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…
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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@nemanjamatic is always a distance between the winning team and your team ??
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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.”
MORNING, UNITED FANS
United top Jadon Sancho's wishlist should he leave Borussia Dortmund – with Dean Henderson a shock makeweight loan in a £100million-plus deal.
That's the speculation over the past 24 hours as arguably football's most-wanted Englishman is again at the centre of more rumours.
The Manchester Evening News suggest England attacker Sancho, 20, would choose United ahead of other Premier League giants, plus the pick of the continent.
The MEN also claim Old Trafford chiefs would be interested in keeper Henderson, such a loan star with Sheffield United, spending a season with Dortmund.
That would help to lower the overall fee for Sancho.
Meanwhile, United are being linked with Monaco's injury-hit starlet Pietro Pellegri.
The Italian striker, 19, has played just six games and netted only once since joining the Ligue 1 giants from Genoa for £18million in January 2018.
Inter Milan have confirmed United striker Alexis Sanchez will stay until the end of the extended Serie A season to try to earn a permanent deal.
Meanwhile, United's England midfielder Jesse Lingard claims his form has suffered in the past season and a half as he failed to set personal goals.
He said: “I wanted to start fresh and come back with the right mindset and right attitude and that’s what I’ve done.”
“Trophies are the main thing and individual targets like goals and assists.
“Last season, for some reason, I didn’t set any targets… I’m going to have goals that I need to hit, individually and as a team as well.”
JOSE FEARS INJURIES
Jose Mourinho fears Project Restart will bring pre-season problems to June.
The Premier League campaign, suspended since March 13, will resume on June 17.
Tottenham boss Mourinho cannot wait for top-flight football to return but said: “We have to be ready for problems now because this is pre-season, and pre-season brings problems.
“The players have had a long time without playing, without even training on the pitch, without competing, so now the players are back, I can’t imagine it’s going to be different for us.
“We have to be very careful with the players’ welfare, and this pre-season is probably more difficult than other pre-seasons, because they come from a long period without training.
“We don’t know how we’re going to arrive for the first match.”
Tottenham will restart the season with a ‘home’ clash against Manchester United.
PROJECT RESTART 'NOT PERFECT'
SunSport columnist Karren Brady says clubs have to accept Project Restart “won't be perfect” if they want the season finished.
The West ham vice-chairman says: “It’s a delicate balance.
“But if we want to finish this season, we are all going to have to accept a restart won’t be perfect.
“There are obvious and genuine concerns about what happens to your match results if your club has a number of players testing positive for coronavirus, or in self-isolation.
And as a result you simply cannot field your usual or strongest starting XI. Or what if other teams play a weakened first XI by choice when they have nothing to play for, or they want to give their first-team players a longer break.
“Or they simply want to protect players from catching the virus, and that ends up skewing results? Or what if your manager tests positive, as Arsenal’s did back in March?”
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 strikerhas 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.
YOUTH NOT SEEN ANYTHING LIKE IT
Man Utd were once told by pundit Alan Hansen in 1995 that they'd never win anything with kids.
But after winning a further 11 Premier League titles, Sir Alex Ferguson could afford a smug smile – while Hansen was left with egg on his face.
Here's how Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's youthful side could soon look, perhaps even next season.
OLE OUT TO GET PIET
United are being linked with Monaco's injury-hit starlet Pietro Pellegri.
The Italian striker, 19, has been jinxed by fitness concerns since joining the Ligue 1 giants from Genoa for £18million in January 2018.
But despite only six games and one goal for the French club, Sky Sports Italia believe Ole Gunnar Solskjaer rates Pellegri as a potential bargain in the long-term.
MAYOR'S FAN FEARS
London Mayor Sadiq Khan admits he is worried about fans turning up outside games and spreading Covid-19 when the Premier League restarts.
He told LBC Radio: “ Even though I'm a south Londoner, I support Liverpool and that's why a small part of my brain is keen for us to return.
“But actually the bigger part of my brain is saying safety is what matters.
“I am concerned about any action that could inadvertently lead to the virus spreading.
“I know, human nature as it is, fans will turn up to see the coach arriving, to listen to the atmosphere – the players inside the stadium even though they're not allowed in, to see the coach leaving, to buy t-shirts and scarves. So police and councils need to enforce the rules.
“The overwhelming measures to social distancing are still there.
“We can't have fans congregating around the stadiums… It's really important clubs work with police and others to make sure we get this right.”
LUCA TO THE FUTURE
Italian centre-back Luca Ercolani has a greed a one-year contract extension after stand-out form for United's academy side
The 20-year-old joined from Serie D side Forli in 2016 following a successful trial and went on to make six appearances for the academy in his debut season.
He has since become an important part of the youth side becoming a mainstay in the team until he suffered a ruptured cruciate ligament injury.
Ercolani's contract was due to expire this summer but the club opted to trigger a one-year extension, according to journalist Simon Peach.
United will be keen to nurse Ercolani back to full fitness before looking into the possibility of sending him out on loan next season.
Everton are reportedly lining up a shock move for ex-United target Diego Godin.
The Uruguay centre-back, 34, has failed to impress during his debut season for Iner Milan following a free transfer from Atletico Madrid last summer.
Antonio Conte’s Serie A title hopefuls were delighted to secure Godin thanks to Atletico’s vast rebuilding project.
But the Uruguayan looked less than convincing in his 25 appearances and was eventually fazed out of Conte’s three-man defence by youngster Alessandro Bastoni.
Calciomercato now claims Inter are ready to let Godin move on this summer.
And it’s reckoned Everton are shock frontrunners for the veteran’s signature.
POGBA LOVES UTD BUT WANTS TO PROVE HOW GOOD HE IS
Paul Pogba loves Manchester United but his need to prove he can play at the top saw him leave once – and it could happen again, says Dimitar Berbatov.
The Bulgarian striker was at Old Trafford when Pogba was a youngster, before the Frenchman quit for Juventus in 2012.
Berbatov told Betfair: “People say he should have stayed at United and developed playing under Sir Alex Ferguson…
“In the end he didn't get much of a chance to play and his desire to play more football was the reason he went to Juventus in my opinion.
“He went to Juventus and he was unbelievable, the goals he scored, the way he clicked with the players around him was great.
“He was always meant to come back to United because I think he loves it there and he associates himself with English football – the way the training is, the way the games are and the culture of it.”
Jadon Sancho would prefer a move to Manchester United over any other club, writes the Manchester Evening News.
However, the paper suggests that Dortmund's demands of a £100m-plus fee may no longer be realistic due to the coronavirus outbreak.
And the MEN state that if the Red Devils choose to loan out Dean Henderson for another season, which is reportedly the plan, Dortmund could be the ideal destination in order to drive the fee for Sancho down.
The German side are reportedly unconvinced with current goalkeeper Roman Burki, who is said to be a target for Chelsea.
LINGARD MISSED TARGETS
United and England midfielder Jesse Lingard claims his form suffered last season because he failed to set personal goals.
He said: “Trophies are the main thing and individual targets like goals and assists.
“Last season, for some reason, I didn’t set any targets. This season I’m going to have targets, I’m going to have goals that I need to hit, individually and as a team as well.
“I wanted to start fresh and come back with the right mindset and right attitude and that’s what I’ve done.”
SANCHO UNDER STRAIN
Borussia Dortmund midfielder Thomas Delaney claims Jadon Sancho is starting to feel the pressure of transfer speculation linking him with clubs like Manchester United and Chelsea.
Denmark star Delaney feels the England attacker, 20, could be suffering from the huge expectation over his performances.
With an outstanding total of 17 goals and 20 assists this season, Sancho is yet to score since Bundesliga's return from the coronavirus shutdown – owing largely to a calf injury restricting his game time.
Delaney described Sancho to ESPN as: “Clearly, one of the biggest talents that I've played with.
“With that talent comes a lot of pressure, and I think he slowly starts to feel that from the England national team and clubs surrounding him now.
“Up until this point he's been a talent performing very well, performing better than what he is expected to do, but there was always going to be a next step, and that's going to be interesting – the next step in his career and his development.”
IT'S A GOOD GIGG
Ryan Giggs picked out Manchester United top target Jadon Sancho when naming the top three young players in the world.
Speaking to Laureus, the 46-year-old said: “I've seen him [Rashford] coming through the ranks, such a talented player.
“And you have Jadon Sancho at Dortmund, a young player who's made the bold decision to leave Manchester City and go to another country at a young age.
“And he really has made a difference.
“His team-mate as well, Erling Haaland who's scoring lots of goals.”
WHAT THE FLICK?!
Marcus Rashford stunned Bruno Fernandes and Angel Gomes with an back-heeled pass in training.
The England international flicked it back inside during training at Carrington with this lovely little number.
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This pass from @marcusrashford in training is a joke ??? (@risingballers) . Via @manchesterunited
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NEV HAILS PARISH
Gary Neville has hailed Crystal Palace chairman Steve Parish for giving the Premier League some much-needed transparency over Project Restart.
The former Man Utd defender said: “In the initial phase, I thought the Premier League would come back – I was 100 per cent sure.
“And then about four or five weeks ago, the lack of communication and leadership I felt cast doubt over everything.
“I do feel a big moment was Crystal Palace chairman Steve Parish coming out and speaking.
“It took courage and bravery from him to do that and it was against the grain at the time.
“He was the first person to come out with any real authority and speak in such a way that made sense about how the game could restart.”
MAKING A STAND
The Premier League have confirmed they WILL use neutral venues on police advice, as we reported earlier.
A statement reads: “The Premier League’s ambition is to complete all of our remaining fixtures this season home and away, where possible.
“We are working with our clubs to ensure all risks are assessed and minimised, while co-operating with the police at a local and national level.
“Discussions with the National Police Chiefs’ Council and UK Football Policing Unit have been positive and are continuing.
“We are prepared for all outcomes and have a neutral venue contingency.”
ON THIS DAY
It is 52 years ago to the day that Manchester United became the first English team to win the European Cup.
A decade after the Munich Air Disaster, this still goes down as one of the greatest achievements in English football history.
Check out this wonderful footage from that historic 4-1 win over Benfica, thanks to goals from Charlton, Best and Kidd.
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