MANCHESTER UNITED are back in training with the Premier League restart date now confirmed.
And Dortmund's Jadon Sancho would reportedly prefer a move to Man Utd over any other club, while Odion Ighalo would sacrifice a £75m salary package from Shanghai Shenhua to stay at Old Trafford.
Get all the Red Devils news, updates and gossip here…
They have bent over backwards to make Project Restart a reality and ensure that Liverpool claim the title they so richly deserve.
Despite the quite reasonable fears of many players, managers and others in wider society, the Premier League’s clubs have shown unity and decisiveness by agreeing to restart the season on June 17.
There will be no nulling and voiding and, assuming all is safe and well, no asterisk to denote a curtailed season against the Reds’ first title in 30 years.
So there should be no squabbling over whether Liverpool are allowed to play on Merseyside until they have been confirmed as champions — or even if they are forced away from Anfield for the remainder of this season.
With Jurgen Klopp’s men a staggering 25 points clear, there is no doubt they will be crowned champions. Their season to date has been the most dominant league campaign in the history of the English top flight, with 27 wins from 29 matches.
And so there can be no reasonable argument about a lack of ‘sporting integrity’ in them being asked to play their remaining home matches at neutral venues, as well as their next fixture, the Merseyside derby scheduled for Goodison Park.
Inter Milan have confirmed Alexis Sanchez will stay until the end of the extended season to try and earn himself a permanent deal.
The Manchester United and ex-Arsenal striker has been on loan with the Serie A giants since last summer and was due to return to Old Trafford next month.
Italian football was delayed by coronavirus which could have seen the Chilean leave the San Siro before the campaign was completed.
But Inter's sporting director Piero Ausillo confirmed the ex-Arsenal man will be given a chance to prove his worth as the club will extend his deal to ensure he can play out the season.
Serie A is set to return behind closed doors on June 20, according to Italy's sports minister Vincenzo Spadafora.
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☁️ Dreaming of the Theatre of Dreams ☁️ Here's #Martial, #Greenwood and #Rashford treating the OT crowd in our 4-1 win v Newcastle in December 😌✨ #MUFC
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United are STILL in the running for Kalidou Koulibaly, according to reports in Italy.
The Napoli defender is attracting interest from all over Europe, but his £85million transfer fee remains a stumbling block, and is likely to be significantly lower after coronavirus.
Niccolo Ceccarini wrote said via Tuttomercatoweb: “Koulibaly has been clear for some time.
“Napoli evaluates him at 100 million, but today it is very difficult to bring home such a figure.
“For him, a future in the Premier League is possible. Manchester United is always in the running, but Liverpool and Tottenham have also recently joined.
“It is clear that in case of farewell, Napoli would sign another central defender.”
ZERO COVID CASES
The Prem have confirmed that after the fourth round of testing for coronavirus, they've had NO new positive results… so on we march to June 17!
A statement said: “The Premier League can today confirm that on Thursday 28 May and Friday 29 May, 1,130 players and club staff were tested for COVID-19.
“Of these, zero have tested positive.
“The Premier League is providing this aggregated information for the purposes of competition integrity and transparency.
“No specific details as to clubs or individuals will be provided by the League and results will be made public after each round of testing.”
Nathan Bishop has been spotted in Manchester United’s trainingafter being brought in as cover for injured Lee Grant.
The former Southend stopper, 20, is yet to make his debut for the club.
But as shown on United’s YouTube video published today, he has been making big saves in training with his legs.
DID HIS HOMEWORK
Now Giels Brouwer, who works for analytics company SciSports, has revealed how the Memphis Depay enlisted his help in quitting United.
Posting on Reddit, Brouwer explained: “Memphis made the first laptop transfer by asking us for transfer advice with data.
“The agent asked us to visit Memphis in Manchester where he was living at that moment.
“I went there with two colleagues and we watched a Champions League game on his couch.
“In our discussion about the next step in his career, he was really open about what he wanted and didn't want.
“He wanted to play ‘more freely’, he wanted to be ‘important for the team’ and wanted to play in a big five competition with a coach that had a clear playing style.”
MASTERS OF NONE
Richard Masters says there is still work to do as the government gives its thumbs up to the return of sport, after nearly two months of negotiations.
The Prem chief exec said: “All major sports, including the Premier League, have been working together with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport to produce this Stage Three protocol.
“We could not have reached this point without the full support of the Government, especially DCMS, Public Health England and the Chief Medical Officer’s team.
“We have provisionally planned to restart the Premier League on 17 June, but there is still much work to be done to ensure the safety of everyone involved.
“This includes consulting with our clubs, players and managers – along with all our other stakeholders – as the health and welfare of our participants and supporters is our priority.
“If all goes well, we will be thrilled to resume the 2019/20 season in just over two weeks’ time.”
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer proved he still has a fine finish during United training.
In a video released by the club on YouTube, where Marcus Rashford provides a delightful flick during a passing drill, Solskjaer smashes a trademark finish into the far top corner.
He certainly hit a few of those during his decade-long United career.
Confusion surrounds the need to use neutral venues for Premier League games after statements from two key police forces on Friday.
They come after UK's football policing lead, Deputy Chief Constable Mark Roberts of South Yorkshire Police, had earlier suggested games would be moved at local forces' request.
At least five top-flight matches have been earmarked to be played at neutral venues, plus any further games where Liverpool could win the title.
Among the games picked out were the Merseyside derby, Liverpool's clash away to Manchester City and Manchester United's home match against Sheffield United.
Merseyside Police later said there were no objections from the force to holding games at Goodison Park or Anfield in relation to crime and disorder, while Greater Manchester Police said a decision on moving high-risk games has yet to be taken.
Odion Ighalo is set to leave Manchester United TOMORROW unless the Red Devils can agree a dramatic late extension to his loan deal.
The Nigerian has already made a personal plea to Shanghai Shenhua to let him finish the season at Old Trafford, before returning to China.
SunSport previously reported that the striker's parent club have softened their stance on extending his six-month stay in England.
And boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has made it clear he wants the former Watford man to stick around until the end of the season.
According to BBC Sport, talks between United and Shanghai are continuing but the clock is ticking ahead of Sunday's deadline.
Ighalo looked relaxed as he arrived at Carrington training on Friday as he looks to get back to match fitness after lockdown.
Chicharito has revealed a row he had with Sir Alex Ferguson over missed chances… before it led to him scoring again.
Hernandez told Rio Ferdinand: “We were playing against Newcastle. I had a lot of options and he told me “you needed to score”.
“I wanted to say to him: “Do you think I wanted to miss those options?
“I want to score them, of course! I don’t want to miss them”.
“I remember I then scored a goal, they went to kick it out and I just covered it it, it hit my thigh and it went in.
“I didn’t even celebrate. I was completely pissed off.”
On Moyes getting rid of Sir Alex's coaching staff and brining in his own, Chicharito said: “They brought David Moyes.
“It’s not about being a good or a bad coach or his ideas – I’m not going to question that.
“The problem is, I don’t understand how it’s possible that you’re not that humble or not clever enough to maintain or at least half of what you’re succeeding, the way he was doing it because he’s the greatest of all time.
“That’s why he lasted the seven months he lasted.
“He was so stubborn and he didn’t have that adaptability and that growth acceptance. You need to grow to be in United.”
JAV SOME OF THAT
Javier Hernandez reckons David Moyes' appointment stalled his and many other United stars' careers… despite the Scot managing him at West Ham a few years later.
He told Rio Ferdinand in the Locker Room: “To be honest, we didn’t have any thing personal – Moyes and myself – but it was a mistake that they took him. It was a mistake.
“That was the first mistake that it’s still haunting – not because of him, he’s not a bad manager, but they thought they were going to take the replacement of the boss, of Sir Alex so quick. It’s impossible!
“Not until now. Even Guardiola and Klopp and Mourinho are not at the level of Sir Alex yet.
“They’re on the way trying to get there. Or Cruyff, those kinds of managers. They’re not there but they’re trying to achieve that.
“That changed some United careers that could have been better. Rafael, myself, Welbeck, Fabio, too – a lot of players that we need to go away to play.”
Alexis Sanchez WILL complete the rest of the season with Inter Milan.
The Chilean has been exiled to Italy by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, where his form has continued to be up and down under demanding Antonio Conte.
Sporting director Piero Ausilio said: “We want to keep everyone, including Alexis Sanchez.
“We are counting on him in the coming months.
“He was out injured for quite a while, but he did well before that in matches against Barcelona and Sampdoria.
“I saw the Sanchez from his best campaigns in Udine and Arsenal.
“He didn’t have a lot of time, but he now has the chance to show his value and then we will make a decision on him.”
CARS 'N STARS
United stars returned to training with Bruno Fernandes arriving in his Mini and midfield partner Paul Pogba driving a yellow Ferrari.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's Champions League chasing side linked up again after Premier League teams were given the go-ahead to resume training together.
And they arrived in full force as they pulled into Carrignton, led by skipper Harry Maguire.
Manager Solskjaer provided United with a massive boost after confirming Marcus Rashford and Paul Pogba – who was pictured training with Fernandes for the first time – are fit again.
SEE MORE PICTURES OF UNITED ARRIVING AT TRAINING HERE
Federico Bernardeschi could be primed for a move to the Premier League this summer, according to reports in Italy.
Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal are thought to have the winger on their radar ahead of a crucial couple of months in his Juventus career.
Since Maurizio Sarri's arrival at the start of the season, Bernardeschi has featured less prominently than under former boss Massimiliano Allegri.
And he may soon find himself surplus to requirements – particularly with promising midfielder Dejan Kulusevski arriving from Parma.
According to La Gazzetta dello Sport, Bernardeschi will want a move to England if he leaves Juventus.
The 26-year-old reportedly feels ready to test himself in a new country and Premier League clubs are lining up to make an offer.
HOMER'S WHERE THE HEART IS
United might have an inkling that Jadon Sancho will join them this summer – but one thing for certain is the superstar forward has two new inkings to add to his growing collection.
The Borussia Dortmund winger has gone for a tattoo of The Simpsons leading man Homer surrounded by Bart, Maggie and Marge plus Sega stalwart Sonic the Hedgehog.
He showed off the inkings during training at his German club.
The England star has previously revealed the message behind the poignant poem tattoo he has, which is dedicated to the baby brother he lost when he was just five-years-old and serves as his inspiration.
WHAT ARE THE CHANCES?
Leicester and Chelsea are favourites to clinch Premier League top four spots.
Leicester (1-7) and Chelsea (8-13) are odds on to clinch top four spots, with Manchester United (7-4), Wolves (7-1), Tottenham (10-1), Sheffield United (12-1) and Arsenal (14-1) in the chasing pack, according to Coral.
Norwich (1-20), Aston Villa (2-5) and Bournemouth (4-5) are all odds on with leading bookmaker Coral to be relegated from the Premier League this season.
Birmingham boss Pep Clotet has spoken out about Jude Bellingham amid Manchester United's interest in the youngster.
“What I'm very happy about now is that Jude is here with us and all the players are here with us as well,” Clotet told Sky Sports.
“We focus on that really, but I understand there's going to be more speculation when the games do come back.
“As a head coach, I don't deal with transfers, it's the club. But I can imagine the situation has all the clubs very worried about how to finish this season and what impact this season has into next season.
“That can change a lot of the future of the clubs. Possibly it's going to be a busy summer, possibly it's going to be less busy, we still don't know what impact it will have.”
IGHALO CLOCK TICKING
Odion Ighalo is set to leave Manchester United TOMORROW when his contract expires, unless a late extension can be reached with Shanghai Shenhua.
The Manchester Evening News say Ighalo has made a personal plea to the Chinese club asking them to let him finish the season at United before returning to China.
Earlier this week, the Nigerian's agent Ladi Salami said an agreement to extend his loan was close, despite the fact Shanghai expect the striker back ahead of the new Chinese Super League season kicking off in July.
Dimitar Berbatov has told Manchester United not to get involved in a bidding war for Barcelona star Philippe Coutinho.
“Other people will see him linked with a move to United and they will point out his connections with Liverpool and how he would never be forgiven if he switched to Old Trafford, but honestly, United don’t need him right now,” the Bulgarian said.
“Bruno Fernandes is a very similar player; he really hit the ground running and looks to be a very promising signing so I don’t think there would be any point in United signing him.
“Pogba is coming back, Fernandes is there, McTominay is producing great football as well, they have enough quality there so signing Coutinho would be pointless.”
Borussia Dortmund are demanding £100million for Jadon Sancho and will not budge on their price despite coronavirus' impact on finances across football.
According to Goal.com, Sancho is keen on a move to one of the Premier League's biggest clubs and has no intention of renewing his contract which expires in 2022.
Manchester United and Chelsea are leading the race for the talented 20-year-old, who is one of the highest-rated youngsters in the game.
Sancho has scored 14 goals and provided 16 assists from just 21 Bundesliga starts this season, but recently has made most of his appearances from the bench as he struggles with injury.
FERNANDES V MATIC
Bruno Fernandes hit back at Nemanja Matic after his Man Utd team-mate had a dig at him about Benfica being better than Sporting Lisbon.
Matic's old side Benfica are top of the Portuguese Primeira Liga with an 18-point gap over Sporting, who Fernandes joined United from in January.
While enjoying a socially-distanced spin on exercise bikes, Matic stretched out and joked: “There is always a distance between Benfica and Sporting.”
But Fernandes got his own back the next day after leading his team to victory in a training match.
“Nemanja Matic, is always a distance between the winning team and your team,” he wrote on Instagram.
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CROUCH TOUCH ENGAGE
Peter Crouch has opened up on the rivalry between England's players from Manchester United and Liverpool in the 2000s.
“I’ve never played in a fixture [Liverpool v Man Utd] that had such hatred around it,” he told the Daily Mail. “I was on the bench the day Gary Neville ran the length of the pitch to celebrate in front of Liverpool’s fans in January 2006 and the depth of feeling in the stadium was incredible.
“It was the same at Anfield the following month when I scored to knock United out The FA Cup.
“It was never openly hostile in the tunnel but you could feel the tension as soon as you got to the stadium. We knew the players from England, of course, and there was never anything but respect from Gary, Paul Scholes and Wayne Rooney to Stevie Gerrard, Carra and myself.
“You could never really get on with them, though. There is a picture of me going up for a challenge with Rio Ferdinand and I’ve got my fist clenched – it looks like I’m trying to lamp him!
“It was so intense and, as the years have gone by, I believe that intensity has faded from the fixture.”
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