramsdale nor Cedric Soares were spotted either.

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