Pep Guardiola contacts former Arsenal flop as Man City prepare €50m bid

Pep Guardiola has contacted Milan midfielder Ismael Bennacer with Manchester City primed to launch a €50million bid.

The Algeria international has resurrected his career in Serie after he failed to make the grade during the course of a two-year spell in north London with Arsenal.

Indeed, Bennacer made just a solitary senior appearance during a League Cup defeat at Sheffield Wednesday before he was loaned out to Tours by Arsene Wenger.

The gifted playmaker subsequently moved to and excelled at Empoli last season and earned himself a move to San Siro where he has enjoyed another reputation enhancing campaign, despite Milan’s struggles.

City are on the brink of surrendering their Premier League title to Liverpool and although their spending power might be limited this summer, Guardiola is already making plans to rebuild a squad capable of challenging Jurgen Klopp’s relentless winning machine.

According to RMC, Guardiola has already spoken to the 22-year-old and outlined his vision for the player, who could team up with his compatriot Riyad Mahrez at the Etihad Stadium.

Despite failing to make an impact at Arsenal, Bennacer harbours no ill feeling towards his former club and earlier this week credited the likes of Mesut Ozil and Santi Cazorla with having a major impact on his career.

‘I arrived in England in July 2015, then stayed in a hotel for the first two months because I didn’t want to live with a family I didn’t know,’ he told La Gazzetta dello Sport magazine Sportweek.

‘I was 17 years old and couldn’t live on my own, so my sister came to live with me, then the girl I’d been dating since school who in England would go on to become my wife.

‘Finally, in September, I got some time on the pitch, but I was thrown on after two other injuries against Sheffield, played wide left in a trident attack, which I had never done before. I felt incredible pressure and wasn’t sure what was going on.

‘I never played again after that, but I have no regrets, as I still got to train with important players like Mesut Ozil and Santi Cazorla. I had four years left on the Arsenal contract, but I had to be at a club where they really wanted me.

‘I didn’t know Empoli, but I accepted a move down from the Premier League to Serie B because they were the club who wanted me the most. I did the same when deciding on Milan – I chose them for their history too, but also because it was the best project for me.’

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Man Utd star Bruno Fernandes gives emphatic verdict on playing with Paul Pogba

Manchester United star Bruno Fernandes has opened up on playing alongside Paul Pogba and has hailed the World Cup winner as ‘fantastic’. Red Devils fans are excited to see the two line up together at Old Trafford when the Premier League restarts.

Fernandes has been sensational since joining United in the January transfer window from Sporting Lisbon.

The Portuguese has netted twice and provided three assists in just five Premier League appearances for his new side.

And on Instagram he has opened up on his excitement to get going with Pogba for the remainder of the campaign.

“I think Paul is one of the best players in Manchester and in the world,” Fernandes said during an Instagram Live with Mario Djurovski.

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“He was injured for a lot of time.

“The opportunity to play side to side with him is fantastic because you want to play with the best players you can.”

Former United star Dimitar Berbatov thinks Pogba’s return to full fitness is undoubtedly a boost for the club but warns that a fruitful partnership between the World Cup winner and Fernandes could take more time.

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“Manchester United have had a huge boost in Paul Pogba returning to fitness. It is great news for the team,” Berbatov told Betfair.

“The dangerous thing is that he hasn’t played for so long, so hopefully he has prepared well and he will be ready to play at 100 percent again.

“Is he going to start? I’m not too sure, coming back from a long injury may impact him starting, it will be interesting to see if Solskjaer puts him straight into the battle. I’m sure if the manager asks Pogba how he feels and if he is ready, then Paul will say ‘of course I am ready.’

“It will be the first time we get to see Fernandes and Pogba play together and it will be interesting to see if they can hit it off, they will have had the chance to get to know each other in training but that is totally different to a game.

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“It could be a great partnership and I am sure that Pogba’s return is a massive boost and will give huge confidence to the whole team.

“One player doesn’t define a team, but when you have good, quality, confident players putting all their effort in to help the team then you are going to succeed.”

United currently sit fifth in the Premier League and will look to leapfrog Chelsea when the season restarts in a couple of weeks.

The Red Devils will be desperate to qualify for the Champions League as they look to add the likes of Jadon Sancho to their ranks this summer.

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Man City Champions League ban: CAS reveal when appeal verdict will finally be given

Manchester City could have to wait for two months before they find out if their Champions League ban has been overturned. The defending Premier League champions were handed a two-season ban from European competition in February.

City received the suspension, and a £25million fine, in February after they were adjudged to have broken Financial Fair Play rules.

The Etihad club immediately appealed the suspension, lobbying to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

City’s appeal is being heard by CAS this week, despite restrictions stemming from the coronavirus outbreak.

City are hoping to have a swift resolution to the hearing in order to give them time to prepare for the 2020/21 season.

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Manchester City receiveda two-year suspension from European competition in February

But according to the Daily Mirror, their wish won’t be granted.

They claim City could have to wait for two months to find out if they’ll be in next season’s Champions League.

Both UEFA and City are hoping for CAS to render their decision before the draw for next season’s tournament.

Should CAS uphold City’s ban, the fifth-placed Premier League side will qualify for Europe’s elite club competition.

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The upholding of City’s suspension has led to suggestions Guardiola could leave the club at the end of the season.

Guardiola, however, insists he’ll be at the Etihad at the start of the 2020/21 campaign.

He said: “We are going to fight like we have fought every single game and day we are together until the end of the season.

“We are optimistic that at the end the truth will prevail and next season we will be in the Champions League.

“If they don’t sack me I will stay here 100% more than ever. First, because I want to stay.

“It’s something special, more than the contract I have. I said before, I say now I want to stay and help the club and maintain this level as long as possible.’

He added: “Why should I leave? When I said I love this club I like to be here, why should I leave?

“No matter what happens I will be here next season.”

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EFL announce NINE positive coronavirus tests in the Championship

EFL announce NINE positive coronavirus tests out of 1,094 across SIX different Championship clubs – including Preston and Sheffield Wednesday – after the latest round of checks

  • A total of 1,094 players and staff were tested from all 24 Championship clubs
  • Sheffield Wednesday confirmed a staff member was one of those to test positive
  • The EFL have agreed a provisional date of June 20 for Championship to resume 
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Nine individuals from the Championship have tested positive for coronavirus in the latest round of testing in the EFL.

A total of 1,094 players and staff were tested in a four-day period ending on Tuesday, with the positive tests coming from six different clubs.

In League Two, where only the four clubs in the play-off places are participating, there were zero positive cases from a sample size of 126.

EFL has announced nine positive coronavirus tests in Championship across six different clubs

Anyone who has tested positive will enter self isolation in line with the guidelines provided by the EFL.

Sheffield Wednesday confirmed a staff member was one of those to test positive, with Preston saying they had returned one positive result too.

A statement by the EFL on Wednesday evening read: ‘Following the latest round of Covid-19 testing, the EFL can confirm that 1,094 players and club staff from the 24 Championship Clubs were tested over the course of Saturday 30 May, Sunday 31 May, Monday 1 June and Tuesday 2 June with nine individuals testing positive from six clubs.

‘Those players or club staff who have tested positive will now self-isolate in line with the guidelines provided by the EFL and only those who have tested negative will be permitted to enter training ground facilities.’

The EFL agreed a provisional date of June 20 for the Championship to resume earlier this week.

Championship clubs were permitted to begin contact training on Tuesday once they submitted updated policies to the EFL. Preston and league leaders Leeds United were among those teams to begin.  

Sportsmail exclusively revealed that Preston’s restart plans were thrown into disarray on Tuesday when a positive coronavirus test was revealed after their first full-contact training session.  

Sheffield Wednesday confirmed a staff member was one of those to test positive




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Dimitar Berbatov backs Paul Pogba to seal top-four spot for Man United

‘He will give huge confidence to the whole team’: Dimitar Berbatov backs Paul Pogba’s return from injury to provide ‘massive boost’ to Manchester United’s hopes of sealing top-four spot

  • Dimitar Berbatov says Paul Pogba can help Manchester United reach the top four
  • Though, he does worry he is at risk of picking up another injury after so long out
  • The former United star is excited to see Bruno Fernandes and Pogba together 

Dimitar Berbatov believes that Paul Pogba’s return from injury will help Manchester United finish in the top four after football restarts on June 17.

The 27-year-old has only made eight appearances all season due to an ankle injury that required surgery, with the France midfielder having been out of action since Boxing Day.

However, he is now back in training with the rest of the United squad and will be fit to play when the Premier League season resumes in a few weeks.

Dimitar Berbatov believes that Paul Pogba can help Manchester United reach the top four

Former Red Devils striker, Berbatov, believes that Pogba’s return to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side could be monumental for the team, but does worry he could be at risk of picking up another injury. 

He told BetfairBetfairBetfair: ‘United have had a huge boost in Paul Pogba returning to fitness. It is great news for the team.

‘The dangerous thing is that he hasn’t played for so long, so hopefully he has prepared well and he will be ready to play at 100% again. Is he going to start?

‘I’m not too sure, coming back from a long injury may impact him starting, it will be interesting to see if Solskjaer puts him straight into the battle. I’m sure if the manager asks Pogba how he feels and if he is ready, then Paul will say “of course I am ready”.’

During lockdown, the Frenchman has been working hard on his rehab in the hope that he can build upon the 71 minutes of football he has played for the club so far this season when football returns. 

Though, he does worry that Pogba is at risk of picking up another injury after being out so long

The former United star is excited to see Bruno Fernandes and Pogba play together for United

Berbatov is also excited about the prospect of Pogba and Bruno Fernandes lining up together for the first time this season.

He said: ‘It will be the first time we get to see Fernandes and Pogba play together and it will be interesting to see if they can hit it off, they will have had the chance to get to know each other in training but that is totally different to a game.

‘It could be a great partnership and I am sure that Pogba’s return is a massive boost and will give huge confidence to the whole team. One player doesn’t define a team, but when you have good, quality, confident players putting all their effort in to help the team then you are going to succeed.’

United return to action with an away game against Jose Mourinho’s Tottenham, which could determine who will finish in within the top four.

Given the importance of the result, Premier League bosses have scheduled the fixture as the opening game on the Friday night.

Berbatov said: ‘Make no mistake, this is a massive opportunity for United and they know it. Hopefully, they will be prepared for that challenge because three points are nothing, if they win their first game back and Chelsea slip up then the three points aren’t an issue anymore, it can be as easy as that.

‘But on the other hand, if United slip up and Chelsea win it will be six points, so they also have to be careful, there can be no room for error.’




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What Man Utd chief Ed Woodward has been told to do to win Jude Bellingham transfer race

Manchester United face a battle to beat Borussia Dortmund and Arsenal in the transfer race for Birmingham starlet Jude Bellingham. The Red Devils need to offer more guaranteed cash to sign the 16-year-old though.

Bellingham has visited United’s training ground and was personally shown around by Sir Alex Ferguson.

But it is believed German giants Borussia Dortmund are leading the race for his signature after proving their talent in bringing on youngsters such as Jadon Sancho.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is desperate to land Bellingham and he would be part of the first-team immediately.

And Birmingham privately accept they will sell the teenager this summer to raise funds to help the club survive in a post-coronavirus world.

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But ESPN claim the Championship club wand a big sum up front for Bellingham, something United have not yet offered

So far the Red Devils have offered a structured deal made up of smaller down payments but Birmingham want more initially for their prized asset.

If United are to beat Dortmund and Arsenal to the signature of Bellingham they will have to raise their original offer.

The Red Devils made their interest clear in January when they enquired about the availability of the youngster.

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And Solskjaer is keen to add Bellingham this summer as well as the likes of Borussia Dortmund winger Jadon Sancho and Aston Villa midfielder Jack Grealish.

Former United defender Wes Brown thinks Sancho would be a perfect signing for United and could be their new Cristiano Ronaldo.

He told MUTV: “Talent and excitement. We need someone exactly like that at the club.

“We’ve had them over the years and I’m sure if we were to sign him he would bring that excitement back to the club. It would be good for the team as well.

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“We’ve had players like that in the past, like with Cristiano Ronaldo.

“They’re the type of player who draw three or four defenders out and make the game a lot easier for the other players.

“If we could do it, it would be a brilliant signing.”

United are all set for the Premier League restart and will look to leapfrog Chelsea to finish in the top four.

That would ensure Champions League qualification and make them a more attractive club for prospective new players to join.

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Tottenham confirm positive coronavirus case after latest Premier League testing

Tottenham Hotspur have confirmed that the one positive coronavirus case in the latest round of Premier League testing has come from their club.

Following the announcement that one individual had testing positive following 1,197 tests across the division, Spurs released a statement saying that an employee of theirs will now self-isolate for seven days.

"We have been informed by the Premier League that we have received one positive test for COVID-19 following the latest round of testing at our Training Centre," said the club in a statement.

"Due to medical confidentiality, the individual’s name will not be disclosed.

"They are currently asymptomatic and will now self-isolate for seven days, in line with Premier League protocol, before undergoing further testing.

"We shall continue to strictly adhere to the Premier League’s Return to Training protocol, which ensures our Training Centre remains a safe and virus-free working environment."

The fifth round of testing saw the Premier League record more tests than at any point in their Project Restart process thus far, up from 1,130 in round four.

Matches in the current campaign are set to resume behind closed doors, but Premier League chief executive Richard Masters has stated that he is hopeful that fans could return to stadiums soon.

"No one knows when matches will move away from the behind-closed-doors model and it is right to have contingency plans in place, but there is optimism at the Premier League and at clubs that we will see fans back in the stadiums next season and it may happen on a phased basis," Masters told Sky Sports News.

"Hopefully it will be a huge morale boost and that is what we've been working towards.

"We've got some incredible fans in this country and we all know the Premier League as we know and love it won't be fully back until we have fans back through the turnstiles."

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Everton offer Baines contract extension as club look to reward long-serving star

Leighton Baines has been offered a one-year deal by Everton, with Carlo Ancelotti keen to keep his experience at the club.

With the financial situation uncertain within football at present because of the coronavirus crisis, most Premier League clubs are keen to offload players who are out of contract this summer.

But the Toffees have a few injuries as the resumption of the season approaches, and they are ready tie up long-serving Baines for another season.

Manager Ancelotti has made no secret of his admiration for the England international, and he believes the player’s versatility can help Everton as they look to trim their squad further.

He currently acts as cover for first-choice left-back Lucas Digne, but can also play in a defensive midfield role, and further forward on the left.

Everton also have Oumar Niasse, Cuco Martina and Maarten Stekelenburg out of contract on June 30, but so far, no decision has been made over whether to offer new short term deals.

Clubs can extend current contracts until the end of the 2019-20 season, or for a further year, but the Blues will wait until close to the end of the month to decide.

They have problems with Yerry Mina and Jean-Philippe Gbamin both picking up serious injuries in training, as the season’s restart on June 17 approaches.

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Baines has been at Everton for almost 13 years, and is regarded as one of the greatest and most popular players in the club’s history.

Everton kick off the Premier League's resumption with a local derby against Liverpool on the opening weekend.

Ancelotti will likely have to select Michael Keane and Mason Holgate as his centre-back partnership in Mina's absence.

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Saul Niguez's tweet about a 'new club' finally explained

Saul Niguez’s cryptic tweet about his ‘new club’ got Manchester United fans excited they were going to sign Atletico Madrid star… but he has now revealed true meaning of his tease – and they are NOT impressed!

  • Saul Niguez’s cryptic ‘new club’ tweet caused transfer speculation on Twitter 
  • The Spain midfielder has been heavily linked with a move to Manchester United 
  • But tweet was actually about Costa City, a new club in his hometown of Elche
  • United fans were less than impressed at the 25-year-old’s marketing stunt 

Atletico Madrid midfielder Saul Niguez has revealed that his ‘new club’ he teased on Instagram is in fact business venture with his brother, rather than a transfer confirmation.

The Spain international has been heavily linked with a £70million move to Manchester United, leading fans to believe that Niguez had put pen to paper with the Red Devils when he took to social media to tell his followers he would be announcing his ‘new club.’

But the 25-year-old – who has played 37 times for Diego Simeone’s men this season and scored four goals – shared the news that he and his brother Aaron have created Costa City club instead.

Saul Niguez sent out a cryptic tweet that suggested he was about to move to a new club

Taking place in Elche, the project will bring together over 30 players and 500 players across all age groups in the area, according The Evening Standard. 

Though Niguez did reveal his new club, it was not the sort of announcement many United supporters were hoping to learn about.

Niguez has been linked with a move to the English top flight and were he to end up in the Premier League next season, it is believed Old Trafford would be his destination.

Manchester United sent scouts to watch Atletico’s victory over Liverpool in the Champions League, and fans started to get excited about a potential move for Niguez 

United have been long-term admirers of the Atletico Madrid midfielder, having sent a host of scouts to watch him during Madrid’s victory over Liverpool in the Champions League in March.

Niguez has a £135m buy-out clause in his nine-year Atletico contract, which most observers consider well above his true value, and despite some reports to the contrary it is unlikely that United are willing to match that and smash the club record £89m they forked out to bring Pogba back from Juventus in 2016. 

Still, ambitious fans were less than impressed when they realised his cryptic tweet teasing a ‘new club’ was in fact a marketing stunt for his new club. 

One Twitter user, Dan, simply replied to Niguez: ‘Are you joking?’, while another added ‘U hyped up leaving for this.’

Other’s found the funny side, mocking United fans so thinking Niguez would ever join Old Trafford in the first place. 

But it turns out that Niguez has simply set up a new club in his hometown of Elche, and fans were less than impressed with Niguez’s marketing stunt

They took to Twitter to slam Niguez, saying he hyped up a move just to promote his club

While others found the funny side of the stunt, claiming he would never have joined United




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