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Arsenal sign high performance coach Darren Burgess

10:57 GMT+3 19/06/2017
Darren Burgess
A former Liverpool employee, the Aussie Rules coach is set to link up with the Gunners in July after apparently being hand-picked by Arsene Wenger

Australian rules football team Port Adelaide have announced that they have reached an agreement with Arsenal which will see high performance coach Darren Burgess join the Gunners from July.

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The fitness guru, who spent two-and-a-half years as the head of fitness and conditioning with Liverpool, is said to have been handpicked by Arsene Wenger himself.

Burgess will join up with the Gunners in July, but he will return to Australia later that month to oversee the Port Adelaide's performance programme at the end of the current campaign.

Furthermore, if Adelaide make it into the AFL Finals, Burgess will return to the club for the duration and then be back in October and November to make plans for the club and help find his successor.

"We acknowledge that this is a life-changing opportunity for Darren," chief executive Keith Thomas said.

"But what we've been able to do is work with Arsenal to enact a transition process which limits any impact or disruption to our football program for this year, and retain Darren's expertise for our 2018 planning.

"We are appreciative of Arsenal's understanding that the integrity of our football program is the absolute priority for our club."

Burgess, meanwhile, said the decision to join Arsene Wenger's side was a tough one.

“Reaching this decision has been one of the toughest decisions in my professional career," he said.

“When the opportunity came up to return to Port Adelaide I had no hesitation in returning. Port Adelaide is like family and once you’ve worked in this environment with so many outstanding people it is very difficult to leave.

“However, the opportunity to return to the English Premier League and work at one of the world’s most successful sporting organisations in Arsenal is an opportunity I simply couldn’t refuse.

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“I look forward to continue having a relationship with Port Adelaide from afar and thank the entire club for their support and many great memories over two stints.”

Burgess spent over eight years at Adelaide over two spells, while he previously worked with Liverpool and the Australia Football Federation.

Arsenal and Port Adelaide are also developing a partnership, which they say will allow them to grow sports science and professional development opportunities.