Liverpool stars handed boost as Premier League gives contact training go ahead

Liverpool stars ramped up their training regime on Wednesday after the Premier League confirmed that full contact will now be allowed.

The Premier League champions elect recently returned to training at Melwood but were adhering to strict guidelines put in place to ensure safety – one of which was maintaining social distancing protocols.

Jurgen Klopp's side are just a matter of points away from sealing a first top-flight title in 30 years.

And they seemed in the mood at Melwood as the likes of Virgil van Dijk, Roberto Firmino and Adam Lallana all appeared in high spirits during a session in the Merseyside sunshine.

The session came after the Reds and their fellow Premier League clubs voted unanimously to resume contact training, as 'Project Restart' took a giant step forwards.

After starting with small, socially-distanced training sessions, players and managers from the 20 top-flight clubs were briefed on proposals for the reintroduction of contact training on Wednesday.

The matter was voted on the following day by Premier League shareholders and has been given the green light as a mid-June return edges closer.

In a statement, the league said: "Premier League shareholders today voted unanimously to resume contact training, marking another step towards restarting the Premier League season, when safe to do so.

"Squads are now able to train as a group and engage in tackling while minimising any unnecessary close contact.

"The Premier League's priority is the health and wellbeing of all participants.

"Strict medical protocols are in place to ensure the training ground is the safest environment possible and players and staff will continue to be tested for Covid-19 twice a week.

"Stage Two of the Return to Training protocol has been agreed following consultation with clubs, players, managers, the PFA, LMA and the Government.

"Discussions are ongoing as work continues towards resuming the season, when conditions allow."

Liverpool are 25 points clear of second-place Manchester City having played a game more.

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Newcastle star urged to snub transfer amid £300m takeover and spending spree

Newcastle star Jonjo Shelvey has been urged to snub a move away from St James’ Park by Paul Robinson. The former Premier League goalkeeper says the midfielder could be part of something special at Newcastle as their £300m takeover draws closer.

Shelvey has been linked with a switch to West Ham ahead of the summer transfer window.

Hammers boss David Moyes is said to be an admirer of the 28-year-old.

However, Robinson says Shelvey should stay put with Newcastle’s takeover drawing closer.

When asked whether Shelvey should join West Ham, Robinson told Football Insider: “I think it could be a great time to be part of things at Newcastle. He should at least give himself the opportunity to be part of things.

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“West Ham’s future is far from sealed at the moment. If the league is to be restarted they have got a real perilous set of fixtures.

“If they were to be relegated then it is a different proposition for Jonjo Shelvey.

“Does he want to be part of a Newcastle that are heading in the right direction if the takeover was to happen or does he want to end up in the Championship with West Ham?

“It will be very dependent on the end of the season.”

Newcastle fans are hoping their £300m takeover is completed in the coming days.

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Toon owner Mike Ashley has agreed to sell the club to PCP Capital Partners, an organisation backed by the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia.

However, it emerged on Tuesday night that a new court ruling could scupper the deal.

The World Trade Organisation ruled Saudi Arabia is behind a pirate satellite TV and streaming service, leaving the takeover in jeopardy.

They ruled the Saudi government is behind beoutQ, which offers illegal streams to sporting events, including Premier League games.

The likes of Fifa, Uefa, the Premier League, La Liga have tried to take action against beoutQ, however, the copyright cases were unsuccessful.

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Following the claims, a subsequent case was taken to the WTO, who ruled Saudi Arabia is in breach of international law.

The ruling could see Newcastle’s proposed new owners fail the Premier League’s owners’ and directors’ test.

Newcastle were tipped to splash the cash in the summer transfer window if their takeover was completed.

The Toon had been backed to sign Barcelona ace Philippe Coutinho, Gareth Bale of Real Madrid and Napoli centre-back Kalidou Koulibaly.

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RB Leipzig boss admits Werner is pondering future amid Liverpool interest

RB Leipzig boss Julian Nagelsmann admits Timo Werner is considering his future as links with Liverpool continue.

The German striker has enjoyed his most impressive season to date scoring 30 times for the Bundesliga outfit.

Leipzig have again challenged for the title and made the knockout stages of the Champions League for the first time.

Werner has been crucial to that success and has attracted Premier League interest with Liverpool thought to be heading the queue.

And Naglesmann is aware that the 24-year-old has a decision to make, but does not think it has been affecting his performances.

“He is in a good mood, feels good and trains well,” the Leipzig boss told SportBild.

“I do not have the impression that he is carrying a large cross with him. But he is a young guy who is sure to sit at home with his wife and ponder whether he will stay or change.

“When the question is in the room, you are always a little bit somewhere else. It was no different for me than when in Hoffenheim, it was about whether I go away.

“It is more obvious with strikers, because then there are phases in which they do not score.”

Werner scored a hat-trick at the weekend as Leipzig put five past Mainz.

That was a week after he'd failed to find the back of the net on the Bundesliga's return.

Liverpool themselves are considering adding more attacking players with speculation continuing over the futures of Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane.

Both have been linked with moves elsewhere which has led to the interest in Werner.

The German's style also lends itself to the system employed by Jurgen Klopp at Anfield.

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Jose Mourinho outlines Tottenham transfer plan with Premier League warning

Jose Mourinho insists the days of Premier League clubs spending “rivers of money” should be over because of the coronavirus.

Mourinho made it clear he expects Tottenham not to spend big in the transfer market and warned other clubs should also be respectful because of the financial difficulties cause by the pandemic.

Tottenham boss Mourinho is expected to have to deal in free transfers, loans and swap deals as football faces a serious wake-up call and the days of “crazy numbers” are over.

Mourinho told Sky: “What I would like in my club is what I know it will be. I would like it to be sensible, balanced and not spend rivers of money.

"We are trying to respect the situation not just of football but of the world and society overall.

“At the moment, it is the last thing we are thinking about. I read a few things, but I have no thoughts about it because it is the last thing we are thinking about at the moment.

“We are thinking about safety and following every rule outside the training ground. We want to be perfect – it is not just about testing, it is about everything in the club.

“But you have asked me and I am not going to run away from the question. It is normal that we will have a different market.

“I don't see the world and especially the football world being ready for some of the crazy numbers that we used to have. Some crazy investments at times. Some clubs and some leagues like ours, what they used to do.

“But the first question will be, when will the transfer window be? I don't think July and August, it will go further than that.”

Tottenham have only just moved into a new £1billion state-of-the-art stadium and chairman Daniel Levy has warned the club is facing its most difficult time during his reign.

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Sir Alex Ferguson read riot act to Ryan Giggs and Lee Sharpe over evening plans

Lee Sharpe has recalled how Sir Alex Ferguson stormed over to his house and gave him and Ryan Giggs a grilling.

The pair had been promoted to the Manchester United first-team as teenagers but the Scot kept a close eye on them.

They were prepping for a midweek night out that hadn't been given the green light by the manager.

And Ferguson ended up turning up at Sharpe's house before laying into him and Giggs.

"That was Giggs getting me into trouble again, he always got me into trouble," Sharpe told UTD Podcast.

"I’ve bought a new build house in Altrincham, Giggy’s still living at home with his mum, there’s a few apprentices, Giggsy rings me up, 'Oh, we’ll go out in Stockport, it’s Thursday night, we don’t play till Sunday, we’re fine'.

"I was like, 'Yeah, yeah, come down’. So about 10 o clock, the manager knocks on the door we’re thinking it’s a taxi driver. Giggsy’s mate answers the door with the only two bottles of beer I’ve got left in the house from the weekend before.

"And one of the lads runs upstairs to me and says, 'You’ll never guess what, the manager’s downstairs'. I’m like, 'No he’s not, no he’s not'.

"So, I’m putting the final touches on my barnet, so I peer over the stairs, manager’s got the face on with bits of froth at the corners of his mouth, 'Get these out the house I want a word with you and Giggs, get in that living room'.


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Chelsea ace Christian Pulisic sent Lukaku, De Bruyne, Salah message over Blues future

Chelsea winger Christian Pulisic could follow in the footsteps of Romelu Lukaku, Mohamed Salah and Kevin de Bruyne by walking away from Stamford Bridge in order to play consistent first-team football and continue his development. That’s the opinion of ex-USA international Herculez Gomez, who thinks Pulisic will have to fight for “everything” at Chelsea.

Pulisic had a mixed time during his first season at Stamford Bridge following his £57million move from Borussia Dortmund.

The young American made 16 appearances in the Premier League and had a decent spell in the starting XI before a muscle injury ended his campaign.

He was played primarily on either wing supporting lone striker Tammy Abraham, and popped up with four goals and two assists.

The Blues aren’t short of options out wide, and added to their attacking reinforcements by signing Hakim Ziyech from Ajax.

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And Gomez indicated that Pulisic could become the latest player to leave Chelsea after growing frustrated over a lack of playing time.

Lukaku, Salah and De Bruyne all left the club at an early age to get first-team football before becoming top players, and the ex-America striker hinted Pulisic could be next.

Speaking on ESPN FC, he said: “This is just life at a big club.

“Just to throw out some names you’ve got Lukaku, Salah, Kevin de Bruyne, Higuain, they’ve all made some sort of stop at Chelsea and then you’re gone.

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“If you can’t produce in that half-season or whatever they give you, that’s it and it’s on to the next. That’s life at a big club.

“If I’m Christian Pulisic, I’d never get comfortable, I have to fight for everything.”

However, ex-Chelsea player Craig Burley insisted that Pulisic will be a big part of Frank Lampard’s plans for next season.

He added: “I think they like him a lot and have seen glimpses.

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“But ultimately they want to see him over a full season.

“Frank Lampard didn’t pay a lot of money for him, it was the board who paid a lot of money for him. Lampard just inherited him.

“I think Lampard gave him ample opportunities after a slow start, and I think he saw glimpses of what Pulisic can do.

“I think Pulisic will play a big part next season, but he’ll have competition for places.”

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Ianis Hagi: Rangers close to permanent deal for Romanian midfielder

Rangers are closing in on a deal to sign Ianis Hagi from Genk on a permanent basis, and could complete his signing within the next 24 hours.

Genk claimed a permanent deal had been completed on Tuesday evening, before deleting the statement from their website.

The Romanian midfielder joined Rangers on loan in January, with Steven Gerrard’s side having an option to buy.

Despite Genk originally wanting around £4.5m for Hagi, the proposed deal will see Rangers pay £3m in instalments across three seasons.

Hagi scored three goals in 12 appearances for Rangers before the coronavirus pandemic halted the season.

Last week, Rangers confirmed the summer departure of six players, including popular midfielder Andy Halliday and former Liverpool full-back Jon Flanagan.

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Christian Mbulu dead: Morecambe defender dies suddenly aged 23

Morecambe defender Christian Mbulu has tragically died at the age of 23. Mbulu joined Morecambe after being released by Crewe Alexandra in January. The defender, who also had spells at Millwall and Motherwell, made three appearances for the League Two outfit this season.

Mbulu’s former Millwall team-mate Ben Thompson confirmed the tragic news on his Instagram on Tuesday evening.

On his Instagram story, Thompson wrote: “Lost for words. RIP brother.”

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PL’s TV plan includes back-to-back games and Champions League style format

Premier League games will return with a TV bonanza for armchair viewers.

It could see five matches shown live back-to-back every Saturday and the same on a Sunday with kick-offs starting at 12 noon, then 2pm, 4pm, 6pm and 8pm.

The Premier League are planning to get the majority of the remaining 92 games shown over the course of weekends to complete the fixture list which would mean the season runs into August.

But there is also a push from broadcasters to show games midweek in a Champions League style double-header format which could see them kick off at 6pm and 8pm.

The fixture list will be discussed in detail at Thursday’s Premier League meeting along with the plans for TV schedules as they want to find a balance between finishing the season quickly but to also spread out games for TV and to help clubs avoid injuries with a overcrowded fixture list.

Clubs are keen to accommodate the broadcasting demands as they face huge bills of £340m to pay back to TV companies even if the season is completed and a staggering £762m if they cannot play the remaining games.

The Premier League have got a “strategy for rebate minimisation” on Thursday’s agenda which means they will try to keep live rights holders Sky, BT Sport and Amazon happy.

Government officials have urged the Premier League to make some of the games free-to-air on terrestrial TV but the idea of BBC getting live games is unlikely to go down well with Sky and BT.

Sky and BT have the live rights to 47 games, the remaining 45 – which would all be shown by foreign rights holders – would be shared with Sky getting 32, BT would get eight, five to Amazon and the BBC.

Sky and BT Sport will be anxious to ensure that any subscribers who paused or cancelled during the coronavirus return with the promise of a bonanza of live football.

They are also likely to factor in the outstanding games as Manchester City have a game in hand against Arsenal and Aston Villa also have an extra game against Sheffield United.

The Football Association will also be determined to play out the FA Cup with all games set to be shown live and most could be played behind-closed-doors at Wembley.


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Odion Ighalo 'very close' to agreement with Manchester United, reveals agent

Odion Ighalo’s agent says his client is ‘very close’ to an agreement with Manchester United.

The Nigerian’s loan spell at Old Trafford expires this week and as yet United have not made a breakthrough in negotiations with parent club Shanghai Shenhua.

United had been confident of extending Ighalo’s deal but Shanghai favoured a permanent option and demanded in excess of £30m for the Nigerian.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer confirmed this morning that United remain in talks but Ighalo’s agent has revealed that an agreement is close.

‘On the one hand, the Super Eagle [Nigerian] feels very good in Manchester with which it is very close to a salary agreement,’ Ladi Salami told FootMercato.

‘Negotiations with the Chinese are ongoing and are going well. 

‘On the other hand, in view of the latest regulations in force in the Middle Empire, it is almost impossible to offer such amounts’.

Marcus Rashford’s recovery from a back fracture means United are relaxed about Ighalo’s future.

Nevertheless, the Nigerian has proved a valuable back-up player in recent months, scoring four times in nine appearances for the Reds.

United face a backlog of matches once the season returns and they’re fighting on three fronts with two trophies up for grabs in the Europa League and FA Cup.

But Solskjaer says he remains hopeful of a deal.

The loan deal went until the end of May now, so obviously he’s supposed to be going back,‘ said Solskjaer.

‘We’re in dialogue. They’ve been great towards us, his club, and allowed him to play for his dream club.

‘It’s been a dream for him and hopefully he can finish off what he started, hopefully with a trophy for us. At the moment, nothing has been agreed. Their league is going to get started soon so we’re just waiting to see.’

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