Former Manchester United star Luis Nani shows off ripped physique in incredible body transformation


Former Manchester United star Luis Nani has shown off his ripped physique in an incredible body transformation, aged 33.

The Orlando City star has clearly been hitting the weights during lockdown, with the MLS season not set to return until July 8th.

But ahead of the condensed mini-tournament, Nani enjoyed a relaxing day off in Orlando, showing off his ridiculous six-pack.

The Portuguese star — who has also played for Sporting Lisbon, Valencia and Lazio during his career — left fans’ jaws on the floor on Monday evening.

Nani posted a picture of himself standing on a rock wearing just a pair of shorts.

As well as his rock-hard abs, the formerly slender Manchester United winger — who spent eight years at Old Trafford — flexed his arms to reveal his bulging biceps.

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Nani shared the snap on Instagram, captioned: “Day off vibes #MLSisBack #OrlandoCity #dayoff #relax”.

And supporters couldn’t get over the remarkable transformation.

Singer Nelson Freitas replied: “Give me some of those abs man.”

Former Portugal teammate Yannick Djalo said: “Pooowwww! The man with the most muscle since he was a kid and with the most ABS in the world.”

Another follower even joked: “Stomach looking photoshopped but it ain’t smh.”

Nani has just over a week to keep working on his new body before the MLS season returns at Disney World — conveniently for him, in Orlando.

The 2020 campaign is set to return with a 54-game tournament having got through just two rounds of fixtures before lockdown was enforced.

And now Disney World has been deemed the best location to keep players safe, despite it already being agreed the NBA would finish their season at the Florida resort.

All 26 teams from both the Eastern and Western Conference will descend on Orlando for the shortened competition.

This article originally appeared in The Sun and was reproduced with permission



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Newcastle outgun 10-man Sheffield United in an empty St James’ Park


Three second-half goals from Allan Saint-Maximin, Matt Ritchie and Joelinton helped Newcastle United secure a convincing 3-0 win over 10-man Sheffield United in the Premier League on Sunday.

The visitors did not create many opportunities at St James’ Park and were reduced to 10 men early in the second half when defender John Egan collected his second yellow card.

Joelinton scores for Newcastle United against Sheffield United at St James' Park on Sunday.

Joelinton scores for Newcastle United against Sheffield United at St James’ Park on Sunday.Credit:Getty Images

Egan, who was cautioned for clashing with Joelinton over an offside decision in the first half, brought down the Brazilian striker to receive his marching orders from referee David Coote.

Newcastle seized control of the contest in the 55th minute when Ritchie’s cross from the left wing found Saint-Maximin, whose low shot found the net.

Ritchie doubled Newcastle’s lead in the 69th minute with a swerving shot from the edge of the box, before Joelinton recorded only his second league goal of the campaign.

The game was played in an empty St James’ Park due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Reuters



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A-League to resume season with Melbourne Victory v Western United on July 16



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.

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.

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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 league had completed two games out of round 24 when the competition was halted on March 24 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

O’Rourke said the FFA would continue to work with Fox Sports on arrangements to broadcast the rest of the season.



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Geert Bourgeois (ECR): Pragmatism must prevail in the negotiations with the United Kingdom



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.”



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Decision day looms for United States on Hong Kong


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.

Pro-democracy protesters are arrested by police in Hong Kong on May 24. (Isaac Lawrence/AFP via Getty Images)

‘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.

Anti-government protesters set up roadblocks under umbrellas during a march against Beijing’s plans to impose national security legislation in Hong Kong on May 24, 2020. (Tyrone Siu/Reuters)

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. 

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.

Pan-democratic legislator Chu Hoi-dick scuffles with security during Legislative Council’s House Committee meeting, in Hong Kong. ( Tyrone Siu/Reuters)

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. 

Hong Kong’s last British governor, Chris Patten, sits with U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright during a June 30, 1997, banquet for the handover of the territory to China. (Reuters file)

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. 

Chinese President Xi Jinping arrives for a plenary session Monday of the National People’s Congress in Beijing, where new security laws for Hong Kong are under discussion. (Thomas Peter/Reuters)

“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.

Anti-government protesters demonstrated on New Year’s Day to call for better governance and democratic reforms in Hong Kong. (Tyrone Siu/Reuters)





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U.S. accuses Beijing of not allowing Delta, United to fly passengers to China – National


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.


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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.”






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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.

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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.


READ MORE:
Travel will never be the same, thanks to COVID-19

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.


READ MORE:
Coronavirus: Smaller Canadian airlines fear being left out of federal aid programs

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)

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Gun sales in United States highest since records began amid coronavirus – Channel 4 News


Is it a rush to get protection against an unknown enemy? Fear of social turmoil and the breakdown of civil authority?

Whatever the reason, Americans are buying guns like never before. New data collected by the FBI shows US gun sales in March were the highest since records began.

With gun stores described as essential businesses and staying open, sales in some states have increased almost threefold.



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Ending Premier League season would prevent Sheffield United achieving epic feat – Brian Reade


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.

Chris Wilder’s Sheffield United have a shot at earning a Champions League place – which would be a remarkable achievement

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.

Nuno Espirito Santo has again led his Wolves side right into the mix for European places

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.

Neil Warnock hailed ‘the tactical genius’ of Chris Wilder

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.

Sign up to the Mirror Football email here for the latest news and transfer gossip.





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#UK – ‘The United Kingdom will have to be more realistic; it will have to overcome its incomprehension’ Barnier


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 the Political Declaration that 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”.”

Canada

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.

Services

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

Transparency

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. 

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Transfer news LIVE: Chelsea gain advantage over Man United in Sancho race, Zaha to Newcastle, Neto to Arsenal



Welcome to the Evening Standard’s live blog covering the latest transfer news and rumours from the Premier League and Europe.

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…

Live Updates


ARSENAL NEWS


Arsenal eye Neto

Arsenal are interested in signing Barcelona goalkeeper Neto this summer, according to reports.

Photo: Getty Images

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.

Photo: Reuters

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.

Photo: AFP
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.

SPURS NEWS


Inter eye Ndombele

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 NEWS


Gunners tracking Barca stopper

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 NEWS


Blues to snub Boga buy-back

Chelsea are “not expected” to take up their option to buy back Jeremie Boga from Sassuolo this summer, according to The Express.
 

Photo: Getty

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.


Inter to hijack Meunier, Mertens deals

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


Juve legend tells club to get Pogba back

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 NEWS


Lampard keen on Giroud, Willian deals

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.
 

Photo: AFP

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.

Photo: Getty

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.

Read the full report on his career, playing style and chances of signing here.

EUROPEAN NEWS


Scouting report | Jean-Clair Todibo (Schalke)

Photo: Getty

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.

Read the full report here. 

LIVERPOOL NEWS


Scouting report | Timo Werner (RB Leipzig)

Photo: Getty
“Should he continue to play like this in the coming weeks… it will surely leave Liverpool with little choice but to sign him.”

David Lynch watched the Germany international in action as RB Leipzig were held to a 1-1 draw against Freiburg.

Read the full report on the Liverpool target here.

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.

Photo: Getty

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.

Read the full Scout report here
 

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. 

Photo: Getty

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.”

ARSENAL NEWS


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. 

Photo: Getty

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.”

EUROPEAN NEWS


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. 

Photo: Getty

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. 

Via Borussia Dortmund’s Twitter

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. 

Photo: Getty

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.

Photo: Getty

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.

CHELSEA NEWS


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.

Photo: Getty

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.



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