The A-League has become the final football code to confirm details of its return to play, with the FFA announcing that the season will resume in a month’s time.
The A-League’s last completed match was Western Sydney Wanderers v Sydney FC on March 21, before the coronavirus shutdown
Clubs will be able to return to training from June 17 once they have completed COVID-19 screenings and put plans in place to minimise risk
Games will begin on July 16 with 27 regular season matches before the finals series
Only the first two games back have been revealed.
The Victory will face United at AAMI Park on July 16, then Sydney FC will come up against Wellington Phoenix in Kogarah the following day.
The dates and locations of the rest of the schedule will be decided closer to the date, once it becomes clear whether clubs will be able to to play in their own states.
The FFA confirmed on Tuesday that the remaining 27 games to complete the home and away season will be played over 28 days.
A deal has been signed between the FFA, clubs and players associations to agree the latest the season can run is until August 31.
“The reason for having multiple draw options — which our clubs are across — is due to the fact that over the next few weeks there may be additional relaxations in border restrictions and travel movements in Australia, which may enable our clubs from Victoria, Queensland and South Australia to remain and play in their home cities, rather than relocating to New South Wales to complete the season,” FFA’s head of league, Greg O’Rourke, said in a statement.
“Regardless of which option we ultimately take, Wellington Phoenix and Perth Glory FC understand that they will complete the remainder of their regular season matches in New South Wales, with games to be played at Western Sydney Stadium, Kogarah Park, and Hunter Stadium in Newcastle.
“We are confident that we will be able to release the revised draw for the completion of the A-League 2019/20 season soon.”
O’Rourke said the expected relaxation of restrictions from July 1 was likely to allow the league to finish the season with some fans in stadiums.
A-League clubs will be free to return to training from tomorrow subject to the successful completion of COVID-19 medical screenings and the implementation of operational plans to minimise the risk of infection at their training sites and club facilities.
The ECR Group in the European Parliament has been consistent in its calls for pragmatism to prevail. Therefore, level-headed discussions must triumph over hysteria and the desire for political retribution. ECR trade spokesperson Geert Bourgeois MEP firmly believes that any distortion of the markets in terms of competition policy, state aid and social dumping should be avoided, whilst resisting any attempts to follow a narrow, protectionist pathway.
Bourgeois stated: “We need to strike an appropriate balance between ensuring a level-playing field and dynamic alignment on the one hand, and guaranteeing UK sovereignty on the other. We should, however, absolutely avoid a ‘Singapore-on-the-North Sea’. Both parties must maintain high standards for this level-playing field and in so doing we must therefore ensure that it does indeed become a deep and comprehensive future agreement with zero-tariffs and zero-quotas.”
Bourgeois continued: “The European Parliament should take extreme care so as not to patronize the British government. The UK is a highly developed country with high standards. Therefore, a high level of confidence and flexibility during the negotiations is in order.”
American uncertainty about Hong Kong was etched into its response from the very first day it reverted to Chinese control.
Then-secretary of state Madeleine Albright flew in for the 1997 celebration but made a point of snubbing one event. Voicing a fear that residents’ political freedoms might disappear, she skipped the opening of the new Hong Kong legislature.
That fear of lost autonomy is now materializing and, a quarter-century later, the United States is running into a hard deadline for picking a path on Hong Kong.
The main difference now is that the U.S., no longer the unrivalled superpower it was in 1997, is running low on options for influencing events within China.
As pro-democracy politicians get arrested and Beijing prepares a law expanding its control over the country’s free-market, free-speech enclave, CBC News reached out to a half-dozen North American authorities on China.
‘The beginning of the end of Hong Kong’s uniqueness’
When asked if the U.S. is still capable of affecting Hong Kong’s trajectory, Lynette Ong, an expert on China and authoritarian politics at Toronto’s Munk School, hesitated.
“Maybe. Maybe, possibly,” she said.
“I hate to say this, but I think it’s the beginning of the end of Hong Kong’s uniqueness.”
The general view of the experts contacted was that Washington still has several tools at its disposal. It can punish rights abusers with sanctions, grant U.S. visas to protesters, and threaten Hong Kong’s crucial trade status.
But they shared three warnings.
First, such actions might not work. Second, they might even rebound to harm the U.S. And, finally, there’s a high-ranking wild card: U.S. President Donald Trump.
Trump: the ultimate wild card
It’s still unclear if Trump cares about Hong Kong.
The president has sent mixed signals. On the one hand, he promised last week he’d react “very strongly” to any Beijing power-grab, and elaborated Tuesday, saying he’d have an “interesting” announcement within days. He’s also made standing up to China one of his main re-election arguments.
Yet there’s scant evidence of Trump taking an interest in the political freedoms of China’s semi-autonomous region.
President Obama should stay out of the Hong Kong protests, we have enough problems in our own country!Can’t even properly police White House
Just check his Twitter feed. He tweeted 118 times during the three-day Memorial Day long weekend. Hong Kong didn’t come up once.
Meanwhile, police turned a water cannon on thousands of pro-democracy protesters crowding the streets of Hong Kong as they marched against China’s move to ban secessionist and subversive activity.
WATCH | Thousands in Hong Kong protest China’s national security bill on Sunday:
Protesters and police clash in Hong Kong as thousands take to the streets to push back against a Chinese national security bill some warn could erode Hong Kong’s autonomy. 2:04
“I don’t think [Trump] actually cares about the human rights stuff,” said Bill Bishop, a writer and businessman who’s lived in both capitals, Beijing and Washington, and who now writes a daily China newsletter, Sinocism.
What makes Trump unpredictable on this issue, Ong said, is his policy will be guided by his own short-term political calculations, not long-held values.
Lou Dobbs, a usually staunchly pro-Trump TV host, even erupted in frustration the other day over what he views as a mostly all-talk China policy from the White House.
What triggered the Fox host’s ire was the release of a national security strategy that he called “pablum” and “nonsense” with respect to China.
It included one reference to Hong Kong calling for continued autonomy, and promising to be “candid” about U.S. interests in the region.
The security strategy noted that Hong Kong has 85,000 American citizens and more than 1,300 American businesses.
Three potential U.S. policy tools
A former Canadian ambassador to China, David Mulroney, said it’s still possible for democracies to influence the course of events in Hong Kong.
He said it’s imperative to push back and buy time for Hong Kong residents to vote this fall in their legislative elections, which might allow them to send a strong pro-democracy message.
“[These Beijing actions would be] the final nail in the coffin in terms of Hong Kong’s autonomy,” Mulroney said.
“It’s very late in the day. But it’s not too late.”
Mulroney identified three broad sets of actions the U.S. and allies might take:
— Migration: Protesters should be reassured, Mulroney said, that they would be allowed to enter the U.S. if they have been arrested for political dissent.
Trump’s national security adviser Robert O’Brien said in a weekend interview with NBC that he expects an exodus of financial capital and human talent from Hong Kong: “You’re … going to have a terrible brain drain.”
Bishop, however, said he doubts Trump would open the immigration floodgates — he’s actually restricting immigration during the pandemic.
— Sanctions: Mulroney said the U.S. and allies could freeze assets and deny entry to rights-violators.
Bonnie Glaser of the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies said there could be targeted sanctions against entities and individuals who violate the terms of the 1984 U.K.-China agreement.
The agreement promised Hong Kong a high degree of autonomy for 50 years after the transfer, meaning until 2047.
— Stripping Hong Kong’s status: Under the 1992 U.S.-Hong Kong Policy Act, the United States treats the region as distinct from China. The agreement allows for freer trade and travel.
Now, under a U.S. law passed recently with near-unanimous support, the State Department must report each year to Congress on whether Hong Kong still deserves that special status, based on its current political, media and legal freedoms.
Stripping that status would be “the nuclear option,” Glaser said, triggering a chain-reaction of consequences for businesses and individuals.
Canadians would feel it, too, Ong said.
Any pension fund, capital market or business with interests in Hong Kong would be affected.
“That would have quite massive ramifications. That’s not a decision that should be taken lightly,” Ong said. “It has implications not only for the United States — but for everybody. For you and me.”
The death of Hong Kong?
Will any of this scare China’s president, Xi Jinping, into reversing course?
“To be honest, not much at this point [would make a difference],” Bishop said.
“The U.S., the international community, can condemn and punish. But I think it’s very unlikely — if in fact not totally impossible — that any such punishment will actually lead to Beijing changing its decision or modifying its behaviour.”
The author of a just-released book on Hong Kong, Jeffrey Wasserstrom, is equally skeptical. He says the Chinese Community Party mainly cares about domestic opinion.
And what Chinese people are already hearing from state-controlled media is that foreigners are stirring up the Hong Kong protests, said the University of California professor and historian.
Wasserstrom said international pressure might once have had greater impact. His book, Vigil: Hong Kong on the Brink, isn’t entirely pessimistic about the city’s future.
Wasserstrom’s book begins with a striking contrast. He compares Hong Kong and West Berlin, fellow Cold War hubs, beach-heads for free expression and free markets against a sea of authoritarianism.
American presidential lore lionizes the speeches John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan gave in Berlin, where a wall fell; communism crumbled; and the U.S. emerged as an uncontested power.
Now the world awaits the U.S. response — as Hong Kongers install virtual private internet networks at a frenzied pace, fearing the rise of a new digital iron curtain.
The U.S. government late on Friday accused the Chinese government of making it impossible for U.S. airlines to resume service to China and ordered four Chinese air carriers to file flight schedules with the U.S. government.
The administration of President Donald Trump stopped short of imposing restrictions on Chinese air carriers but said talks with China had failed to produce an agreement.
The U.S. Transportation Department, which is trying to persuade China to allow the resumption of U.S. passenger airline service there, earlier this week briefly delayed a few Chinese charter flights for not complying with notice requirements.
In an order posted on a U.S. government website and seen by Reuters, the department noted Delta Air Lines and United Airlines want to resume flights to China in June, even as Chinese carriers have continued U.S. flights during the COVID-19 pandemic.
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The order said Air China, China Eastern Airlines Corp, China Southern Airlines Co, Hainan Airlines Holding Co and their subsidiaries must file schedules and other details of flights by May 27. The department warned it could find Chinese flights “contrary to applicable law or adversely affect the public interest.”
Coronavirus outbreak: Garneau says airlines facing ‘very tough times’ as customers hope for refunds
Coronavirus outbreak: Garneau says airlines facing ‘very tough times’ as customers hope for refunds
United declined to comment. The other U.S. and Chinese carriers, the Civil Aviation Authority of China (CAAC) and China’s foreign ministry did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
The department said in a statement it has “protested this situation to the Chinese authorities, repeatedly objecting to China’s failure to let U.S. carriers fully exercise their rights and to the denial to U.S. carriers of their right to compete on a fair and equal basis with Chinese carriers” and called the situation “critical.”
On Jan. 31, the U.S. government barred from entry most non-U.S. citizens who had been in China within the previous 14 days but did not impose any restrictions on Chinese flights. Major U.S. carriers voluntarily decided to halt all passenger flights to China in February.
Delta and United are flying cargo flights to China. Delta had requested approval for a daily flight to Shanghai Pudong airport from Detroit and Seattle, while United had asked to fly daily to Shanghai Pudong from San Francisco and Newark airport near New York and between San Francisco and Beijing.
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The number of weekly scheduled combination flights operated between the two countries by U.S and Chinese carriers fell from 325 in January to 20, by just the four Chinese carriers, in mid-February, before the carriers increased them to 34 in mid-March, the U.S. order said.
Airline changes as COVID-19 restrictions ease
Airline changes as COVID-19 restrictions ease
The CAAC in late March said Chinese airlines could maintain just one weekly passenger flight on one route to any given country and that carriers could fly no more than the number of flights they were flying on March 12, according to the U.S. order.
But because U.S. passenger airlines had stopped all flights by March 12, the CAAC notice “effectively precludes U.S. carriers from reinstating scheduled passenger flights to China,” the department said.
CAAC told the U.S. government during a May 14 call that China is considering removing the March 12 schedule pre-condition but the “restriction to once-weekly service on one route to China would remain in place,” the order said.
Earlier on Friday, the U.S. Commerce Department added 33 Chinese companies and institutions to an economic blacklist for alleged human rights violations and to address U.S. national security concerns involving weapons of mass destruction and other military activities.
(Reporting by David Shepardson; Additional reporting by Brenda Goh, Stella Qiu and Ryan Woo in Beijing and Tracy Rucinski in Chicago; Editing by William Mallard)
Like many people with the gifts of vision and hearing, I haven’t always warmed to Neil Warnock.
A manager who never missed the chance to turn a slight into a blood vendetta, practised killing referees with death-stares from 50 paces and had more excuses for losing matches than a class dunce had for not doing his homework.
But a colourful eccentric, who we miss in post-match interviews the same way we’ll miss Donald Trump when he’s finally dragged out of the White House in a straitjacket.
And this week Warnock inadvertently offered some perspective to those who believe the only reasons for resuming the Premier League are rampant greed and the coronation of “media darlings” Liverpool.
He reminded us that Sheffield United sit in an excellent position to make the European places, which would be a fitting testament to “the tactical genius” of Chris Wilder.
Since lockdown, there has been much raving about the renaissance of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Manchester United.
Some pundits have looked at their recent run of form and argued they are two or three signings away from challenging for the title.
What has hardly been mentioned is that Sheffield United are two points behind Solskjaer’s men with a game in hand. Win it and they leapfrog them into fifth place, two points off fourth-placed Chelsea, who have yet to visit Bramall Lane.
Meaning they have a decent chance of making the Champions League places, especially if Manchester City fail to overturn their two-year European ban next month and a place opens up to the team who finish fifth.
Wolves are in the mix too.
With 27 points still to play for, they are five points off Chelsea, who they meet on the final day.
As third favourites to win the Europa League, you wouldn’t rule out Nuno Espirito Santo and his team qualifying for the Champions League through that route either.
In this era of a supposed Big Six monopoly, what an incredible achievement that would be for either Wolves or Sheffield United to represent England in the world’s top club competition.
Especially Wilder’s side, who many believed only gained automatic promotion last year after Leeds blew up in the home straight.
A team, who virtually every pundit outside South Yorkshire (including me) tipped to go straight back down to the Championship after a sobering football lesson.
Gaining a Champions League spot would be up there with Leicester City’s Premier League win as one of the greatest achievements of modern English football.
And, like Leicester, it would be fully deserved because the Blades have been a revelation.
Wilder is a breath of fresh air, grounded, modest, generous and ego-free.
The way he has fearlessly set up the Blades to play 3-5-2 in the top flight and the way he instilled the belief they were the equal of every team they faced, meant the perception of them swiftly switched from an easy three points to the toughest of opponents.
The Mirror recently asked a fan of every Premier League club if they thought the season should be curtailed.
Darren Fletcher, a Bramall Lane regular for 45 years, answered: “We’re on the cusp of something pretty significant and it would be unfair on everyone connected with Sheffield United to be robbed of that.”
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“Pretty significant” is a classic piece of Yorkshire understatement. Wilder could go from leading his hometown club into a League One game at Port Vale in April 2017 to possibly taking them to the Nou Camp in a Champions League group decider this autumn.
If football can safely resume behind closed doors, that’s a shot he thoroughly deserves.
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Michel Barnier, Head of Task Force for Relations with the United Kingdom
At the end of the third round of negotiations, EU/UK stalemate continued. The EU described the talks as “disappointing” and the UK “regretted” that little progress has been made. The areas of contention remain as far from agreement as in the previous rounds, with a recalcitrant UK refusing to budge, or to understand the issues.
While the UK has finally produced a paper on fisheries (not yet published) and been willing to negotiate in areas of self-interest, as long as there are few strings attached, they have not moved on fundamentals. However, the EU will not agree to a “pick and choose” approach, one that “slices sector by sector”, as has been clear from the outset and clear to anyone who followed the UK’s attempt at “cherry-picking” and “cake eating” from the first phase of Brexit. ‘Economic Brexit’ is proving as troublesome and there is little evidence of lessons being learned by the UK.
Barnier said that he believed that there was still a lack of understanding in the UK of the consequences of the UK’s choice to leave the Single Market and Customs Union. He said that: “The United Kingdom will have to be more realistic; it will have to overcome this incomprehension and, no doubt, it will have to change strategy.”
In the statement of the UK’s negotiator David Frost, the UK appeared to also be calling for a change in strategy from the EU: “We very much need a change in EU approach for the next Round beginning on 1 June.”
In other words, another impasse.
Level playing field
The UK side was first to release their statement following this week’s round, they accused the EU of insisting on an “ideological approach”. The statement claims “the so-called” level playing field rules, were a set of “novel and unbalanced proposals” which would bind the UK to EU laws or standards. They wrote that this was unprecedented and that it was “not envisaged in the Political Declaration”.
If you want to verify this please read thePolitical Declarationthat was agreed “line by line” with the British Prime Minister Boris Johnson in October last year. There is an entire section entitled, ‘Level Playing Field for Open and Fair Competition’, which states “the future relationship must ensure open and fair competition, encompassing robust commitments to ensure a level playing field.”
The rules are not novel – the UK, when a member of the EU, was a strong proponent of the very same rules, and given that UK will remain interconnected to the EU and wants a generous trade deal, it is also unsurprising that in the interest of balance the EU will require “robust” reassurances.
In Barnier’s press conference that took place later than scheduled Barnier replied to the UK statement, saying: “Despite its claims, the United Kingdom did not engage in a real discussion on the question of the level playing field – those economic and commercial “fair play” rules that we agreed to, with Boris Johnson.”
‘Zero tariffs, zero quotas, zero dumping’
The EU’s mantra from the outset of these negotiations has been ‘Zero tariffs, zero quotas, zero dumping’. The dumping refers to the level playing field provisions.
Senior British Minister Michael Gove suggested that he might be willing to renounce the objective of ‘zero tariffs, zero quotas’, in order to be freed from level playing field obligations.
Barnier said that an approach of negotiating each and every tariff line like in the Canadian and Japan agreements was not possible given the time constraints and that: “the EU would still demand the same strong Level Playing Field guarantees […] Open and fair competition is not a “nice-to-have”. It is a “must-have”.”
The UK repeatedly invokes Canada as a possible model for their future relationship with the EU. In its statement it brushed aside the current difficulties: “It is very clear that a standard Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement, with other key agreements on issues like law enforcement, civil nuclear, and aviation alongside, all in line with the Political Declaration, could be agreed without major difficulties in the time available.” However, it is clear from their requests that the UK wants a great deal more.
Barnier pointed out the mismatch between the UK’s exhortations of only wanting a “Canada-style” deal (CETA) and its actual requests for cooperation that goes well beyond the Canada agreement, including: freedom of movement of most service providers, a continuation of existing arrangements on electricity interconnection, to maintain the current system for the recognition of professional qualifications, co-decision in relation to equivalence decisions in the are of financial services, to name a few examples. It’s also interesting that the UK side thinks it can mis-explain the EU’s own trade agreements to the EU.
One of the conundrums of the British approach to Brexit negotiations under May and then Johnson premierships was their apparent ambivalence about services. While the UK may not export anything like the amount that the EU exports to the UK when it comes to goods, its trade in services is much more evenly balanced, but as this ONS graph shows the EU is by far and away the UK’s largest customer for services. The UK has made a point of saying that its market is of importance to the EU, something of which they are fully aware.
UK trade in services with Europe continued to drive trade growth in 2018
The UK is promising that it will publish its documents next week. The EU task force is anxious to share these texts with EU member states and the European Parliament, the EU side had already published its draft legal text almost two months ago.
The UK has rather belatedly woken up to the benefits of transparency stating: “In order to facilitate those discussions, we intend to make public all the UK draft legal texts during next week so that the EU’s Member States and interested observers can see our approach in detail.”
The European Parliament’s UK Coordination Group (UKCG) will no doubt be grateful for their publication; led by David McAllister MEP (DE, EPP) the UKCG will be coordinating responses drawing on the expertise of 17 parliamentary committees, covering everything from fisheries to civil rights. Their final report will be presented for a vote on 17 June, before the High-Level Conference between the EU and UK in mid-June, which will probably determine whether the UK will or will not request an extension.
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.
Chelsea’s hopes of pipping Manchester United to the signing of England international Jadon Sancho could be set to receive a massive boost.
The Sun on Sunday reports that Chelsea will receive a major cash-injection from Atletico Madrid this summer when the Spanish side complete a move for Alvaro Morata, who has been on loan there this season.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.”