Jadon Sancho, Kai Havertz: Borussia Dortmund, Bayer Leverkusen stand firm on £100m+ asking prices

Borussia Dortmund and Bayer Leverkusen intend to stand firm on their £100m+ valuations of Jadon Sancho and Kai Havertz despite the financial impact of coronavirus on German football.

The two Bundesliga clubs – among the richest in the country – are not expecting to be under increased pressure to generate income through player sales, despite lost gate receipts due to the suspension of all competitions.

  • Explained: How coronavirus could affect transfers
  • Transfer Centre LIVE!
  • Analysis: What next for Jadon Sancho?

Both were recently among four clubs who contributed to an £18m solidarity fund to help struggling rivals in the top flight and second tier, and Leverkusen did so despite owners Bayer – the pharmaceutical company – seeing more than 20 per cent wiped off its share-price during March.

That lack of financial pressure could change, however, if the German Football League (DFL) is not resumed by mid-May – currently the country’s provisional date for a return to matches, albeit behind closed doors.

There are growing fears in Germany over the future of several Bundesliga clubs and most in the second division should football stay on hold into the summer months, in part due to the restrictions on private investment because of the league’s ’50+1′ rule.

Concerns are being raised that clubs could be forced into a fire-sale of their best talent to other countries – namely the Premier League – to generate cash when the transfer window opens in June, and this has ramped up discussions over potentially scrapping the 50+1 rule.

A number of sources in the country have suggested transfer fees could be slashed by as much as 50 per cent, but this is not expected to impact the valuations of the very top-level players such as Sancho and Havertz, whose market remains the very top clubs in Europe.

Dortmund and Leverkusen are even said to be willing to wait until 2021 to sell those players, when both will have only one year left on their contracts.

It also remains to be seen how significant the financial impact of the virus will be on the likes of Manchester United and Chelsea, who have been linked with both players, with just as much uncertainty over the resumption of British football by June.

The window is scheduled to open on June 10 and Sky Sports News has been told that clubs are continuing to work on the basis that this will be the case, but an internal FIFA document presented to its coronavirus working group last week recommended allowing transfer window dates to be shifted in accordance with changes to the football calendar.

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Serie B goalkeeper says players cannot give up wages like Ronaldo

‘We are not like Ronaldo, if we lose our wages the landlord will be knocking’: Serie B keeper says not all footballers can financially back the fight against coronavirus despite calls for them to give up their wages

  • Alberto Paleari says not all footballers can give up wages like Cristiano Ronaldo 
  • The coronavirus pandemic has put several Italian clubs under financial pressure
  • The goalkeeper claimed some would struggle to pay their rent with a salary cut
  • Ronaldo and his agent Jorge Mendes have donated over £1m of their own money 
  • Coronavirus symptoms: what are they and should you see a doctor?

Serie B goalkeeper Alberto Paleari says footballers cannot be expected to give up their wages like Cristiano Ronaldo because he will not struggle financially.

Italy has now suffered the most deaths from the global coronavirus pandemic and the indefinite suspension of sport in the country means several clubs are set to lose a huge proportion of revenue.

Juventus star Ronaldo and his agent Jorge Mendes have donated over £1million to intensive care units in his home of Portugal.

Cristiano Ronaldo and his agent Jorge Mendes have donated over £1m of their own money

The Serie B goalkeeper Alberto Paleari says not all footballers can afford to give up their wages

Some players may have to take a wage cut or even waive their salaries in the short-term to help their clubs avoid going under during the pandemic.

Roma’s players and staff agreed to give up a day’s pay which was donated to hospitals to provide beds and ventilators for those affected by Covid-19.

But Paleari, who plays for Cittadella, has said people need to realise that not all footballers are in a position to lose a significant proportion of the money they earn.

‘If it was a question of delaying wages for a month and receiving a double payment at a later date, I would say yes without any hesitation,’ Paleari told Telechiara programme Strictly Cittadella.

‘But if it were a question of spreading my wages out for longer then in all honesty I would have to say no.

‘We are not like Ronaldo. If they take away two months of his wages then he would certainly not go into financial difficulty.

‘If they take the same away from us, our landlord will come and knock on our doors looking for the rent.

‘You can’t judge everyone with the same view, it’s two different situations.’ 

The 27-year-old claimed some would struggle to pay their rent unlike the Portuguese player

The Juventus star’s money will finance three intensive care units in his homeland of Portugal

HOW CORONAVIRUS HAS HIT THE WORLD OF SPORT SO FAR

2020 OLYMPIC GAMES  

The 2020 Olympic Games has been postponed until 2021 on March 24 – becoming one of the last major sporting events this summer to fall victim to the coronavirus.

Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe held a crucial conference call with Olympics chief Thomas Bach on Tuesday to formally decide a plan and they have chosen to postpone for 12 months.

The decision also means the Tokyo Paralympic Games will be subject to a one-year delay.

Despite the delay, the name of the delayed Games will still be Tokyo 2020, the city’s governor Yuriko Koike revealed.

A joint statement from the IOC and Tokyo 2020 organising committee read: ‘In the present circumstances and based on the information provided by the WHO today, the IOC President and the Prime Minister of Japan have concluded that the Games of the XXXII Olympiad in Tokyo must be rescheduled to a date beyond 2020 but not later than summer 2021, to safeguard the health of the athletes, everybody involved in the Olympic Games and the international community.

‘The leaders agreed that the Olympic Games in Tokyo could stand as a beacon of hope to the world during these troubled times and that the Olympic flame could become the light at the end of the tunnel in which the world finds itself at present. 

‘Therefore, it was agreed that the Olympic flame will stay in Japan. It was also agreed that the Games will keep the name Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020.’ 

There was plenty of scepticism whether the Olympics would pull through and continue as scheduled while events linked to the games were called off. The Olympic torch relay in Greece was cancelled on Friday March 13 – just a day after the flame was lit in Olympia.

Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games have been postponed by one year due to the coronavirus

Large crowds mobbed Hollywood actor Gerard Butler as he lit the cauldron in the Greek city of Sparta despite repeated warnings for spectators not to attend because of coronavirus.

That forced the decision by the Greek Olympic Committee to halt the torch relay on Greek soil on just the second day of its scheduled eight-day journey. It is the only the third time that a relay to Athens for the summer Games has not been completed.

The Olympic flame will still be handed over to the Tokyo 2020 organising committee at the Panathenaic Stadium in Athens on Thursday March 19, but without fans present. 

Athletes were told to keep training but many struggled considering the government lock-down measures put in place. 

On Friday March 13 US president Donald Trump’s suggestion to postpone the Tokyo Olympics for a year because of the coronavirus was immediately shot down by Japan’s Olympic minister.

‘The IOC and the organising committee are not considering cancellation or a postponement – absolutely not at all,’ Seiko Hashimoto, an Olympic bronze medalist, told a news conference in Tokyo.

On Tuesday March 17, Kozo Tashima, one of the Japanese Olympic Committee’s vice presidents and president of the Japanese Football Association, tested positive for coronavirus.  

The International Olympic Committee and Tokyo organisers have stayed on message since the viral outbreak in China three months ago spread across Asia and then the globe: The games will open as scheduled on July 24. 

Tokyo 2020 organisers received the Olympic flame in a scaled-down handover ceremony in the Greek capital on March 19. 

ATHLETICS 

The World Athletics Indoor Championships, which was due to be held from March 13-15 in Nanjing, is postponed until March 2021.

The World Athletics Indoor Championships in Nanjing, China, has been postponed due to concerns over the danger of the coronavirus and its ability to spread

North Korea cancelled the Pyongyang Marathon scheduled for April after imposing a border lockdown due to the level of outbreak in South Korea, where the Seoul Marathon is cancelled in a bid to protect runners.

The Paris half-marathon is cancelled and the French government also decided to ban all public gatherings of more than 100 people, before ordering people to stay at home from March 15 for at least 15 days. The race involving some 44,000 competitors was scheduled for Sunday March 1. Organisers said the race will be postponed to a date yet to be determined.

The London Marathon, which had been scheduled to take place on April 26, has been postponed until October 4. Over 40,000 runners were due to take part. 

The Barcelona marathon scheduled for March 15 has been postponed until October.

BOXING 

Olympic boxing qualifiers to be staged in Wuhan were cancelled by the International Olympic Committee, but went ahead in Amman from March 3-11.

The IBF title fight between Daniele Scardina and Andrew Francillette in Milan on February 28 was postponed by Matchroom due to restrictions in Italy following the outbreak.

The Japanese boxing commission cancelled all fight cards scheduled for March on government advice to suspend all pending sporting fixtures. They will not be rescheduled.

Daniel Dubois and Joe Joyce’s Battle of Britain has been pushed back from April to July

The British Boxing Board of Control announced on Tuesday March 17 that all boxing events under their jurisdiction for March will be postponed due to the coronavirus.

That decision has lead to the heavyweight clash between Daniel Dubois and Joe Joyce being postponed. That fight, which had been penciled in for April 11, has been rescheduled for July 11 at the O2 Arena. 

Matchroom Boxing has also postponed all events scheduled for March and April, including Josh Kelly’s European title fight against Russia’s David Avanesyan (scheduled for March 28). 

The European Olympic boxing qualification tournament in London has been suspended. It was due to secure qualification for Tokyo 2020 for 77 male and female boxers, with 322 taking part. 

Matchroom Boxing chief Eddie Hearn has said Anthony Joshua’s heavyweight title defence against Kubrat Pulev, which is scheduled for June 20, could be rearranged for July. All Matchroom promoted fights in March and April have been postponed. 

Canelo Alvarez vs Billy Joe Saunders, earmarked for May in Las Vegas, was postponed before even being announced, however the Mexican is reportedly still planning to make the bout happen in June. 

CRICKET 

England’s tour of Sri Lanka was postponed on March 13, with the England and Wales Cricket Board citing ‘completely unprecedented times’.

The decision was confirmed while Joe Root’s side were in the field at Colombo’s P Sara Oval, contesting a warm-up game for a two-Test series.

On March 18, the West Indies offered to host England’s upcoming home Tests against them in the Caribbean instead of in the UK – should the coronavirus outbreak not have improved by then. England are due to face the Windies in a a three-Test series, which is due to start at the Oval on June 4 but could be delayed until September. If playing the series in England proves unworkable, CWI have offered to step in for this series, and also for England’s three Tests against Pakistan, due to start on July 30. Although there are Covid-19 cases in the Caribbean, its impact there has been limited so far. 

The start of the Indian Premier League season has also been delayed until April 15. The 2020 campaign had been set to start on March 29. The IPL franchises are also ready to quarantine their foreign players for a period of 14 days, if travel restrictions are lifted to allow them to arrive.

On March 13, India’s ongoing one-day international series against South Africa was postponed, while Australia’s one-day internationals against New Zealand will be played behind closed doors.

Scotland’s one-day series against the United States and UAE have been postponed. The games were scheduled to be played in Florida in April. 

England’s cricketers would not play any rescheduled Test series against West Indies in the Caribbean until December at the earliest, it emerged on March 19.

CYCLING 

Cycling’s Giro d’Italia has been called off, with the race scheduled to start in Hungary in May. 

The final two stages of the UAE Tour were cancelled after two members of staff on the race were suspected of having the disease. 

Danish cyclist Michael Morkov was tested for coronavirus after being put in isolation

The Tour de France is under threat of cancellation, with the scheduled start in Nice taking place in just over three months, on June 27. With British and French governments anticipating that the pandemic will last until the summer, race organizers are studying alternative scheduling. 

The Paris-Roubaix cycling race, another major event on the French sports calendar, was postponed due to the pandemic, while the April 5 Tour of Flanders, only previously cancelled during World War I, was also postponed in a further sign that Le Tour is under grave threat.

FOOTBALL 

This summer’s Euro 2020 tournament has been moved to next summer (2021) following a UEFA conference held on March 17. The postponement provides a chance for European club competitions to be completed.

All football in England is suspended until at least April 30 – but the 2019-20 season should eventually be completed after the FA bend their own rules to extend the campaign INDEFINITELY after holding crisis talks on March 19.

The decisions to suspend follows players and staff becoming affected by the virus, or individuals self-isolating as a precaution after reporting symptoms consistent with Covid-19.

The Premier League has moved to cancel games following the global outbreak of coronavius

The Premier League clash between Manchester City and Arsenal, scheduled for March 11, had already been postponed as a ‘precautionary measure’ after Olympiacos and Nottingham Forest owner Evangelos Marinakis tested positive for coronavirus weeks after watching his Greek team play at the Emirates Stadium. 

On March 13, UEFA announced all Champions League and Europa League fixtures scheduled are postponed, as well as the quarter-final draws for both competitions. UEFA hope to conclude the competitions in the summer but no dates are yet set. 

All Chinese domestic fixtures at all levels were postponed and the season pushed back, the first football to be affected by the outbreak in the country of its origin. However, reports suggest that the league could resume on April 18 as China gets to grip with the virus.

Asian Champions League matches involving Guangzhou Evergrande, Shanghai Shenhua and Shanghai SIPG are postponed until April.

The start of the Korean K-League season is postponed. The four teams in the AFC Champions League are playing their matches behind closed doors.

Japan’s J-League postponed all domestic games until the middle of March, but further delays are inevitable. 

Ludogorets players were taking no chances after the coronavirus outbreak in Italy

Italy, the country worst hit by the virus outside China, suffered a spate of cancellations before the government put the population on lockdown. All sport, including Serie A games, were suspended until at least April 3 to contain the virus.

In France, it was announced on Friday 13 March that there will be no top-flight football in France for the immediate future after their governing body postponed all matches.  

In Spain, April 18’s Copa del Rey final between between Athletic Bilbao and Real Sociedad has been postponed. LaLiga is also postponed until the end of March at least.

Germany’s Bundesliga, the other major European league, is also suspended until April 3 at least. 

The Dutch Eredivisie and Portugal’s Primeira Liga are also suspended.

The Football Association of Ireland announced that all football under its jurisdiction will cease until March 29. 

Major League Soccer has been suspended for 30 days until mid-April with David Beckham’s first Inter Miami home game delayed.  

The South American Football Confederation postponed this year’s Copa America, due to take place from 12 June to 12 July, until 2021.

FIFA said that the newly-expanded Club World Cup, originally scheduled to take place in China in June 2021, will be postponed and a new date announced when ‘there is more clarity on the situation’.

On March 13, the FA announced that all of England’s games scheduled for the month would be postponed, including those of development teams. It means that England’s friendlies with Italy and Denmark have been called off.    

Euro 2020 play-off matches due to be held on March 26, including Scotland v Israel have been put off until June. 

Olympiakos’ owner Evangelos Marinakis has tested positive for the coronavirus

Manchester United clash at Austrian side Lask was behind closed doors, with United handing out £350 to each fan to help with travel and accommodation after they sold 900 tickets for the Europa League game. 

Newcastle United banned their players from shaking hands with each other amid coronavirus fears. 

Cristiano Ronaldo went into isolation in Madeira after it emerged that his Juventus team-mate, Daniele Rugani, has coronavirus. Squad members Blaise Matuidi and Paolo Dybala also tested positive. 

Elsewhere in Italy, Fiorentina striker Patrick Cutrone, who is on loan from Wolverhampton Wanderers, tested positive for coronavirus.

In Spain, 35% of Valencia’s squad staff tested positive for coronavirus, with all cases being asymptomatic. 

Real Madrid’s first-team squad were in quarantine after a member of the basketball team tested positive for Covid-19. The two teams share the same training facility.   

Liverpool have announced a charity match between a Reds Legends side and Barcelona Legends, due to be played at Anfield on March 28, has been postponed.

FIFA says it will postpone South American World Cup qualifying matches due to take place in March. 

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta tested positive for coronavirus on March 12 with the entire first-team squad being put into isolation. The Gunners’ game against Brighton, scheduled for Saturday March 14, has been postponed.

In the early hours of Friday, March 13, Chelsea announced that winger Callum Hudson-Odoi had been diagnosed with the illness.

The club’s first team went into self-isolation, while two buildings at their training ground in Cobham were closed. 

Premier League clubs, including Manchester United and Manchester City, have sent players home to train alone following the British government’s increasing crackdown on mass gatherings and unnecessary social contact.   

West Ham chief Karren Brady called for the season to be null and void while Aston Villa believe no team should be relegated. In this situation Liverpool, the runaway league leaders, could face the horror of being denied the title despite being on the brink of securing their first league trophy in nearly 30 years.

Reports suggest football bodies across England and the rest of Europe are bracing themselves for a reported total shutdown of every league until September.

Top-level English and Scottish football was initially suspended until April 3 at the earliest. The Football Association, the Premier League, the English Football League, FA Women’s Super League and FA Women’s Championship all agreed to call a halt to competitive action with immediate effect. 

FORMULA ONE 

The season-opening Australian Grand Prix was called off after a McLaren team member came down with Covid-19, leading to the British team pulling out prior to a decision being made on whether the race would still go ahead. 

The announcement came hours after Lewis Hamilton said it was ‘shocking’ that the race was going ahead. 

The Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai on April 19 was the first race to be postponed, with no decision over whether it will be reinserted into the 2020 calendar for later in the season. 

The Bahrain Grand Prix, scheduled for March 20-22, is also called off, as is the inaugural Vietnam Grand Prix, which was scheduled to take place in Hanoi on April 5. 

It was hoped that the Dutch Grand Prix on May 3 would be the first race of the new season but that has also been postponed due to Covid-19. 

The iconic Monaco Grand Prix on May 24 was cancelled for the first time in 66 years before Formula One announced their race in Azerbaijan had been postponed. 

The Chinese GP was first to be cancelled and other races could yet follow that lead

GOLF 

On March 13, the Masters was postponed. In a statement released online, Fred Ridley, Chairman of Augusta National Golf Club, emphasised that the decision makers hope to hold the championship ‘at some later date’. The first men’s major of the year was due to begin on April 9.

The US PGA Championship, the second major of the year, has now joined the  Masters in being postponed. It had been due to take place at TPC Harding Park in San Francisco from May 11-17, but has been rescheduled for later this summer.

After deciding to play with no spectators from the second round of the Players Championship onwards, the PGA Tour cancelled the event entirely after the first round on March 12. 

They also scrapped the following three events leading up to the Masters, but after that was cancelled four further events in April and May – the RBC Heritage, the Zurich Classic of New Orleans, the Wells Fargo Championship and the AT&T Byron Nelson – also bit the dust. It is hoped that the season can be resumed in late May.

The European Tour have cancelled all tournaments until the popular Made in Denmark event on May 21. Many of them were due to be held in China or east Asia in countries badly hit by the outbreak.

The women’s game has also been hit by postponements and cancellations, with the year’s first major, the ANA Inspiration, the highest profile casualty.

The Masters has been postponed for the first time since the Second World War

Lorenzo Gagli and Edoardo Molinari were withdrawn from the Oman Open on medical grounds after Gagli showed symptoms of the virus. He shared a hotel room with Molinari and he was told to self-isolate. They were later reinstated to the tournament after testing negative for the virus. 

HORSE RACING 

The Grand National was called off following new British government restrictions to fight the spread of coronavirus made it impossible to stage the Aintree showpiece on April 4. The Cheltenham Festival went ahead amid some criticism before the social distancing measures were tightened. 

The Japan Racing Association revealed that ‘government-sanctioned races’ will go ahead behind closed doors.  

Racing in Ireland is to take place behind closed doors starting until March 29.  

The Dubai World Cup meeting will go ahead on March 28 ‘without paid hospitality spectators’. 

The Cheltenham Festival went ahead despite travel disruption caused by the virus

RUGBY 

This year’s Six Nations will have to wait for its conclusion with all remaining games postponed.

England’s game with Italy and Ireland’s trip to France had already been called off with Wales and Scotland leaving it until the day before before calling off their game. 

Saturday, 31 October is a possible date for the final weekend of matches. 

The Women’s Six Nations has also been hit by postponements.

Ireland’s Six Nations encounter with Italy on March 7 has been postponed

The RFU has suspended all levels of rugby in England until April 14, with the announcement coming shortly after the Premiership was halted for five weeks. 

The quarter-finals of the European Champions Cup and Challenge Cup have also been postponed. Those games were scheduled for April 3, 4 and 5.   

The RFL and rugby league’s Super League have now followed suit and postponed all fixtures for at least three weeks. Eight Leeds Rhinos players had been confirmed to be self-isolating.  

TENNIS

The French Open, one of the four Grand Slam tournaments, is postponed until September amid a wide lockdown in France.

The clay-court major was scheduled for May 24 to June 7, but that has shifted to September 20 to October 4, after the US Open, which was due to be the final major of the year. 

Players have been quick to criticise the move, which has created a conflict with the Laver Cup men’s team event spearheaded by Roger Federer, and a women’s tournament in China.

All events on the ATP Tour have been suspended for six weeks. 

The BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells in California, set to start on March 9, was postponed at the eleventh hour.  It came after a confirmed case of the coronavirus in the nearby Coachella Valley.

The final of an ATP Challenger event in Bergamo, Italy, between Enzo Couacaud and Illya Marchenko of Ukraine was cancelled. Both players received ranking points and prize money for getting to the final. They were denied the opportunity to play behind closed doors.

China forfeited a Davis Cup tie because the men’s team were unable to travel to Romania for the March 6-7 play-off.

WTA events have also been cancelled. The WTA announced they are assessing their schedule with a number of events set for China in the second half of the season.

The International Tennis Federation has announced that the Fed Cup finals have been postponed. The event was due to be held in Budapest in April and the competition’s play-offs, which were set to take place in eight different locations, have also been placed on hold.

The WTA also announced no tournaments will be staged for at least five weeks.   

OTHER SPORTS 

The NBA has been suspended indefinitely after two Utah Jazz players contracted the virus. On March 17 Brooklyn Nets star Kevin Durant confirmed he had tested positive for the virus alongside three unnamed team-mates.

In an aid to decrease risks of exposure to the virus, the NBA had told players to avoid taking items such as pens, markers, balls and jerseys from autograph seekers. 

The NHL has announced it has paused the 2019-20 season with no date confirmed for when it will resume. 

The UFC has cancelled its next three events, although president Dana White is still pushing ahead for the highly-anticipated lightweight title fight between Khabib Nurmagomedov and Tony Ferguson. 

MotoGP have cancelled their first two races of the season in Qatar and Thailand. 

South Korea’s baseball league cancelled all 50 pre-season game which were slated to take place from March 14-24. It is the first time since the leagues inception in 1982 that an entire set of exhibition matches are off. 

The first-stage draw for the Table Tennis World Championships, scheduled for South Korea from March 22-29, is postponed.

A beach volleyball tournament, due to be held in Yangzhou from April 22-26, is postponed until after the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

World Short track speed skating championship in Seoul is cancelled.

The World Triathlon Series event in Abu Dhabi was postponed as a precautionary measure.  

The Women’s World Ice Hockey Championships in Canada have been cancelled.   

All 72 pre-season baseball games in Japan are to take place behind closed doors

In badminton, the German Open (March 3-8), Vietnam Open (March 24-29) and Polish Open (March 26-29), all Olympic qualifying events, are cancelled due to ‘strict health protection’. 

The Japanese professional baseball league made the decision to play their 72 pre-season games behind closed doors until March 15. Baseball is among the most popular sports in Japan.  

Doubts remain as the Asian weightlifting championships, scheduled for March, are relocated from Kazakhstan to neighbouring Uzbekistan. They could still be postponed. 





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Barcelona news LIVE: Inter Milan to accept player-plus-cash transfer, Liverpool interest

Barcelona news LIVE updates and gossip from the Nou Camp

Thursday, March 26

  • Inter Milan will accept part-exchange deal for striker Lautaro Martinez
  • Liverpool could land Valencia wonderkid Ferran Torres on a free transfer
  • Barcelona are interested in Tottenham midfielder Tanguy Ndombele
  • Defender Dayot Upamecano has decided to leave RB Leipzig

Lautaro Martinez latest

Inter Milan have made a decision over the future of Lautaro Martinez.

That’s according to Spanish newspaper Sport, who claim Antonio Conte’s side will accept part-exchange deal for striker.

Barcelona are desperate to bring the Argentine centre-forward to the Nou Camp to partner compatriot Lionel Messi but are unable to pay his £100million release clause.

The Spanish champions are therefore looking to offer multiple players in exchange to drive the price down with Arturo Vidal, Arthur Melo, Jean-Clair Todibo, Carles Alena and Nelson Semedo all available.

READ MORE

  • Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp ‘could leave to join Real Madrid or Barca’

Ferran Torres free transfer

Liverpool could land Valencia wonderkid Ferran Torres on a free transfer if they are prepared to wait a year to sign him.

Corriere dello Sport claim Liverpool have now joined Barcelona in the race for Torres.

His current contract runs until next summer and it contains a release clause of £91million.

Valencia have already made strides to try and extend his stay with an improved contract offer, but Torres seems set on leaving.

Staying put cannot be ruled out given his assurances of regular football but it’s now looking increasingly likely that he will be leaving the club.

That could force Valencia to cash in as they face the prospect of losing him on a free transfer further down the line.

READ MORE

  • Barcelona plotting shock transfer move for Tottenham star Ndombele

Tanguy Ndombele to Barcelona

Barcelona are prepared to reactivate their interest in Tottenham midfielder Tanguy Ndombele.

That’s according to Spanish publication Mundo Deportivo, who claim Ndombele is one of two versatile midfielders Catalan chiefs are considering this summer along with Napoli’s Fabian Ruiz.

The Spanish champions were eager to sign Ndombele last summer but Spurs won the race when paying Lyon £55million plus a further £9million in add-ons for his services.

But things haven’t gone smoothly for six-capped France international with manager Jose Mourinho publicly digging him out for his display during a draw with Burnley.

Mundo Deportivo claim Ndombele would ‘contemplate a change of scenery’ and Barcelona chiefs are interested.

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Sheffield United spark final battle of long-running ownership feud

Sheffield United spark final battle of long-running feud between Prince Abdullah and Kevin McCabe as club issue legal threat to long-serving chairman over minor copyright issue

  • Prince Abdullah seized control of Sheffield United from Kevin McCabe  
  • Pair have long-running feud and and final battle is over copyright infringement
  • Legal letter was sent to McCabe about club crest on a sign for his company 

Sheffield United sparked the final skirmish of the club’s bitter power struggle this week by issuing a legal threat about a minor copyright infringement.

Blades chief executive Stephen Bettis signed a letter on Monday ordering a crest to be removed from fencing around an empty plot of land near Bramall Lane. The following day, a lone workman set out from Manchester with pots of paint to obliterate the offending image.

It is the latest clash in the long-running ownership dispute which has seen Prince Abdullah seize control of the club from long-serving chairman Kevin McCabe.

Kevin McCabe (left) and Prince Abdullah, pictured in 2013, were in a bitter power struggle

The Saudi prince won a High Court case last year to acquire McCabe’s 50 per cent stake in the club, newly promoted to the top flight, for just £5million.

As part of the ruling, he must also pay the market value for a package of properties, including the stadium and the training ground, from McCabe by July.

At the request of the prince, the two parties met in London in January and agreed a settlement which would avoid arbitration.

Prince Abdullah won a High Court case in September to take full ownership of Sheffield United

There was to be a downpayment by the end of March but the Prince has since withdrawn from the deal, meaning the two sides are once again locked on a course for another court date.

Statements were released on Wednesday by both McCabe’s company Scarborough International and the club.

Sheffield United accused its former chairman of trying to force the club out of Bramall Lane, its home since 1889, by increasing the price based on the residential value of the site.

The club sent a letter to former chairman McCabe over using the club crest  

Earlier in the week they had sent the legal letter to McCabe about a club crest which appeared on a sign for his company, Sheffield United Ltd, the former parent company and at one time sole owners of the Blades.

It had been displayed for months on the hoardings around a vacant plot of land near the ground known as Boundary Corner and has now been painted out.

The plot is one of two owned by McCabe which are inside the Bramall Lane site and earmarked for residential development and are not part of the package which Prince Abdullah is obliged to buy as part of the High Court ruling.




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Bayern Munich players waive 20 per cent of wages in support of club staff

Bayern Munich’s players have opted to waive 20 per cent of their salaries in response to football’s ongoing suspension.

Sky in Germany reports that the entire squad will accept reduced wages for the foreseeable future to help support other club staff while the coronavirus pandemic continues.

  • Transfer Centre LIVE!
  • ‘European leagues plan on mid-May restart’

Some of Bayern’s high-profile players have already announced their own responses to the health crisis, Robert Lewandowski revealing at the weekend he and his wife have donated 1m euros to the fight against the disease.

Joshua Kimmich and Leon Goretzka, meanwhile, have started a fund called We Kick Corona, each contributing 500,000 euros of their own money.

The fund, which has already reached 2.5m euros, will be made available to charities and social institutions.

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Timo Werner future undecided, says RB Leipzig sporting director

Timo Werner’s future has not yet been decided, says RB Leipzig’s sporting director, despite strong speculation linking him with a move to Liverpool.

The German striker is reportedly a key transfer target for Jurgen Klopp, having scored 27 goals in 36 games this season.

  • Werner: Liverpool move would suit me
  • Werner unsure over PL move
  • Transfer Centre LIVE!

Werner admitted he would be attracted to a move to Anfield last month, when he told Sky in Germany: “You have the best coach in the world there in Jurgen Klopp, a German. There is a lot to suggest that my style of play would fit in well there.”

The 24-year-old has also been linked with Chelsea and Barcelona, but in an interview with German television channel Sport1, Leipzig sporting director Markus Krosche said his future is up in the air.

“Anything is possible,” explained Krosche. “We don’t know how the transfer market will develop.

“We’re looking into a very foggy crystal ball. We don’t know what our resources will be like and what options the other clubs have.”

While Krosche is unsure if Werner will leave Leipzig at the end of the season, he did admit the Germany international is interesting other clubs.

“It’s clear that Timo has attracted other clubs with his great performances, and his goals and assists,” he said.

Krosche also explained how the coronavirus pandemic, which has suspended leagues across Europe, is already impacting upon clubs’ transfer plans for the end of the season.

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Emerson told to QUIT Chelsea by Italy boss Roberto Mancini

Chelsea defender Emerson Palmieri told to QUIT Stamford Bridge by Italy boss Roberto Mancini after being axed by Frank Lampard

  • Chelsea star Emerson has been urged to move to Serie A by Roberto Mancini 
  • The full back has struggled for game time under Frank Lampard this season 
  • And the Italy boss wants Emerson to stake a claim for Italy’s Euros squads
  • The 25-year-old has struggled to hold a starting role since joining from Roma 

Out-of-favour Chelsea defender Emerson has been urged to return to Serie A and stake a claim for Italy’s European Championship squad by national boss Roberto Mancini.

The 25-year-old has largely struggled to feature under Frank Lampard this season and has endured a frustrating spell since joining from Roma in January 2018.

And Emerson may now seek a move away to ensure a spot at the next international tournament, with Mancini appealing to the full-back to secure a switch back to his homeland. 

Italy boss Roberto Mancini has urged out of favour Chelsea star Emerson to return to Serie A

With the showpiece postponed for a year due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Mancini has now been afforded more time to consider his squad – and Emerson will have to battle it out with a host of other defenders to make the final cut.

‘As for the full-backs, we knew Adam Masina, although he disappeared from the radar a bit after his move to Watford,’ Mancini told Gazzetta dello Sport.

‘Luca Pellegrini already spent time with the senior squad and can improve.

‘It would be nice if Emerson Palmieri, who hasn’t played much for Chelsea, could come and play in Italy.’

Mancini has appealed to Emerson to return to Italy and stake a claim for their Euros squad

And Emerson’s future in west London appears even more uncertain amid rumours that Chelsea are targeting Leicester full back Ben Chilwell in the summer, with Marcos Alonso also primarily being first-choice this campaign.

But both Juventus and Inter Milan are said to be interested in snapping up the Brazilian-born star, with Maurizio Sarri and Antonio Conte interested in re-signing the player they had managed in England.

Emerson’s agent Luis Fernando Garcia recently told Juvenews: ‘We know very well about Juventus’ interest but also about Inter. So far there has been no talk of a transfer with Chelsea, nor has there been any official offer.

‘I believe that until May there will be no official offers from the two clubs. In the summer we will decide what to do.’ 




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Michael Owen joins Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp in Atletico criticism

‘Please spare me the inevitable Simeone masterclass nonsense’: Michael Owen joins Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp in Atletico Madrid criticism as he insists Reds ‘pumped them throughout’… despite crashing out of Champions League last 16

  • Holders Liverpool were dumped out of the Champions League on Wednesday
  • Liverpool lost 4-2 to Atletico Madrid on aggregate after a 3-2 second-leg defeat
  • Michael Owen blasted Atletico’s tactics on Twitter after their last-16 victory

The fallout of Liverpool’s Champions League defeat by Atletico Madrid has continued with Michael Owen blasting the performance of the latter.

The defending champions were dumped out of the last-16 stage on Wednesday night 4-2 on aggregate after losing the second leg at Anfield 3-2 after extra-time.

Liverpool looked to be progressing through when Roberto Firmino put them in front in extra time only for a Marcos Llorente double and Alvaro Morata strike to see the visitors cause an upset.

Michael Owen has blasted Atletico Madrid’s tactics after they beat Liverpool on Wednesday

Owen took to Twitter on Thursday morning to hit out at their win due to their defensive tactics

Goals from Alvaro Morata (left) and Marcos Llorente saw Atletico dump out the current holders

Possession 

Liverpool 71% – 29% Atletico Madrid

Shots

Liverpool 34 – 10 Atletico Madrid

Shots on target

Liverpool 11 – 6 Atletico Madrid 

Atletico’s win was more remarkable considering the stats. They had 10 shots in total and 29 per cent possession compared to Liverpool’s 34 shots and 71 per cent possession.

Their defensive mindset was criticised by Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp post-match and former Reds striker Michael Owen echoed his sentiments.

‘Please spare me all this inevitable [Diego] Simeone masterclass nonsense,’ he blasted on Twitter on Thursday morning.

‘There’s nothing genius about putting 11 top class footballers behind the ball. Liverpool absolutely pumped them throughout.’

Klopp hit out at Atletico Madrid for not playing ‘proper football’ – stating his displeasure at his counterpart Diego Simeone’s tactics.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp took aim at Atletico Madrid for their style of play post-match

Klopp insisted that players like Koke (right) could play ‘proper football’ after the defeat

‘I’m completely happy with the performance. What can I say? It’s so difficult to play against a side like that.

‘I don’t understand with this quality they have to be honest why they play this type of football. It’s right, the winner is always.

‘When I see players like Koke, Saul, Llorente, they could play proper football and not stand in their own half and play counter-attacking football.

‘They beat us, that’s how it is and we accept that of course. Congratulations to them. It doesn’t feel right tonight. I realise I’m a really, really bad loser.

‘Especially when the boys put such an effort in a game. Not just two players but with two banks of four and two strikers in front of them. They didn’t even have counter-attacks.

Diego Simeone’s men pulled off a brilliant 3-2 win at Anfield to knock Liverpool out of Europe

‘They were just brilliant. We have to accept that we concede three goals but the game can decide this.

‘We had some lucky moments in the Champions League, we know that to get to two finals. Today, it was pretty much everything against us in the decisive moments.’

When asked about Klopp’s analysis of Atletico’s approach, Simeone replied: ‘I respect his identity and the quality footballers they have.

‘We try to exploit deficiencies in the opponent. That’s what we do. And we try to win.’

Simeone celebrates after Atletico secured their progression with a 4-2 win on aggregate




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Schoolgirl sex scandal costs Bulldogs new $2 million sponsorship

The Bulldogs schoolgirl sex scandal has cost the club a $2 million major sponsorship deal with family restaurant chain Rashays.

The Bulldogs were on the verge of announcing a deal on Tuesday night, having agreed to terms with Rashays after long-time sponsor Kia left the club for the Brisbane Broncos this year.

Canterbury captain Josh Jackson, who is not involved in the scandal, appears without a sponsor on his jersey at the NRL season launch. Two other players have been suspended by the club.Credit:NRL.com

However after the Bulldogs contacted Rashays to inform them that two players, Corey Harawira-Naera and Jayden Okunbor, had been stood down for having consensual sex with high school girls they met in Port Macquarie, the restaurant chain pulled out of the deal. The girls were above the age of consent and there is no criminal investigation.

The Bulldogs allowed Rashays to withdraw from the deal to which they had agreed in the days prior given their status as a family restaurant chain.

The Herald has also obtained an image of the new jerseys with the Rashays brand on the front, which had been designed as a display model that would have been produced in time for Thursday night's season opener against the Parramatta Eels at Bankwest Stadium.

The Bulldogs had been on the verge of signing Rashay’s as a main sponsor.

It is understood the jerseys were approved for manufacturing on Monday and were sent off to be printed, with some sent to Rashays.

The Herald contacted Rashays owner Rami Ykmour and the Canterbury Bulldogs on Wednesday morning, however both declined to comment.

Canterbury had spent the offseason searching for a major sponsor, with captain Josh Jackson appearing at last week's NRL launch as the only club representative wearing a jersey without a sponsor.

The incident involving Okunbor and Harawira-Naera occurred in Port Macquarie before the club's trial match against Canberra on February 29.



There had been no complaints made by the two 17-year-old girls who came back to the team hotel and engaged in consensual sex.

Bulldogs chief executive Andrew Hill said the club felt the players didn't live up to the values and morals of the "family club" when they brought the pair back to the team hotel.

While the players did not break the law, they did break the team's policy, which states that women aren't to be brought back to the hotel.

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Fresh injury blow for Harley Bennell

Harley Bennell has suffered a fresh setback in his AFL comeback bid with Melbourne.

The unlucky midfielder reported soreness in a calf muscle at training last weekend and scans have since confirmed yet another strain.

Harley Bennell has suffered another calf strain.Credit:Getty Images

In a statement, football manager Josh Mahoney said the Demons were not overly concerned as they knew his rehabilitation process would take time.

"Harley pulled up sore following a training session on the weekend and scans have shown a low-grade strain in his calf," Mahoney said.

"While disappointing to have this occur again, we deliberately set expectations on Harley conservatively, allowing for some setbacks."

In a further blow to the Demons, Christian Salem has been diagnosed with a mild case of glandular fever but remains in contention for selection in the season opener against West Coast on March 22.

with AAP

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