Manchester United ‘Leading Kai Havertz Race’ After Real Madrid Drop Out

Bayer 04 Leverkusen v Eintracht Frankfurt - Bundesliga
Bayer 04 Leverkusen v Eintracht Frankfurt – Bundesliga | Jörg Schüler/Getty Images

So, you know how clubs don’t have loads of money this summer because of the coronavirus outbreak and teams are ready to slow down their spending? Well, that hasn’t stopped Manchester United being linked with both Borussia Dortmund’s Jadon Sancho and Bayer Leverkusen’s Kai Havertz.

Sancho is one of United’s top targets for the summer window, and although the Red Devils are no longer willing to break the £100m barrier to sign him, they are still confident of getting a deal done.

Jadon SanchoJadon Sancho
SC Paderborn 07 v Borussia Dortmund – Bundesliga | Lars Baron/Getty Images

The fact that United are ready to lower their bid for Sancho should prove to you that they don’t have infinite money these days, but The Sun believe that the Red Devils plan to use that spare money to land Havertz – probably the second-most in-demand star around – as well. Sigh.

Havertz is wanted by pretty much every European giant, with Chelsea, Liverpool, Barcelona and Bayern Munich all keen on the 20-year-old, but The Sun seem to believe that it is United who are ‘leading the race’ to sign him.

To make matters worse, the report claims that United are ready to start the bidding at just £50m, so how they can be ‘leading the race’ when they’re trying to pay slightly over half of what Leverkusen want is anyone’s guess.

As the story goes, United want Sancho on the right of their attack, Havertz on the left (a position which he has barely ever played) and Marcus Rashford (the actual winger) in the centre, because Anthony Martial has obviously faded into oblivion while football has been postponed.

United are keen on striking deals for Aston Villa’s Jack Grealish and Birmingham City’s Jude Bellingham this summer, so finding a spare £80m or so to throw at Leverkusen is probably going to be a little too tough this summer.

One team who don’t plan on bidding for Havertz is Real Madrid. According to Marca, the German was high on their wish list before the coronavirus outbreak, but their limited finances have forced them to postpone a move.

With the likes of Dortmund’s Erling Haaland and Rennes’ Eduardo Camavinga in their sights, Real have accepted that shelling out for Havertz simply isn’t possible this summer.

They would like to try and recruit the German next summer, but that would only be feasible if he doesn’t leave Leverkusen. With so many elite sides plotting bids to sign him in the coming months, it seems like Real have accepted defeat on this one.

If only they had the seemingly infinite pool of money which The Sun believe United have.

For more from ?Tom Gott, follow him on ?Twitter!

Let’

Project Restart: Clubs Pushing to Scrap Relegation, Fake Crowd Noise to Be Played During Games & More

Arsenal FC v West Ham United - Premier League
Arsenal FC v West Ham United – Premier League | Alex Morton/Getty Images

We’ve hit June now, and that means the Premier League is coming back this month. The light at the end of the tunnel is here.

However, before we get too ahead of ourselves, there are still a few issues which need to be ironed out, including what to do if the season ends up getting cancelled or how to ensure matches aren’t uncomfortable to watch for viewers.

Let’s take a look at what has been said.

The idea of scrapping relegation has long been discussed ever since football was postponed, and while it’s not currently in the pipeline, there are believed to be plenty of sides who would vote to scrap the drop if the season cannot finish as normal.

An unnamed club owner told Sky Sports: We would vote for no relegation if the season is curtailed. There are up to 10 clubs who think the same thing.”

EFL chairman Rick Parry has threatened legal action if promotion and relegation are scrapped this summer, so there’s still a lot of work to do to convince the powers that be that this is a good idea.

Now that teams have returned to contact training, the focus is firmly on getting ready for a return to competitive action.

According to The Times, several Premier League clubs are planning in-house 11-a-side friendlies at their own empty stadiums to help players get used to playing without a crowd.

Any team who wishes to do so will have to complete a risk assessment before holding a training session at their stadium.

Tottenham Hotspur v Newcastle United - Premier LeagueTottenham Hotspur v Newcastle United - Premier League
Tottenham Hotspur v Newcastle United – Premier League | Julian Finney/Getty Images

With football set to stretch over into the summer, the Premier League are ready to bring back water breaks during games to ensure players stay hydrated.

The Sun note that medical staff are concerned by the prospect of playing so much football during the hot summer months, so the hope is to introduce breaks in both halves of every game to keep players as safe as possible.

The main stumbling block is that every player would need their own bottle to ensure they are not spreading the coronavirus, and there are fears that this could take up too much time during matches.

Manchester United v Manchester City - Premier LeagueManchester United v Manchester City - Premier League
Manchester United v Manchester City – Premier League | Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

One common issue with playing behind closed doors is the lack of atmosphere and how that will impact both the players and the viewers at home. Well, there might be a solution to that.

The Daily Mail state that clubs will all be asked to vote on whether to broadcast crowd noise from the video game FIFA 20 during games to try and simulate the atmosphere of a full stadium. Fans would have the option to turn it on and off during broadcasts.

There are also several other plans under consideration, including fan mosaics, 360° replays and a new tactical camera – all of which are expected to be approved without any real opposition.

The Telegraph have revealed that any player who tests positive for coronavirus during the next round of testing faces missing the first round of fixtures.

The ‘return to play’ protocol means that any player with the virus must wait two weeks before returning to group training, meaning that there is very little chance that anybody who tests positive will be back in time for the restart.

There were no cases discovered during the latest round of testing, and the hope is obviously to see the same result from the upcoming round.

BRITAIN-HEALTH-VIRUS-FBL-ENG-PR-EVERTONBRITAIN-HEALTH-VIRUS-FBL-ENG-PR-EVERTON
BRITAIN-HEALTH-VIRUS-FBL-ENG-PR-EVERTON | PAUL ELLIS/Getty Images

For a stadium to be used to finish the season, it must meet a number of safety regulations. Clubs are busy securing their stadiums in anticipation for the restart, but the Daily Mail state that some older stadiums are struggling to do so.

In more compact stadiums, finding ways to abide by social distancing guidelines may not be too simple, with Goodison Park, Turf Moor, Vicarage Road and Selhurst Park all predicted to need ‘extensive work’ if they are to be ready for the return date of 17 June.

It is expected that every side will be happy to do whatever it takes to bring football back, even if some end up needing to spend plenty of money to get up to standard.

For more from ?Tom Gott, follow him on ?Twitter!

Let’

Agent Offers Update on Futures of Arsenal’s David Luiz & Chelsea’s Willian

Willian, David Luiz
Arsenal FC v Chelsea FC – Premier League | Julian Finney/Getty Images

The agent of Arsenal defender David Luiz has confirmed that the Brazilian wants to stay at the Emirates Stadium and the chances are ‘very high’ that a deal will be agreed.

It was recently revealed that Luiz signed a one-year deal following his switch from Chelsea last summer, rather than the widely-reported two-year contract – so he is currently set to become a free agent once the season comes to a close.

David LuizDavid Luiz
Arsenal FC v Olympiacos FC – UEFA Europa League Round of 32: Second Leg | DeFodi Images/Getty Images

Speaking to Sky Sports News, agent Kia Joorabchian revealed he believes that both Luiz and Arsenal will want to find an agreement before the season ends, but talks will only resume once the current coronavirus crisis calms down.

“He’s very happy at Arsenal,” Joorabchian said. “He has an extremely good relationship with both the coach and the sporting director. He has good relationships all throughout the club, right up to the owner. He respects everybody.

“These contract situations, these renewals, if he stays or if he goes… will all sort themselves out when we get back to some kind of ‘new’ normal [after coronavirus].

“David will sit down with Arsenal before the season begins, have his conversations and they will both decide if he will stay or not. That will come before the season starts. The chances are very high [of Luiz being at Arsenal next season].

“There is no desire to leave. But again, we are going to live in a ‘new’ normal, we will have to see what Arsenal’s position will be. But I believe there is a wish from both sides to continue.”

Joorabchian also took the opportunity to talk about another of his clients, Chelsea winger Willian. The Blues’ talks with the 31-year-old have broken down over a disagreement over the length of contract proposed, with Chelsea wanting two and Willian pushing for thre -, and Joorabchian confirmed that an agreement is far from being reached.

WillianWillian
Chelsea FC v Everton FC – Premier League | Robin Jones/Getty Images

“Before the pandemic occurred, the negotiations were around two and three years,” he added. “Chelsea have a policy which we respect and understand but Willian has a career and he has ambition.

“He wants to finish his playing career at a very high level.”

For more from ?Tom Gott, follow him on ?Twitter!

Let’

Newcastle Could Spend Up to £200m on Transfers Without Facing FFP Sanctions

The Newcastle United Club Crest
Visionhaus/Getty Images

What do Newcastle United and your aunt who just won £400 on a scratch card have in common?

They’re both set to come into a bit of money, and will probably spend it recklessly.

If you haven’t heard, the Magpies – pending Premier League clearance – are about to be released from the clutches of Mike Ashley, and taken over controversially by the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund. Though there are still some hurdles to overcome…

Their prospective new owners are just a little bit ambitious. However, while they have been linked with Gareth Bale and Philippe Coutinho among an extensive list of unlikely transfer targets, there have been some dissenting voices who have suggested they will be unable to spend so lucratively while keeping within FIFA’s notorious Financial Fair Play regulations.

The Shields Gazette believe they have debunked any such claims, however, as university lecturer and Price of Football author Kieran Maguire – not an expert, according to his Twitter bio – says their thrifty spending in previous windows means they have a cushion to go big under their potential new leaders.

“I’ve crunched the numbers and NUFC have an FFP profit of around £82m over the past two seasons to the end of 2018/19. The allowable loss is £105million over a three-year period,” Maguire is quoted as saying.

“Assuming the new owners sign players on four-year deals, they could spend anywhere between £150-200m in one window or a season and still stay within the Premier League limit.

“There is little love towards Mike Ashley – and rightly so – but he’s leaving a financial legacy that is attractive to any rich successor.”

Wouldn’t it just be ironic if the stingy spending of Ashley – so fervently criticised by the Magpies fanbase – ended up being the very thing that facilitates the signing of Ousmane Dembele or something equally stupid?

It probably won’t be, but it’s worth a thought.

For more from Robbie Copeland, follow him on Twitter!

Let’

EFL Announce Championship to Return From 20 June

Huddersfield Town v Leeds United - Sky Bet Championship
William Early/Getty Images

The EFL have announced that the Championship will return from Saturday 20 June, provided it is safe to do so.

The UK government announced over the weekend that top-level sporting events are allowed to return behind closed-doors, effectively greenlighting the Premier League’s plans to return from Wednesday 17 June.

And the plan is now to resume the Championship season – in which no matches have taken place since 8 March due to the COVID-19 lockdown – from the following weekend.

An EFL statement reads: “Following Saturday’s announcement by the Government to allow elite sporting events to return behind closed doors, the EFL has this weekend agreed to a provisional restart date of the weekend of 20 June 2020 for matches in the Sky Bet Championship.

“The date is subject to the strict proviso that all safety requirements and Government guidance is met; and that Clubs receive clearance from their local authorities in order to stage matches at their home grounds.

“After discussing various approaches, and, the importance of completing the season in a similar timeline to that of the Premier League to avoid any potential issues with promoted and relegated Clubs, the Sky Bet Championship season is set to conclude with the Championship Play-Off Final on or around 30 July 2020.

“Final details are still to be confirmed following further discussions with the League’s Broadcast partner, Sky Sports.

“During the weekend’s discussions it was further agreed to consider changing Regulations to permit the use of five substitutes in the remaining fixtures and, also increasing the matchday squad from 18 to 20 players. Discussions will continue with Championship Clubs in this respect.”

It’s unclear as yet if the other two EFL divisions will follow suit, but there are concerns about the feasibility of Leagues One and Two resuming with no gate income.

Let’