After the UK Government green-lit sport to return from June 1, Premier League clubs remain in talks over Project Restart with the hope of resuming the 2019-20 season amid the coronavirus pandemic in the middle of next month. Meanwhile, speculation around potential transfer for the 2020-21 season remains in full swing.
We’ll keep you abreast of all the news from our correspondents, and the talking points and rumours from the rest of Europe.
Latest transfer news and rumours…
Arsenal eye Neto
Arsenal are interested in signing Barcelona goalkeeper Neto this summer, according to reports.
Neto joined Barca from Valencia last summer, but has been told he is already surplus to requirements at Camp Nou.
And the Sunday Express claims that Arsenal are keen to bolster their goalkeeping options with the 30-year-old Brazilian.
CRYSTAL PALACE NEWS
Newcastle to move for Zaha
Crystal Palace star Wilfried Zaha is on Newcastle United’s wishlist and the Magpies will move for the Ivorian once their Saudi takeover is completed.
The Sun on Sunday reports that Newcastle have already made initial inquiries about Zaha’s availability.
Palace rejected countless offers from Arsenal last summer, with South London club valuing Zaha at £80million.
Part of the reason for Palace’s high valuation of Zaha is due to a 20% sell-on clause that would be owed to Manchester United following the deal that brought him back to Selhurst Park in 2015.
PREMIER LEAGUE NEWS
Chelsea gain advantage in Sancho race?
Chelsea’s hopes of pipping Manchester United to the signing of England international Jadon Sancho could be set to receive a massive boost.
They claim that the Blues are due to receive £48.5m for the Spanish striker, and that those funds could be used to bolster their bid for the Borussia Dortmund star.
Tottenham will have no shortage of interested parties should they decide to sell Tanguy Ndombele, according to the Daily Star.
The 24-year-old has fallen out of favour under Jose Mourinho after struggling to adapt in the Premier League since his big-money switch from Lyon.
Barcelona have been linked with the France international, but the report adds Inter would be among the clubs vying for his signature if he leaves the north London outfit.
Arsenal are looking to sign Barcelona goalkeeper Neto as back-up for Bernd Leno.
Reports in Spain suggest the Catalan giants are ready to offload the Brazilian, who has been limited to a handful of appearances as Marc-Andre ter Stegen’s understudy.
Neto has a contract until 2022 but according to The Express, Arsenal could pick up the 30-year-old for a cut-price fee, although Atletico Madrid, Sevilla and AC Milan are also in the hunt.
Chelsea are “not expected” to take up their option to buy back Jeremie Boga from Sassuolo this summer, according to The Express.
The 23-year-old has caught the eye of several clubs in Europe, including Napoli and Barcelona, after his £3.5m move from Stamford Bridge last summer.
Under the terms of the deal, Boga can be purchased for around £13m and it was claimed Frank Lampard was ready to give the deal the green light.
But the Express’s report seems to suggest it won’t happen as the Blues prepare to bolster their squad this summer.
Antonio Conte could be about to get one over on his former club Chelsea and Tottenham as Inter Milan look to secure three deals this summer.
Chelsea want to sign Dries Mertens on a free transfer, but according to Gazzetto dello Sport, Inter are keen to snatch the 32-year-old away from the Blues on a free transfer.
Spurs could be also be affected by the Italian outfit’s transfer business as it is claimed they will move for Thomas Meunier, who will become a free agent this summer.
And the icing on the cake? Conte also wants to raid Tottenham to lure Jan Vertonghen to the San Siro this summer. Jose Mourinho and Frank Lampard: you have been warned.
MAN UTD NEWS
Juventus should look to sign Paul Pogba by selling Aaron Ramsey and Adrien Rabiot, according to former midfielder Alessio Tacchinardi.
The World Cup winner has been linked with a return to Turin ever since he went back to Old Trafford and reports claimed the Serie A outfit are lining up a transfer bid.
And Tacchinardi believes that despite Ramsey’s good form, the Bianconeri would benefit from offloading the pair to make fund a deal for Pogba.
“In order to get Pogba back, I would let Rabiot and Ramsey go, even if the Welshman did show a few signs of life in the last few games.”
Chelsea boss Frank Lampard is keen to extend the contracts of Olivier Giroud and Willian until the end of the season.
The Premier League agreed earlier this week that contracts expiring until June 30 can be extended on a short-term basis beyond their current length if there is an agreement with all parties concerned.
The Blues could still lose the pair this summer, with Willian, 31, determined to find a club willing to offer a three-year deal and Giroud, 33, looking for regular playing time. But Lampard hopes they will at least see out the season at Stamford Bridge.
“It is still uncertain if and when play will get underway. We have big players [out of contract] so that’s something I’m obviously looking at very carefully,” he told Sky Sports News.
“The ones who are out of contract here have been great servants for the club, and actually have a lot of feelings for the club. Of course they’ll be concerned about themselves, in terms of how training is now and if the pre-season is a rush they’re going to have to make sure they’re alright.
“So it’s going to have to be something we have to look at, hopefully that arrangement can be made so they can stay with us. I would love the squad to look as it has all season, but we’ll have to see how that works.”
MAN UTD NEWS
Who is Man Utd target Alassane Plea?
Manchester United have been linked with a move for Borussia Monchengladbach forward Alassane Plea as the club search for reinforcements in attack.
The 27-year-old scored eight goals in 22 league games prior to the Bundesliga’s suspension, also providing seven assists.
And he needed less than 40 seconds to get on the scoresheet as Gladbach got their season back underway on Saturday, netting a fine goal away at Eintracht Frankfurt with a low finish across the goalkeeper after bringing the ball down well during the build-up play.
According to Sky Germany, United have made contact with Plea’s representatives, with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer desperate to bolster his attack this summer.
Ed Woodward recently admitted the coronavirus pandemic would likely lead to significant financial constraints, however.
And ESPN reports Plea could be available for as little as £25million – significantly less than both Borussia Dortmund star Jadon Sancho and Lyon forward Moussa Dembele.
Scouting report | Jean-Clair Todibo (Schalke)
Jean-Clair Todibo endured a difficult afternoon as football returned following a two-month break on Saturday.
The 20-year-old defender, on loan at Schalke from Barcelona, has been winning rave reviews in the Bundesliga since his January move – but he lasted only 45 minutes in his side’s 4-0 loss to Borussia Dortmund.
Schalke have a €25million (£22.35m) option to make the defender’s move permanent, but there are doubts over whether the German side will be able to afford him this summer.
Scouting report | Timo Werner (RB Leipzig)
David Lynch watched the Germany international in action as RB Leipzig were held to a 1-1 draw against Freiburg.
MAN UTD NEWS
Scouting report | Erling Haaland (Borussia Dortmund)
Erling Haaland, who Ole Gunnar Solskjaer tried so hard to lure to Old Trafford in January, just can’t stop scoring.
It was his brilliant finish after 29 minutes of Borussia Dortmund’s 4-0 win against Schalke that provided the first goal of the post-coronavirus world – directing Thorgan Hazzard’s cross past Markus Schubert.
It was Haaland’s 10th in nine games since his mid-season move from RB Salzburg, with every strike sparking another pang of regret within the corridors of power at Old Trafford.
Haaland displayed his all-round game with a part in all four of Dortmund’s goals. The man-mountain of a forward looks like the complete package before he’s even reached his 20th birthday.
MAN UTD NEWS
Fred: Bring more Brazilians to Man Utd
Manchester United midfielder has advised Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to bring more Brazilians to the club in the summer transfer window.
The midfielder has this season enjoyed his best spell in a United shirt since making a £52million transfer from Shakhtar Donetsk, scoring two goals in 39 appearances.
The 27-year-old, who is one of just two Brazilians in the United squad; Andreas Pereira the other, has admitted it would “be cool” to have some more of his compatriots in the team.
Of United’s summer recruitment, Fred told Esporte Interativo: “For sure, man. It would be cool to have more Brazilians on the team. Not much, we don’t need many. I’m kidding. But it’s always good to have Brazilians here to help.
“Everyone knows the qualities that we Brazilians have, and it’d be very good if some players arrive to fill the squad, to help here.”
Gnabry: Mertesacker ‘like an older brother’
Bayern Munich star Serge Gnabry has revealed former Arsenal team-mate Per Mertesacker was “like an older brother” to him during his time in north London.
The German made 18 first-team appearances for Arsenal after breaking through the youth set-up. The 24-year-old has since developed into one of most dangerous attackers in world football.
Of Mertesacker’s influence, Gnabry told the Players’ Tribune: “He used to always be so hard on me, but in a really good way. He was like an older brother for me at Arsenal.
“Per is the nicest guy in the world. But he’s also the most German guy in the world.
“Like everything he says, it’s so intense. Like he’s so tall, and he’s looking down at you trying to be intimidating but it’s also kind of friendly.
“I don’t know if there’s an English word for it. Imagine like a really friendly Arnold Schwarzenegger or something. That’s Per.”
Mbappe prepared for PSG stay
In-demand Frenchman Kylian Mbappe will not push for a move away from Paris Saint-Germain, according to L’Equipe.
The 21-year-old World Cup winner scored 18 goals in 20 league games as PSG claimed the Ligue 1 title in a season cut short due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Mbappe has been heavily linked with a move to Spanish giants Real Madrid, but with the financial constraints as a result of the pandemic expected to be drastic, the forward is reportedly happy to stay.
MAN UTD NEWS
Watch out Man Utd fans, Sancho makes his way to the field
The moment Manchester United fans have been waiting for has arrived. Primary summer transfer target Jadon Sancho has come on for Borussia Dortmund with 10 minutes to play.
Good news for Dortmund; it was reported Sancho may have been struggling with a muscle strain. However, with Dortmund 4-0 up against Schalke, it seems unlikely he would be risked if there was anything seriously wrong.
Sancho now has his opportunity to send a message to the world. Can he make an impact?
MAN UTD NEWS
Haaland an ‘absolute goal machine’
Owen Hargreaves has described Manchester United target Erling Haaland as an “absolute goal machine” after scored just 28 minutes in again Schalke.
The 19-year-old – prior to the Bundesliga’s suspension due to the coronavirus pandemic – had scored 12 goals in 11 games for Borussia Dortmund after arriving in January for just £17.1million.
Haaland has been heavily linked with both United and Spanish giants of late but has recently distanced himself from such rumours, insisting his focus is on Dortmund.
And with Germany’s top-tier returning, Haaland is showing no signs of slowing down, the youngster converting a Thorgan Hazard cross with a delightful flick into the far corner.
Speaking at half-time on BT Sport, former United midfielder Hargreaves was clearly blown away but the young forward.
“He’s still got it,” Hargreaves said. “The kid is an absolute goal-scoring machine. It is quite strange missing the fans. But a bit of quality from Dortmund – [Achraf Hakimi] is in a brilliant position, which allows [Julian] Brant to get into that space.
“That flick is a dream. A terrific ball and Haaland is just a machine. The run – everything about it is just perfect. And that finish is not easy; he makes it look so easy.
MAN UTD NEWS
Haaland reminds us what the fuss is all about
Manchester United target Erling Haaland provided an emphatic reminder as to what all the fuss is all about, scoring after just 28 minutes for Borussia Dortmund vs Schake.
The highly-touted 19-year-old – who has also attracted interest from Spanish giants Real Madrid – converted a Thorgan Hazard cross with a delightful flick into the far corner to put Dortmund 1-0 up.
Despite the lack of fans in the stadium, the youngster still ran to the corner flag in celebration. There was no ‘meditation’ pose, as we’ve become accustomed to, however.
The Norwegian has now scored 13 goals in his opening 12 games for Borussia Dortmund after arriving for just £17.1million in January.
Haaland, speaking to Sky Germany on the speculation surrounding his future, said: “I’m concentrated on the return to competition -not on the attention that is directed at me.
“I’m thinking about doing my job, which is what I like best. I’m focused on that.”
The youngster has certainly kept to his word. And with Dortmund chasing down Bayern Munich in the race for the Bundesliga title, they will be delighted their key striker has picked up just where he left off.
Mertens set to snub Chelsea
Belgian forward Dries Mertens is to ignore interest from Chelsea and instead opt for Inter Mila, report Gazzetta dello Sport.
Mertens is set to leave Napoli this summer with his contract coming to an end. And while Chelsea were said to be interested in the 33-year-old, he reportedly would prefer to stay in Italy.
Speaking on the Transfer Window podcast, transfer expert Ian McGarry said: “Mertens was Frank Lampard’s preferred replacement for Willian.
“That would be a setback for Lampard should Mertens decide to stay in Italy, given that at this moment in time there is one backup transfer target that I understand but one who he is much less keen on and one who would be much more expensive than obviously the free 33-year-old.”
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When does the 2020 summer transfer window open?
The summer window opens in England at the end of the season – currently May 18, but that will almost certainly not be when it finishes due to Covid-19 delays.
Players can be officially registered with their new clubs when the Fifa international window opens on July 1.
From January 1 onwards, Premier League players with six months left on their contract have been able to negotiate and agree pre-contract deals with foreign clubs.