Man United 'increasingly confident of £135m Saul Niguez signing'

Manchester United ‘increasingly confident of club record £135m Saul Niguez signing’ to replace Paul Pogba after Ole Gunnar Solskjaer received glowing scouting reports on Atletico Madrid midfielder

  • United ‘have identified’ Atletico Madrid midfielder as a prime transfer target
  • Old Trafford club would have to pay Spaniard’s £135million release clause
  • But they could raise funds by selling Paul Pogba to Real Madrid in next window
  • United scouts watched Saul help Atletico knock Liverpool out of Europe
  • They sent glowing reports back to United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer 

Manchester United ‘are growing increasingly confident they could sign Saul Niguez in a club record £135million deal’ as they look to replace Paul Pogba.

The Old Trafford club have been long-term admirers of the Atletico Madrid midfielder and sent scouts to watch Saul as he helped knock Liverpool out of the Champions League earlier this month.

And, according to The Daily Star, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer received a glowing report, confirming Saul as a prime target for the next transfer window.

Manchester United ‘are increasingly confident’ of signing £135m-rated midfielder Saul Niguez

Saul played a crucial role as Atletico knocked Liverpool out of the Champions League 

With Pogba expected to leave in the coming months, with Real Madrid interested in the £100m-rated French midfielder, United would reinvest the cash to sign 25-year-old Spain star Niguez.

Saul has a buy-out clause in his nine-year Atletico contract of £135m and United are prepared to match that, smashing the club record £89m they spent to bring Pogba back from Juventus in 2016.

He would fit the profile of world class, but still relatively young, talent that Solskjaer is seeking as he attempts to rebuild United back into a trophy-winning force.

Saul would fit into United’s midfield alongside Portuguese star Bruno Fernandes, who has made a fine start to life at Old Trafford after signing from Sporting Lisbon in January.

United scouts were dispatched to Anfield to watch Saul in action during the second leg

Saul could be the perfect midfield replacement for Paul Pogba, who is expected to leave 

United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is continuing his rebuild of the squad at Old Trafford

The Spanish player signed a uniquely long contract with Atletico back in 2017 that runs through until 2026.

Saul has scored four times in 37 appearances for Atletico this season, including the only goal of their Champions League last-16, first leg against Liverpool in Madrid.

They subsequently won 3-2 at Anfield after extra time to secure their place in the quarter-finals if and when the season resumes following the coronavirus pandemic.

 


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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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United 'lead the race to sign Borussia Dortmund star Jadon Sancho'

Manchester United ‘lead the race to sign Borussia Dortmund star Jadon Sancho with club hopeful of agreeing £120m deal’ this summer

  • Jadon Sancho is widely expected to leave Borussia Dortmund in transfer window
  • Manchester United are interested and willing to spend big to secure winger 
  • Englishman could move for £120million but a number of clubs are in the battle 

Manchester United ‘lead the race to sign Jadon Sancho for  £120million’ this summer. 

The Borussia Dortmund winger is widely expected to leave the Bundesliga side this summer and a host of top sides are interested. 

According to the Mirror, United are front-runners and willing to part with £120m to secure the talented Englishman. 

Jadon Sancho is one of the most sought-after young players in European football

Sancho only joined Dortmund from United’s rivals Manchester City back in 2017 and has seen his value skyrocket. 

Liverpool, Chelsea, Barcelona and Juventus are among the other sides understood to be interested. 

But the £120m price tag is regarded as too high by some, putting United in control of the situation. 

Ed Woodward could sanction a £120million move for the Borussia Dortmund star

United believe the £120m still represents solid value for the age and ability Sancho could offer the side. 

It would shatter the previous club transfer record with the £89m paid for Paul Pogba still the most they have spent on a signing.  

The Old Trafford club also tried to recruit Sancho last summer and their long-held desire to sign the 20-year-old could stand them in good stead.    




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Manchester United 'ready to sell under-fire stars Lingard and Pereira'

Manchester United ‘ready to sell Jesse Lingard and Andreas Pereira with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer planning summer revamp’ as they target Jack Grealish, James Maddison and Jadon Sancho

  • Manchester United could sell Jesse Lingard and Andreas Pereira this summer
  • Both have struggled for form and rarely featured in United’s last few matches 
  • Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is ready to listen to offers, having drawn up summer plans
  • If Lingard and Pereira are sold, it would allow United to sign some of their targets
  • Coronavirus symptoms: what are they and should you see a doctor?

Jesse Lingard and Andreas Pereira are reportedly facing uncertain futures at Manchester United.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer appears to be losing patience with the under-performing pair, having axed the midfielders from his team leading up to football’s coronavirus lockout.

Lingard and Pereira have come under heavy scrutiny from fans this season and now reports are surfacing they could be sold in the summer.

Jesse Lingard is facing an uncertain future at Manchester United, having lost his place in side

Midfielder Andreas Pereira could also be sold this summer after falling out of favour at United

The Sun claim Solskjaer is prepared to listen to offers for the duo as be begins plans for a summer revamp.

United have been continuously linked with moves for Jack Grealish, James Maddison and Jadon Sancho.

And selling both Lingard and Pereira could pave the way for those deals.

Lingard has noticeably struggled for form since the 2018 World Cup and started just one of United’s last three games – in the FA Cup win at Derby.

Despite playing the full 90 minutes, he was abused by fans as he left the stadium earlier this month. 

United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has reportedly drawn up his plans for a summer revamp

Pereira, meanwhile, has been mainly limited to substitute appearances with Fred and Nemanja Matic in rejuvenated form.

Lingard and Pereira were not even selected for United’s squads in their convincing victories over Manchester City and Watford.

Lingard, who revealed to Sportsmail last year he has been struggling with his mother’s illness and caring for his young brother and sister this season, still has two more years left on his deal.

Brazilian Pereira also has a long-term contract.




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Manchester United 'handed boost in pursuit of Kalidou Koulibaly'

Manchester United handed boost in pursuit of Kalidou Koulibaly as £85m defender ‘tells Napoli president he would be willing to leave in the summer for the right offer’

  • Kalidou Koulibaly has informed Napoli’s club president that he is willing to leave 
  • The defender has been consistently linked with several of Europe’s largest clubs 
  • Manchester United were handed a boost with Koulibaly’s intentions revealed
  • But the 28-year-old may remain in Naples in the absence of a reasonable offer 

Napoli star Kalidou Koulibaly has reportedly informed club president Aurelio De Laurentiis that he is willing to leave in the summer for a suitable offer.

The 28-year-old has been consistently linked with several of Europe’s largest clubs, including Manchester United..

According to Il Mattino, Koulibaly told De Laurentiis of his intentions during a phone call between the pair.

Kalidou Koulibaly has informed Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis that he is willing to leave

Despite United’s hopes of securing the highly-coveted defender, Koulibaly also reiterated to the club chief that, in the absence of his valuation being met, remaining in Naples may also be a possibility.

The Italian outlet report that Koulibaly is the highest earner in the Napoli squad, with the Senegalese international also holding a positive relationship with his team-mates due to the newfound optimism generated under Gennaro Gattuso.

But the Old Trafford outfit may have to fend off fierce competition from Paris Saint-Germain to wrap up negotiations, with Koulibaly previously touted to make a move to the reigning Ligue 1 champions. 

Reports from France indicated that the centre-back had even bought a £3.4million apartment in Paris, near the Eiffel Tower, and PSG are desperate to snap up Koulibaly as a long-term replacement for Thiago Silva. 

The defender reportedly enjoys a strong relationship with team-mates under Gennaro Gattuso

But tensions between Kouliably and club chief De Laurentiis may make negotiations difficult

However, tensions between Koulibaly and De Laurentiis have previously been uncovered, and the Napoli chief is certain to hold out for a sizeable transfer figure.

Corriere dello Sport even state that £85million would be required for Koulibaly to join United, who are believed to have retained a long-standing interest and may once again submit an offer.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is reportedly even open to the idea of making Koulibaly the highest-paid player on United’s roster, with the club eager to secure a partner for club captain Harry Maguire.  

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer may be open to the idea of making Koulibaly United’s highest-paid player




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Man United staff 'testing club's stars TWICE a day for coronavirus'

Manchester United medical staff ‘testing club’s stars TWICE a day for coronavirus symptoms’ with no plans to close Carrington yet

  • Manchester United’s stars are tested on arrival and when leaving Carrington 
  • There are no plans to close Carrington yet despite the coronavirus outbreak
  • United’s players were monitored for the coronavirus against Austrian side LASK
  • Sportsmail answers your key questions regarding the coronavirus impact
  • Coronavirus symptoms: what are they and should you see a doctor?

Manchester United’s medical team are testing the club’s stars twice a day for coronavirus during training, according to reports.

Club doctors at United’s Carrington training ground are unwilling to take any risks with the virus continuing to spread.

As a result, the Mirror claim Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men are tested when they arrive and leave the training ground.

Manchester United’s medical team are testing the club’s stars twice a day for the coronavirus

Club doctors at United’s Carrington training ground are not taking any risks with the virus

United have no plans to close Carrington yet – despite Arsenal and Everton’s training complexes being in complete lockdown.

However, United are taking precautions, with only essential first-team staff allowed to come into close contact with players.

The news comes after it was revealed that United’s players were monitored for the virus throughout their Europa League last 16 first leg against LASK.

They took player’s temperatures at the halfway stage to make certain no-one was at risk of falling victim to the Coronavirus.

United’s players were monitored for the virus throughout their Europa League tie against LASK

And additionally – on their flight back to Manchester – medical staff took further readings with the club on red-alert to the dangers of spreading the virus.

Speaking after United’s 5-0 drubbing of the Austrian side on Thursday, Solskjaer said: ‘Our medical staff are watching this minute to minute.

‘Even at half time during the game in Austria the doctor was checking the players.

‘Of course, we are part of the general public as well. We have a duty to obey what the authorities and experts decide on.’

HOW CORONAVIRUS HAS HIT THE WORLD OF SPORT SO FAR

2020 OLYMPIC GAMES 

Cancelled

The Olympic torch relay in Greece was cancelled on Friday 13 March – just a day after the flame was lit in Olympia.

Large crowds mobbed Hollywood actor Gerard Butler as he lit the cauldron in the Greek city of Sparta on Friday 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.

The Olympic flame will still be handed over to the Tokyo 2020 organising committee at the Panathenaic Stadium in Athens on Thursday, but without fans. It is the only the third time that a relay to Athens for the summer Games has not been completed.

In doubt 

The scale of the outbreak in Japan saw senior International Olympic Committee member Dick Pound describe the disease as ‘the new war’ threatening Tokyo 2020 and he warned the Games may have to be cancelled if the virus was still around by May.

Olympic organisers told athletes to train as normal with no decision on cancellation

The Japanese government later insisted Pound’s comments were not the IOC’s official stance but there remains doubts over whether the summer showcase can still go ahead with health concerns.

Athletes have been told to keep training and the plan remains to hold the Games in Japan as planned but training for around 80,000 volunteers has been delayed for at least two months- it was due to begin on February 22. 

On Friday, March 13; President Donald Trump’s suggestion to postpone the Tokyo Olympics for a year because of the spreading 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.

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 schedule on July 24. 

ATHLETICS

Cancelled

World Athletics Indoor Championships (March 13-15 in Nanjing) is off until 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.

The Seoul Marathon is cancelled in a bid to protect runners following the mass outbreak in South Korea.

The Paris half-marathon is cancelled and the French government also decided to ban all indoor public gatherings of more than 5,000 people.

The race involving some 44,000 competitors was scheduled for Sunday (March 1) in the French capital city. Organisers said the race will be postponed to a date yet to be determined.

The Barcelona marathon scheduled for March 15 has been postponed until October to stop the spread of the coronavirus, Barcelona’s city hall said in a statement.

In doubt

A mixed relay Olympic triathlon qualification event scheduled for Chengdu, China in May is moved to Valencia, pending an outbreak in Spain.

BADMINTON

Cancelled

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’.

BOXING

Cancelled

Olympic boxing qualifiers to be staged in Wuhan were cancelled by the International Olympic Committee, and now are relocated to occur 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.

In doubt 

All British fights over the next two months are under threat. The BBBoC confirmed to Sportsmail they are no currently making recommendations to cancel shows but admitted that can change and will await guidance from the government.

CRICKET

Cancelled 

England’s tour of Sri Lanka was postponed on Friday 13 March due to the coronavirus pandemic, 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 that was in the process of being written off by decision-makers back at Lord’s.

CYCLING

In doubt

Danish cyclist Michael Morkov has been cleared to race at the UCI Track Cycling World Championships after being kept in isolation over fears of an outbreak of coronavirus.

Morkov, 34, had travelled to Berlin in February after contesting the first four stages of the UAE Tour, the final two stages of which were then cancelled after two members of staff on the race were suspected of having the disease.

Riders and staff on the UAE Tour have been in lockdown since but, after the Abu Dhabi Department of Health issued a statement on Saturday saying 167 tests had come back negative, the UCI said Morkov was free to race as normal.

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

FOOTBALL

Cancelled

Top-level English and Scottish football has been suspended until April 3 at the earliest due to the coronavirus pandemic, it was announced on Friday 13 March.

The Football Association, the Premier League, the English Football League, FA Women’s Super League and FA Women’s Championship have all agreed to call a halt to competitive action with immediate effect.

A joint statement from the Scottish Football Association and the Scottish Professional Football League confirmed the suspension of all football north of the border until further notice.

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

On Friday 13 March, UEFA has announced all Champions League and Europa League fixtures scheduled for next week are postponed, as well as the quarter-final draws for both competitions. UEFA has called an emergency meeting on Tuesday 17 March to discuss whether Euro 2020 can go ahead as scheduled. 

All domestic fixtures at all levels are postponed by the Chinese Football Association as the season is pushed back due to the scale of the outbreak in China.

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.

Inter Milan’s game against Sampdoria was one of four Serie A games cancelled on February 22-23 weekend due to affected regions in Italy leading to advice from the prime minister to call off sporting events.

Inter Milan’s Europa League match with Getafe was also postponed on March 11, while Roma’s flight to Spain to face Sevilla was banned from landing before being postponed, with Italy on lockdown. 

The Coppa Italia match between Napoli and Inter Milan on March 5 became the latest fixture to be called off, when it was postponed indefinitely. It was the 12th game to be postponed since the crisis began and the third involving Inter.

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

An update from sports minister Vincenzo Spadafora later confirmed all the Serie A fixtures for the weekend commencing March 7-8, would be played behind closed doors. And with the country on lockdown, it was later announced that all sport, including Serie A games, would be 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 light of the coronavirus pandemic.  

In Spain, April 18’s Copa del Rey final between between Athletic Bilbao and Real Sociedad has been postponed.

UEFA said it is asking governments across the continent to ensure Euro 2020 goes ahead in three months despite the coronavirus outbreak.

MLS has been suspended for 30 days with David Beckham’s first Inter Miami home game delayed. 

Impacted

The home leg of the Chinese women’s national team’s Olympic qualification play-off against South Korea set for March is switched to Sydney. The squad are held in quarantine upon their arrival in Australia for January’s qualifying group stage due to fears of virus carriers.

Inter Milan’s Europa League match against Ludogorets on February 27 was played behind closed doors. Only TV rights-holders are allowed to attend as media as the club look to secure the San Siro. Ludogorets players arrived in Italy wearing face masks.

Serie A announced five matches on February 28-March 1 would be played behind closed doors, including Juventus vs Inter Milan in Turin, a huge match between title rivals.

Ligue 1 followed suit with games set to be played in empty stadiums until April 15. Clubs also have the option of playing games with just 1,000 fans.

LaLiga became the latest league to ban supporters in stadiums after guidance from Spain’s health ministry and sports council. Barcelona’s Champions League tie with Napoli will also be played in an empty ground.

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

Three players from third-division Italian football club US Pianese have tested positive for coronavirus, the Tuscany side confirmed on Friday. 

Olympiacos owner Evangelos Marinakis, who also owns Nottingham Forest, tested positive for the coronavirus. Both Olympiacos and Forest squads were tested and all returned negative. 

In Germany, Hannover 96 defender Timo Hubers tested positive for the virus.

Spain’s Copa del Rey final, which was set to take place on April 18, between Real Sociedad and Athletic Bilbao has now been postponed.

Cristiano Ronaldo went into isolation in Madeira after it emerged that his Juventus team-mate, Daniele Rugani, has coronavirus. 

Another Juventus player, Paulo Dybala, has also tested positive according to reports and he has been placed in quarantine. 

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

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 have gone into self-isolation, while two buildings at their training ground in Cobham have been closed. Their game against Aston Villa, scheduled for Saturday March 14, appears certain to be postponed. 

In doubt

Thursday’s Europa League clash between Olympiakos on Wolves took place behind closed doors after an order by the government in Greece, but Wolves have asked UEFA to delay the fixture.

England’s friendly against Italy at Wembley in March is still set to go ahead, as per a tweet from England football’s account on March 11. England are also set to play Denmark in March.

Israel has warned citizens to avoid all international travel, which raises questions whether supporters or players will travel to Scotland for their Euro 2020 play-off match on March 26. 

Growing concerns that some matches at Euro 2020 could be called off if the coronavirus outbreak gets worse between now and the summer. The tournament is set to be multi-city. UEFA admit they are in a ‘waiting stage’ and must follow the orders of the individual countries involved. However, FA Chairman Greg Clarke has stated that he expects the tournament to go ahead.

Premier League games are ‘likely’ to be played behind closed doors ‘in the coming weeks’ over coronavirus fears, Everton board member Sasha Ryazantsev has warned, in line with the action taken in Serie A. 

Chelsea’s Champions League last-16 second leg at Bayern Munich is also heading towards being postponed, it was revealed on March 13. 

Football bodies across England and the rest of Europe are bracing themselves for a reported total shutdown of every league until September. UEFA will hold a meeting on Tuesday, March 17 will be crucial in sorting the fate of the 2019-20 season.

FORMULA ONE

Cancelled

The Australian Grand Prix has been 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 is postponed with no decision over whether it will be reinserted into the 2020 calendar for later in the season.  

Impacted 

The Bahrain Grand Prix, scheduled for March 20-22, is set to be called off as is the inaugural Vietnam Grand Prix (scheduled to take place in Hanoi on April 5). 

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

In doubt 

There is hope that the F1 season can begin on May 3. F1 chiefs are looking to press on with the Zandvoort race in Holland on that date.

GOLF

Cancelled

The Women’s Amateur Asia-Pacific golf championship, slated to take place from February 12-15 in Thailand, was postponed and has been rescheduled for October.

The Honda LPGA Thailand event in Pattaya, Thailand scheduled for February 20-23 along with the HSBC Women’s World Championship in Singapore, scheduled to start on February 27, were both postponed

The PGA Tour Series-China postponed two qualifying tournaments and delayed the start of its 2020 campaign by two months, cutting the number of regular season events down from 14 to 10.

The decision was made to cancel the LPGA Blue Bay tournament in China, with the event at Hainan Island (due to start on March 5) seen as dangerous to players’ health

The European Tour postponed the Maybank Championship (April 16-19 in Kuala Lumpur) and Volvo China Open (April 23-26 in Shenzhen).

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 Thursday 12 March. 

They have also scrapped their next three events, meaning there will be no PGA Tour events prior to the first major of the year, The Masters, in April. However, on Friday 13 March the prestigious Augusta tournament was also postponed.

In a statement released online, Fred Ridley, Chairman of Augusta National Golf Club, emphasised that the decision makers hope to hold the prestigious tournament ‘at some later date’. 

The first men’s major championship of the year was due to begin on April 9 in Georgia, but has been suspended due to the escalating pandemic. 

Impacted

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

Impacted

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

Two race meetings in France next week are to take place behind closed doors in a response to the coronavirus outbreak.

Monday’s jumps card and the Wednesday fixture on the Flat at Compiegne will have no paying customers, with the order coming from the mayor of the town and the president of the Compiegne Racing Society.

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

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

RUGBY

Cancelled

Scotland Women’s Six Nations match with Italy on February 23 is postponed due to an outbreak in the Milan area.

And the Women’s match between Wales and Scotland in the Six Nations on March 15 is also off after one Scottish player tested positive for the virus. 

Ireland’s Six Nations meeting with Italy on March 7 is postponed.

Ospreys and Ulster’s Pro14 trips to play in Italy on February 29 are postponed. Ospreys were due to play Zebre in Parma with Treviso the venue for Ulster’s game against Benetton.

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

The Italian Rugby Federation suspended its National Championship and youth games for February 28-March 1.

Hong Kong Rugby Sevens is postponed, which is a blow to Olympic preparations for Team GB.

England’s final Six Nations game against Italy is off ‘with the intention to reschedule it at a later date’. The same applies to the corresponding women’s and U20s fixtures. All were due to be played on March 13-15.

Meanwhile, France’s Six Nations clash with Ireland on March 14 has been pushed back with the French government taking measures against sporting events. 

In doubt

Scottish rugby announced preparations ‘continue as normal’ as they discuss with French rugby whether to proceed with their Six Nations match on March 8 following a second coronavirus death in France.

All of Italy’s remaining Six Nations fixtures – they are due to host England in their final game on March 14 – are in serious doubt given the scale of the outbreak in Italy.

Fears of the virus spreading then prompted ITV to abandon plans to send commentators and pundits out to Rome for England’s game against Italy in Rome.

TENNIS

Cancelled

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 is 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 playoff.

WTA event Xi’an Open (set for April 13-19) is cancelled due to fears over player safety. 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 next month’s Fed Cup finals have been postponed due to the coronavirus outbreak.

The event was due to be held in Budapest 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. 

Impacted

Japan’s home Davis Cup tie against Ecuador next week is now set to be played behind closed doors.

Players will be banned from handing their towels to ball-kids at next week’s BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, organisers said on Friday. 

OTHER SPORTS

Cancelled 

MotoGP have cancelled their first two races of the season in Qatar and Thailand. Moto2 and Moto3 will though run in Qatar though as they were already based at the track for pre-season testing.

Cycling’s United Arab Emirates Tour has been cancelled with Chris Froome tested for coronavirus and Mark Cavendish put into lockdown in his hotel room. 

South Korean 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.

Next month’s World Triathlon Series event in Abu Dhabi was postponed on Saturday as a precautionary measure.

The event was due to take place from March 5 to March 7 in the city, which has reported new cases of the virus.

Event organisers said they still hoped to reschedule the event to take place later in March or April. 

The Women’s World Ice Hockey Championships, scheduled for Canada later this month, have been cancelled. 

The NBA has also been suspended indefinitely after two Utah Jazz players contracted the virus. 

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

The London marathon has been postponed for six months. It was scheduled to take place on April 26 but has now been pushed back to October.

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

Impacted

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. 

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

In doubt

The South Korean baseball league regular season is in doubt ahead of the first round of matches on March 28. An emergency meeting has been called.   

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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Manchester United 'offer Dean Henderson £100,000-per-week new deal'

Manchester United ‘offer Dean Henderson £100,000-per-week new deal’ as Old Trafford chiefs look to stave off Chelsea interest in young goalkeeper

  • Manchester United have reportedly offered Dean Henderson an improved deal 
  • The young goalkeeper has attracted attention from Premier League’s top clubs 
  • Chelsea are believed to be preparing a £50million bid for the Englishman
  • However, United have offered Henderson £100,000-per-week to keep him 

Manchester United have reportedly offered Dean Henderson a huge new contract to stave off interest from Premier League rivals for the young goalkeeper.

Henderson has long vented his frustration at a lack of opportunities to break into the United first team, with first choice keeper David de Gea seemingly unmovable between the sticks.

The Englishman’s strong displays for loan club Sheffield United, coupled with De Gea’s poor showings for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side, has strengthened calls for the youngster to get his shot at Old Trafford.

Manchester United have reportedly offered Dean Henderson a new £100k-per-week deal

The Englishman has impressed while on loan at Sheffield United in the Premier League

Henderson had told team-mates at Bramall Lane he was willing to return to the Blades next season if he is not guaranteed a first team place, but United are upping the ante to keep their man amid interest from Chelsea.

The Sun reports that Old Trafford chiefs are offering the 23-year-old an improved deal of £100,000-per-week to secure the goalkeeper’s long term future at the club.

Should Henderson sign the updated terms, it would be his fourth professional contract with the club, despite never starting a game for United.

United are looking to secure Henderson’s long term future amid uncertainty with De Gea

They are also looking to stave off interest from Chelsea who are known admirers of the keeper

It would also present a huge blow to Chelsea’s pursuit of the youngster, with Frank Lampard keen to recruit a new goalkeeper after £71million signing Kepa Arrizabalaga has fallen out of favour at Stamford Bridge.

Chelsea are prepared to offer United around £50million to prise one of the country’s top young keepers away from them, and now the ball is well and truly in Henderson’s court as he looks to determine his future.

Henderson has two years remaining on his current deal with United, with the club’s hierarchy willing to let their keeper decide on his future next season.  




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Manchester United star has convinced Paul Pogba to make stunning u-turn

Manchester United star Paul Pogba is reportedly ready to make a stunning u-turn by signing a new contract to stay at Old Trafford.

The Frenchman, who signed for the club in a world record deal for £89m in 2016, had been keen on leaving under Jose Mourinho in 2018 and then again the following summer but was denied the chance of doing so by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

That decision has backfired somewhat with Pogba featuring just twice since September because of injury and his value has dropped with clubs such as Real Madrid and Juventus unwilling to break the bank for the midfielder, as well as matching his £240,000-a-week wages.

Nevertheless, Pogba had been expected to leave but the Daily Mail claim he’s happy at the club and would even be happy to extend his deal, which expires in 2022.

The decision could rest on United’s chances of qualifying for the Champions League and they’re currently three points away from fourth-placed Chelsea in the Premier League.

Should Pogba sign a new deal, it would represent a stunning turnaround and Bruno Fernandes’ arrival in January should not be overestimated.

Pogba is said to be ‘excited’ by the playmaker’s arrival and believes he can strike up a wining partnership with the 25-year-old in United’s midfield.

The Portuguese star has lit up Old Trafford and his creativity would relieve some of the burden on Pogba, who feels he’s been unable to tie down a regular position in the starting XI because he’s asked to do so many different jobs.

David De Gea has overtaken Pogba as United’s highest paid player since signing a new deal at Old Trafford but the Frenchman could feasibly win back that crown should he sign new terms.

Pogba has resumed first team training but Sunday’s trip to Spurs is likely to come too soon for the midfielder.

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Manchester United 2-0 City: Anthony Martial and Scott McTominay strike

Manchester United 2-0 Manchester City: Anthony Martial and Scott McTominay make the most of Ederson’s miserable day as Red Devils do the double over rivals to keep up Champions League push

  • Anthony Martial gave Manchester United the lead in the 30th minute at Old Trafford on Sunday afternoon 
  • The Frenchman fired home from a clever Bruno Fernandes free kick beyond Manchester City keeper Ederson 
  • The hosts were denied a penalty after Fred was brought down by Nicolas Otamendi in the first half 
  • Sergio Aguero had an early second half goal ruled out after being in a marginal offside position 
  • Scott McTominay capitalised on a late Ederson error to double United’s lead in the dying seconds 

Ignore for a moment the fact that this victory may bring forward a date with a dreaded destiny, this was a huge performance, and an even bigger win for Manchester United.

Yes, it may have altered the date Liverpool win the league by more than two weeks – to March 21 at home to Crystal Palace if they can win at Goodison Park against Everton the preceding Monday – but this was a significant result for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and his players. It is the first season they have done the league double over their city rivals since 2009-10, and only the second time they have beaten them at Old Trafford in the last decade.

And it was deserved. City had the bulk of the ball, and laid siege when chasing the game in the second-half, but United defended smartly, impressed on the counter attack and Solskjaer is now getting a tune out of Anthony Martial, whose winner was his fourth goal in five games. Nobody can say he hasn’t filled Marcus Rashford’s shoes in those matches, and credit to Solskjaer and his coaching team for that. Without doubt, Martial has grown in this recent spell. 

Strikes from Scott McTominay and Anthony Martial earned Manchester United a huge 2-0 win over Manchester City

The Scottish midfielder fired home from range after an Ederson error allowed the Manchester United man an easy finish

Martial gave United a first half lead after firing home from a Bruno Fernandes cross beyond City goalkeeper Ederson

The Frenchman kept his cool to slot home and hand United a deserved lead having enjoyed the better of the chances

United players congratulate their team-mate after taking a first half lead against arch rivals City on Sunday afternoon

Sunday’s win ensured United kept pace with Chelsea in the race to qualify for the Champions League this season

Manchester United (3-5-2): De Gea; Maguire, Lindelof, Shaw; Williams (Bailly 78), Wan-Bissaka, Matic, Fred, Fernandes (Ighalo 88); James, Martial (McTominay 78)

Subs not used: Greenwood, Mata, Romero, Tuanzebe

Goals: Martial (30), McTominay (90+6)

Booked: Fred

Manager: Ole Gunnar Solskjaer

Manchester City: (4-3-3): Ederson; Cancelo, Otamendi, Fernandinho, Zinchenko (Mendy 77); B Silva (Mahrez 59), Rodri, Gundogan; Foden, Sterling, Aguero (Jesus 59)

Subs not used: Bravo, Garcia, Silva, Walker

Goals: NA

Booked: Fernandinho, Rodri

Manager: Pep Guardiola

Referee: Mike Dean

Season at a glance

 

So desperate were City for their equaliser that, in the final minute of injury time, Ederson – who had a very poor game – completely overcooked a quick, counter-attacking throw intended for Nicolas Otamendi, which fell to Scott McTominay, He struck it first time back towards the unguarded goal, and United had the winning margin their performance deserved.

For City, this was another setback, the third time they have lost to United this season – including the second leg Carabao Cup tie – and a result that increases their remoteness from the league leaders. They did enough to equalise in the second-half, when Phil Foden and Nicolas Otamendi came close and Raheem Sterling missed an excellent chances from a Riyad Mahrez cross – but United could have had a penalty when Fred was tripped, and Bruno Fernandes has transformed their midfield in a way Paul Pogba never could. This is a team with the potential to go place; but there’s pain to come first, whether on March 21 or whenever the inevitable occurs.

Possession statistics can be misleading. To read them, as the game approached the half hour, it would appear that Manchester City were dominating. Yet, to the naked eye, this was a balanced game. Oleksandr Zinchenko and then Ilkay Gundogan had both made mistakes that could have let Manchester United in, and Nicolas Otamendi was lucky to have escaped a caution having cleaned out Daniel James. So when Bruno Fernandes was brought down by Gundogan outside the City penalty area to the left, there was plainly danger, given the dead ball expertise of United’s January recruit. So it proved.

He’s a smart thinker, Fernandes, and standing over the ball he chose not to try his luck or curl one, but lift the ball in a cheeky lob, up and over the City defence, wrong-footing Sergio Aguero who was the nearest man to Manchester United’s runner, Anthony Martial. What followed was a well-taken goal, but with a sprinkling of luck. Martial took it down sweetly and hit a low shot at the near post, but City goalkeeper Ederson should have done better, beaten at a tight angle in disappointing fashion. Just two minutes later, Fernandes was perhaps too keen to get on the end of a Luke Shaw cross and got underneath it, or City could have been looking at a significant half-time disadvantage.

Ederson had a day to forget having conceded two goals he should have done better in keeping out at Old Trafford

The Brazilian goalkeeper shows his dejection after his second mistake during the Manchester derby on Sunday

Ilkay Gundogan speaks with his goalkeeper after the Brazilian made two uncharacteristic errors in the Manchester derby

United were denied a penalty just before half time after Fred was brought down by City defender Nicolas Otamendi

The home side were incensed as referee Mike Dean gave the Brazilian a yellow card for what he deemed a dive

City striker Sergio Aguero had a second half goal ruled out with the Argentine deemed in an offside position

Ederson almost conceded a trio of goals due to his own errors as Martial snuffed out a lapse in concentration from the keeper

Martial required treatment after colliding with the goalpost as he harried City goalkeeper Ederson at Old Trafford

And it would not have been undeserved, for all their possession. City saw a lot of the ball but United had the better chances. In the 15th minute, Fernandes found James who should have done better with a straightforward shot that Emerson gathered at the second attempt. Soon after, Martial beat Cancelo on the left and cut inside, but his shot was weak and gave Emerson no trouble.

City had complained that the free-kick that led to the goal was soft, but United had far greater cause for complaint shortly before half-time when Fred was brought down in the penalty area by Otamendi. Not only did referee Mike Dean – who has been singing his own praises in recent weeks, for some unknown reason – not give it, he booked Fred for diving.

The second-half began in much the same fashion: City attempting to pass United to death but failing to convince. Cancelo played the ball back to Ederson whose sweeper-keeper leanings were exposed as he miscontrolled in the six yard box and ended up in a 50-50 with Martial, who collided painfully with a post trying to convert his second.

Yet, while this was very much advantage United, it could have been very different had City taken the first opportunity of the game after ten minutes. It came after Shaw made a foolish area, hassled and caught in possession by Aguero. He fed Bernardo Silva inside, who played it across to Raheem Sterling. He had time to size up the target and curl a low shot that David Dea Gea parried out.

Argentine star Aguero puts the pressure on David De Gea in the opening stages at Old Trafford on Sunday

Aaron Wan-Bissaka knocks the ball back to a United team-mate as he operates in a wing-back role for his side

Aguero glides past United captain Harry Maguire but the ball is snuffed out by Nemanja Matic on the weekend

United new boy Bruno Fernandes barks instructions as the hosts look to maintain their disciplined shape at Old Trafford

Fernandes and Oleksandr Zinchenko compete for the ball midway through the first half in Sunday’s clash

City forward Raheem Sterling looks to wriggle past three United defenders and carve out an opening for the visitors

De Gea leaps into the Old Trafford sky to claw away a City effort as the visitors looked to draw level on Sunday

Martial skips past City’s highly talented youngster Phil Foden as he looked to offer his defenders some reprieve

Daniel James blazes a shot over the crossbar to the frustration of Fernandes who was open for the cut back for United

Pep Guardiola cut a frustrated figure as he watched his side fall to another defeat to their rivals on Sunday afternoon






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Man United 'confident Tahith Chong will commit to long term deal'

Manchester United ‘confident Tahith Chong will commit to long-term deal’ amid interest from Inter Milan, Juventus and Barcelona in the winger

  • Chong, 20, has featured in 10 first-team games for Man United this season
  • Holland Under 21 international was set to see his contract expire in the summer
  • Inter Milan, Juventus and Barcelona had all been linked with the winger
  • But United ‘are now confident’ Chong will commit to long-term deal with them 

Manchester United ‘are confident they can keep hold of Tahith Chong this summer’ and commit the 20-year-old forward to a long-term contract.

It had been expected that Chong would leave Old Trafford, with Inter Milan, Juventus and Barcelona among the clubs interested in him.

With Chong’s contract set to expire in the summer, any suitor could have signed Chong for just a compensation fee.

Manchester United ‘are confident 20-year-old winger Tahith Chong will sign a new contract’

Holland Under 21 international Chong has played 10 first-team games for United this season

But, according to the Sunday Telegraph, United are hopeful now of keeping the Holland Under 21 international.

They quote an Old Trafford source as saying the club ‘hope that offers from abroad will be resisted and the club can beat any interest.’

Chong joined United’s academy from Feyenoord back in 2016 and he has made 10 first-team appearances this season.

Chong in action for United during their UEFA Europa League win over Club Brugge 

United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer won’t want to lose one of the club’s academy graduates

He has started one FA Cup, one Carabao Cup and two Europa League matches so far with manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer hoping to give him further opportunities.

If Chong commits to a new deal, it would be another indication of United’s renewed commitment to young players after Brandon Williams and Mason Greenwood made their breakthrough this season.

Inter have been leading the chase for Chong having already signed Romelu Lukaku, Ashley Young and Alexis Sanchez from United in the past 12 months.

 


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