MANCHESTER UNITED are hoping for a return to training on May 18 but Paul Pogba has surprisingly been encouraged to leave the club by Red Devils legend Rio Ferdinand.
Meanwhile Moussa Dembele is reportedly interested in a move to Old Trafford and Barcelona could throw a spanner in the works as United look to snap up Jadon Sancho.
Follow all the latest Old Trafford news and transfer gossip below…
LYON IN WAIT
Moussa Dembele would find it hard to reject a move to Man Utd, reports the Manchester Evening News.
The Red Devils are using data analytics to aid their summer transfer business and Dembele is one of the names that has come up.
While United have yet to get in contact with the Lyon striker, they view the 23-year-old as being the perfect age and the fact he would count as homegrown due to his time at Fulham also appeals.
Timo Werner and a permanent deal for Odion Ighalo are also being considered but the club will not be signing Harry Kane, the report adds.
Manchester United’s Andreas Pereira will land a dream move to Santos one day, the club’s president confirmed
The midfielder is expected to leave Old Trafford at the end of the season as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer plots a squad overhaul.
And according to club president Jose Carlos Peres, he has already been in contact with Pereira over WhatsApp.
Speaking to Gazeta Esportiva, he said: “I have Andreas Pereira on WhatsApp and I have been talking to him.
“He’s done well at Manchester United. He will certainly the wear the club’s [Santos] shirt one day.”
PLAYER POWER – EXCLUSIVE
Harry Kane, Jordan Henderson and Mark Noble have been inundated by calls from worried players over whether it is safe for football to return.
After Manchester City ace Sergio Aguero revealed he and many players are “scared” by amidst the coronavirus crisis, it emerged the English trio are top flight stars’ primary port of call.
PFA bosses have also received a spate of calls and messages from worried players.
Tottenham’s Kane, Liverpool’s Henderson and West Ham’s Noble, though, have emerged as figureheads for stars to contact with their concerns.
Man Utd’s Treble winners and Arsenal’s Invincibles are not as great as Leicester’s 2016 miracle men, according to Jamie Carragher.
I“Whenever that list is compiled, Leicester City’s 2016 title stands alone as the greatest achievement, certainly in the Premier League era.
“At a time when money talks at the top, and the top six have such a financial advantage over everyone else, Leicester’s win was such a shock and an anomaly I am not sure how it can be beaten.
“The achievement of Sir Alex Ferguson’s 1999 treble winners was unprecedented.
“Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal ‘Invincibles’ achieved what no club had managed since Preston North End in 1889, going unbeaten for an entire league season.
“But Leicester will remain as the greatest title winners.”
ONE TO FERG-ET
Ex-Man Utd goalkeeper Ben Foster remembers irate Sir Alex Ferguson “nailing” him after a howler in a dramatic win over Man City.
Foster, now with Watford, said: “I remember coming in at full-time and Ferguson nailed me.
“We’d just won the game, so everyone was buzzing. He shut everyone up to nail me. He said, ‘You pull this s**t ever again and that’s you f***ing done’.
“Thankfully he kept me in the team and I had a few more decent games — but then I dropped another clanger.”
“If you look at the number of my assists I gave in the game and sometimes I was in front of the goal and I squared it that would answer that question [about being obsessed].
“I would not have all those assists if I was only just thinking about the Golden Boot.”
Henry amassed 175 goals and 74 assists in 258 Prem games for Arsenal from 1997-2007 – that’s 0.68 strikes per match.
Ex-PSV Eindhoven paocher Van Nistelrooy netted 95 times and provided 13 assists in 150 Prem games for United from 2001-6 before joining Real Madrid – a match average of 0.63 goals.
VAN BOOT LOCKED
Thierry Henry insists Ruud van Nistelrooy was the only “obsessed” one in their famous, five-year Golden Boot battle – as the Arsenal legend gave up penalties to team-mates.
Van Nistelrooy‘s then-Manchester United team-mate Rio Ferdinand revealed the striker’s post-match mood often depended on whether he and/or Henry had scored.
Henry said: “It became a story between me and him because it was always him or me [for the Golden Boot].
“But I don’t know if you remember I used to give penalties away… I used to give penalties away!
“When Edu played his last game for Arsenal and I was battling with Ruud van Nistelrooy for the Golden Boot I gave him the penalty…
NO HOME GAMES
The Emirates, Etihad and London Stadium will be among “up to ten” neutral venues if the Government allows the Premier League to play out its season from June 12.
Prem chiefs were told during Friday’s video conference that clubs would have to give up “home” advantage – and of course that all 92 remaining matches would be behind closed doors.
It was agreed following a series of discussions and briefings that matches will be restricted to specific stadiums throughout the country – with clubs in effect sacrificing “home advantage”.
Clubs also accepted police advice that the chosen venues should, if possible, be away from congested urban areas.
But no club will be allowed to play in their own own home ground in a bid to equalise the unprecedented scenario. The clubs agreed to meet again next Friday, 24 hours after the next lockdown announcement.”
Manchester United are “not happy” with playing games behind closed doors as chief executive Ed Woodward admits he is uncertain whether the season can restart.
United chief executive Woodward revealed on a fans’ forum conference call that he is not a fan of games played in front of no crowd, but fears it may be the only option. He said: “No decisions have been made yet but we think it is possible that the initial games, particularly the ones related to finishing or trying to complete this season, will probably have to be played behind closed doors.
“We’re not necessarily happy about that – clearly football requires our fans in the stadium for it to be complete – but public health must come first and… this is down to the Government.
“It’s important to get back to playing football and complete this season once it’s safe to do so.”
IN THE RED
Manchester United players are taking legal advice over missed pay rises that would cost them up to a combined £50million if coronavirus KOs the season.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s squad were due to be awarded 25 per cent pay hikes if they qualified for the Champions League.
Should the season be cancelled and deemed void, players could be forced to go without as they currently sit in a qualification spot.
Man Utd currently sit fifth in the Premier League – but would qualify thanks to neighbours City’s two-year European ban.
BARC AND BITE?
Barcelona could be ready to chuck a spanner into Manchester United’s pursuit of Jadon Sancho.
According to SportBild, the Catalans are looking at the winger as a potential cheaper alternative to Neymar.
While United are still being quoted a whopping £100m for Sancho, Barca believe they can get him cheaper as they have youngster Ansu Fati – one of Dortmind’s top transfer targets.
Manchester United flop Alexis Sanchez shows he’s not letting the doubts about his future get him down with a Rocky Balboa-inspired training session during lockdown.
The striker, said to be one of a number of players Ole Gunnar Sokskjaer is trying to offload, filmed himself doing sprints in his spacious back garden to music from the Rocky IV soundtrack.
Gary Neville was summoned to the Manchester United office to act as peacemaker between Cristiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney after the famous World Cup wink.
The former United ace has spoken out about the time Rooney received his marching orders during a heated quarter-final tie with Portugal, which Ronaldo played a part in.
Neville, 45, said: “The first day back in pre-season after the 2006 World Cup I was called into the office with Wayne and Cristiano to sit down and see if there was a problem.
“It felt like the whole country was against him and it felt like a Beckham moment when he came back from the World Cup in 1998.
“Everyone rallied around him and it was the same with Ronaldo. He likes proving people wrong but they shook hands and there was no problem.
“Rooney knows on a football pitch anything goes, you’re just trying to win.”
Paul Ince has warned Jadon Sancho to consider if Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is the right man to turn him into a world star before he agrees to join Manchester United.
Sancho is top of the list of players United want to bring to Old Trafford this summer and they are willing to break the bank to seal a deal with Borussia Dortmund.
Ince said: “When it comes to transfers, it’s not just about the team, it’s about the manager.
“Let’s look at Raheem Sterling as an example, Pep Guardiola has turned him into a world class player through his coaching and guidance.
“Sometimes as a player, it’s about looking at a team’s manager and coaching staff and whether they’d take you to that next level. That’s a decision Sancho will need to make.
“We know that Pep is experienced in that area, we know he can improve a player. But can Ole Gunnar Solskjaer? We don’t know that, whatsoever.
“We have no clue what he’s like at developing a player of that magnitude.
“He’s clearly trying to develop a young team, so that will help, but in terms of actually the man to man management and development of someone like Sancho, he’s a total unknown.
“We’ve not seen any evidence yet that he can take a player to the next level.”
Thomas Partey’s representatives have had to apologise after a bizarre Instagram post appeared to ask fans to select the Ghanaian’s next club.
JJ Sports Management, who represent the Atletico Madrid midfielder, posted a picture of him above the line: “Pick his club”.
Beneath, five badges were featured – including Arsenal’s, Man Utd’s, as well Bayern Munich’s, Paris Saint-Germain’s and Juventus’.
Having swiftly deleted the post, the agency were forced to offer a grovelling apology.
Their statement read: “In view of the publication that was made today Wednesday 29 April 2020 on our Instagram account, regarding the future of our player Thomas Partey, from JJ Sport Managers we want to convey that this publication was not approved by the company management.
“An internal investigation has been opened to find out what exactly happened, we are sure that this has not been intentional on the part of any of our workers and it is probably an unfortunate mistake.
“The publication has been deleted as soon as we have become aware of its existence.
“In addition, the keys of all our social profiles have been modified to restrict access only to essential personnel.”
All 20 teams in Italy’s Serie A have voted to finish the 2019/20 season in full.
An emergency meeting was held today amid reports that Torino and Brescia wanted the campaign to be axed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
But it has now been revealed that every team in the league shares the belief that the season should be completed.
The top flight has been suspended since March, but players are preparing to return to training on May 18.
Italian sports minister Vincenzo Spadafora has warned this does not necessarily mean the season will resume.
He has also confirmed the league could axed unless an agreement is reached over the medical protocols that will be in place.
Man Utd are set to loan Dean Henderson out once again as the academy stopper is forced to bide his time at Old Trafford, according to reports.
The 23-year-old has impressed in his maiden Premier League campaign this season while being borrowed by Sheffield United.
Boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is believed to have considered bringing Henderson back to play second fiddle to David De Gea.
The England youth international, however, is not thought to be keen on the prospect of warming the bench.
While Henderson is not yet on the cusp of displacing De Gea, who signed a contract up to 2023 with the option for a further year, club chiefs ARE thought to see him as a viable candidate to eventually succeed the 29-year-old.
According to ESPN, United will prioritise securing another loan deal for their talented goalkeeper.
Gary Neville has suggested finishing the Premier League season abroad in a coronavirus-free country.
The English top-flight faces an entire season being played behind closed doors unless a vaccine is created.
Speaking on The Football Show, he said: “If the Premier League are really serious about delivering the matches that remain in a safe environment they would move it to two or three spots that are within three or four hours of this country that are coronavirus free.
“They would take the Premier League players, broadcasters and media over, quarantine for a week or two and then deliver it in an environment that has proven it can handle this virus.
“There are a couple of hotspots in Europe that haven’t got coronavirus which could handle the Premier League finishing.
“If they were serious about it and wanted to deliver it with a safe outcome, they could do that.
“In this country I’m not sure they can deliver it with the amount of coronavirus which is around, especially with the amount of movement of it out there and the logistic issues.
“I’m not sure they can deliver what they want to do.”
PAUL TO ONE SIDE
Man Utd are prepared to trigger an automatic extension option in Paul Pogba’s contract if the midfielder does not leave this summer.
Real Madrid and Juventus are circling with intent for the Frenchman but will reportedly have to fork out at least £83million to cut a deal.
With Pogba’s contract expiring in June 2021, there is talk of United losing their record signing for free at the end of next season as an agreement over a new deal appears unlikely.
However they do possess an automatic 12-month renewal on the player’s existing terms that Marca believe will be taken up if necessary.
The upcoming market is expected to be incredibly muted compared to recent years amid the coronavirus pandemic.
United are not expected to let up on their valuation of Pogba, Le10Sport naming a price of at least £83m while Real and Juve hope to start the bidding at £52m.
Marcus Rashford has led the way during the coronavirus pandemic by helping a charity supply two million meals a week for vulnerable children.
Supermarkets such as Asda, Tesco and Co-Op have thrown their weight behind FareShareUK after the Manchester United forward advocated the project.
Having relied on free school meals as a child, the England star took it upon himself to raise awareness of those in need during the country’s lockdown.
And Rashford has announced that two million meals are now being delivered every week – with his personal donation being doubled.
Charities such as FareShare, which distributes food to 11,000 different organisations across the UK, are even more vital with schools shut and they thanked the 22-year-old for his contribution.
They wrote: “We are blown away by your generosity Marcus Rashford.
“Your support is the reason we can keep helping people in need. We can’t thank you enough.”
Phil Neville revealed brother Gary blanked him when he returned to Old Trafford as an Everton player in 2005.
The former Toffees star branded him an “idiot” for playing up to the cameras when they went head-to-head for the first time.
He told MUTV: “It was one of the early games, and I went down the tunnel, and you just think he’s going to say hello. And he didn’t.
“Giggsy said hello, Scholesy said hello. I think Wes [Brown] was there and said hello.
“And then there’s a camera right in front of where the captains are and I thought, ‘typical Gary, he’s playing to the cameras, playing for show’.”
Premier League clubs are scrambling to buy face masks as stars return to training ahead of the proposed June 8 season-restart.
Top-flight stars have been ordered to cover their faces when they get back to work, with Arsenal and Tottenham already in training.
It is all part of the rules laid out in “Project Restart” with clubs determined to finish the season rather than cancel it, like France, Belgium and Holland.
And with all clubs keen to get a head-start on the competition, they’ve raced to purchase face masks for their players and staff.
Altitude Mask founder – and football agent – Saif Rubie told Sky Sports News: “In the last three days we have been inundated with requests, mainly from the Bundesliga and the Premier League.
“Our product has been sent out to six or seven Premier League clubs in the last couple of days.”
An alternative Premier League table has Arsenal finishing TWELFTH while Manchester United miss out on a top-four spot.
The Mail, working with Opta Sports using a method devised by L’Equipe for Ligue 1, have predicted how the final Premier League table will look if the season does not resume amid the coronavirus crisis.
Liverpool are clear winners with a record 109 points and a goal difference of 90, that’s a whole 30 points ahead of Man City, who themselves finish just two points above Leicester.
Chelsea nab the fourth Champions League spot ahead of Man Utd, who finish one point above both Wolves and Sheffield United.
Spurs take up eighth, with Crystal Palace and Burnley making up the rest of the top ten.
Surprisingly, Newcastle finish 11th and are two points ABOVE Arsenal, who end levy with Southampton.
HE’S OUR MAN
Man Utd are reportedly ready to throw their weight behind a bid for Jack Grealish despite tracking James Maddison for over a year.
Signing the England international from Leicester appears to be significantly harder than convincing Aston Villa to sell their star man – whether or not they stay up.
The Foxes have long been touted to demand upwards of £80million for Maddison, a fee they will probably refuse to budge on even after the coronavirus pandemic.
Whereas MEN report on United’s belief that they can snap up Grealish in a much cheaper deal having made their first approach in February.
Although the pair possess different characteristics, they occupy the same position on the field as central attacking midfielders with the ability to move out wide.
Statistically they are not too far apart either, with both scoring nine goals in 2019/20, but Grealish leads Maddison with eight assists to three.
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