Liverpool in talks to sign Trent Alexander-Arnold cover on free transfer

Liverpool are reportedly in talks to sign Thomas Meunier on a free transfer from PSG. The Belgian international’s contract is due to expire at the end of the campaign and Liverpool could be about to profit.

They are not the only Premier League club to have been linked with the versatile defender.

Manchester United, Arsenal and Tottenham have all been keeping tabs on Meunier.

But now according to Le10 Sport, it’s Liverpool who could be about to win the race for the full-back.

Meunier scored for PSG at Anfield in September 2018, when the Reds beat the Ligue 1 champions 3-2 at Anfield.

JUST IN:  What Jurgen Klopp told Timo Werner during private Liverpool transfer phone calls 

They would go on to win their sixth European Cup in Madrid, establishing themselves as one of the world’s best once again.

Meunier previously claimed that he wanted to stay at PSG next season, but they appear to be ready to move him on to a new club.

“My ambition is to stay at PSG next season. The club knows this and it has been discussed,” the Meunier said.

“We have a group that is super cool with a fairly young team apart from two, three olds. It’s fairly homogeneous.

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“If one day I had been told that I was going to play with players who can be Ballon d’Or, world-famous, I probably would never have believed it. For me, the Belgian championship was already something very good.”

Meunier could provide cover for Trent Alexander-Arnold at right-back and he has also been known to play at left-back too.

He is not the only PSG star Liverpool are keeping tabs on either.

Guillem Balague has claimed Liverpool are not prepared to break their current wage structure to sign Kylian Mbappe, but they are monitoring his station at PSG.

“Liverpool, as always with a big club and with big players, they want to have information,” said Balague.

“My understanding is that he has set in his mind to go to Real Madrid, he wants to go to Real Madrid, he has told that in the past and it will happen, but not this summer.

“We will have to see if Real Madrid will wait, depending how the financial situation of the club goes, if they will try to buy him next summer or wait until the end of his contract.

“In any case, nothing will happen to Mbappe this summer, that’s what I have been told by everybody I’ve asked.”

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Arsenal told William Saliba is ready to make impact under Mikel Arteta

Arsenal have been told incoming arrival William Saliba can make an instant impact in the first team despite his young age.

The 19-year-old is set to join up with his new Arsenal teammates ahead of next season, a year after the club struck a £27million deal with St Etienne for his signature.

Whilst technically already an Arsenal player, part of the agreement saw the Frenchman return to St Etienne on loan for the whole of this campaign.

And from working him with him all season, manager Claude Puel believes the defender has all the qualities to be a hit for The Gunners from the off.

"He is ready," the former Southampton and Leicester boss told The Athletic. "He is a fantastic player.

"He is a young player but with a lot of maturity in his play. Also, in his life. He is a player with a good feeling and spirit.

"It will be hard for us without him but I think it is a fantastic opportunity for Arsenal."

Saliba has made only 15 appearances for St Etienne this season, but would have made more were it not for a three-month injury layoff.

A fractured metatarsal kept the centre-back out from November to February, but he returned to the side before the Ligue 1 season was cut short due to coronavirus.

Ex-Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has previously hailed the suburbs of Paris – where Saliba grew up – as a hotbed of footballing talent, with the likes of Kylian Mbappe and Paul Pogba also emerging from the area.

This will be welcome news for Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta, who will be more than aware of his side's need for strong defensive reinforcements.

Despite a wealth of centre-halves at the club, it is still seen as a problem area for Arsenal.

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Premier League clubs APPROVE a return to contact training

Premier League clubs unanimously APPROVE plan to resume ‘Phase Two’ full contact training that allows ‘tackling while minimising any unnecessary close contact’ in biggest step forward for Project Restart yet

  • A Wednesday has approved the resumption of contact training at clubs
  • Last week, players returned to individual training and a Covid-19 testing system 
  • A step up in training intensity means a return to matches is now a step closer 

Premier League clubs have approved a return to contact training in a significant step forward for Project Restart.

Talks were held between clubs on Tuesday, overseen by new chairman Gary Hoffman, and it is believed that no major issues were raised over the protocol. The decision was unanimous and 14 clubs were needed to approve the plans for them to be passed.

Players returned to individual training last week where a widespread testing regime was rolled out across all Premier League clubs. That plan will remain in plays and players will still be tested twice a week. 

So far, Premier League stars have been keeping their distance in individual training sessions

But after Wednesday’s vote, a return to action has become a step closer to being reality

The 20 sides have carefully organised the arrival of players and the layout of training in order to maintain social distancing standards. 

There have only been a handful of positive tests – Watford defender Adrian Mariappa and Bournemouth goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale are the notable players.

Wednesday’s vote means that the Premier League is looking at a June restart, although the initial June 12 date that was mooted now appears unlikely.

Friday, June 26 appears more and more likely to be the date competitive action begins again behind closed doors.

There is also an increasing likelihood that matches will be played at venues across the country rather than at neutral grounds.

Tottenham talisman Harry Kane will soon be competing among his team-mates in training

Manchester United’s team will now soon be returning to closer contact training 

Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe, speaking exclusively to Sportsmail, has thrown his backing to the idea.

I hope games can be played at their own venues. I think if that can be done, a lot of people’s complaints will probably be gone.

‘The neutral venues, it would have been very hard to manage. Hopefully this is a much better solution if agreed by everyone.’

Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe has backed Project Restart ahead of Wednesday’s vote

So, aside from the obvious, how much will things change for players who have been training individually for the last week or so? Sportsmail explains…

DO  

TRAIN FOR AS LONG AS YOU WANT

The new guidelines from the Premier League say that there is no longer a time limit over training sessions. 

For the time being, individual training lasts 75 minutes but now the vote has passed, players can be involved in group training for as long as clubs want.

DON’T 

11 v 11 TRAINING

Full-on practice matches are still set to be a short while away for players at present.

Guidelines say that players should gradually return to group training, initially in twos and threes, before that number then expands.

So 11v11 training will be happening in due course, but not immediately. 

There will still be a short amount of time before Raheem Sterling and City are in 11v11 matches

DO

TACKLE AND PASS

The main purpose of a return to contact training is to condition players for the resumption of competitive action. And conditioning is just as much something to protect players from injury as it is to help perform at the highest standard.

That means that, albeit tentatively, clubs will be looking to recreate the intensity of a match to help their players reach as strong a fitness level as possible. 

It may sound basic, and it is, but it is a small yet significant step. Another way for players to ramp up their level of sharpness is to play with their team-mates. Passing and shooting drills form a part of tactical work, so it is a key factor that allows managers to plot for how they want their team to play. 

Contact between players around training sessions themselves is still to be heavily restricted 

DON’T

SHARE EQUIPMENT

The government guidelines to all of this are key, and are what the Premier League protocols are anchored around. 

Part of those guidelines say that close contact training involves ‘close quarters coaching, combat sports sparring, teams sports tackling, technical equipment sharing’.

But it is understood club protocols ensure will ensure that when it comes to equipment, shared use is still something that will be avoided wherever possible. 

It is something we have already seen not just in England but in Germany, with balls used for training and matches being sprayed with disinfectant.

They also say any training equipment, such as mannequins, must be disinfected after each use. They also encourage throw-ins to be limited as much as possible, to lessen the number of players touching the ball with their hands.

Balls used in training – and soon, matches – sprayed with disinfectant to prevent contamination

DO

WARM UP TOGETHER 

Players will be allowed to go through warm-ups almost as a complete squad. Guidelines say that groups of 18 players, with two-metre social distancing rules in place, are fine to undertake stretching as a team.

Government advice rates each exercise on a points system in terms of risk and a squad exercising with the correct distance between them is deemed low.   

DON’T

ALLOW LONG DRINKS BREAKS

Interestingly, guidelines provided to clubs have urged them to consider how they organise drinks breaks.

Competitive club action at this time of year is unusual – players are usually on pre-season breaks or gearing up for international tournaments. Training to rebuild fitness in the heat means breaks for water and refuelling are imperative.

But it is understood that during such a time, players usually tend to mingle in groups. This is something the government is keen to avoid – just because contact training is allowed in the throes of sport, it does not mean that two-metre social distancing rules are completely void now. 

Guidance given to clubs is so precise, players will be told how to behave during a drinks break

DO

LIMIT CONTACT AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE

Guidelines are really clear on this – while contact is now allowed, it doesn’t mean social distancing is over. Immense care has to be provided by clubs with how players arrive for training and how they are in contact with each other in the moments before and after a session. 

DON’T

SWAP BIBS

Bibs are often used in training sessions for team activities or even simple drills like rondo. 

Players will be told that bibs are not to be passed around the squad and will be distributed by a coach wearing PPE gloves. They will then be washed immediately after use from a player to lower risks of cross-contmaination as much as possible. 




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Fernandes and Pogba showing ‘winning desire’ during Man Utd’s training return

Manchester United pair Bruno Fernandes and Paul Pogba have both showed a "winning desire" since returning to training claims Luke Shaw.

Much has been made about the dynamics between the Portuguese midfielder and United's record signing.

Fernandes has hit the ground running since arriving in January with his attitude coming in for particular praise.

Whereas it has been the opposite for Pogba who has been criticised for how he and his agent have conducted themselves at times this term.

But as Premier League clubs begin preparing for the season to restart Shaw has spoken highly of how both midfielders have acted in training.

He told the club's website : "On Tuesday we saw the group of Paul, Bruno, Angel and Nemanja, and those four are looking very strong and very good.

"There was a lot of competition and shouting going on in that group. It’s clear that everyone’s still got that winning desire, even in training. We’ve missed that."

Fernandes has scored three times for United since joining and been hugely influential.

So much so that some believe his quality could help the Red Devils cope were they to sell Pogba.

But Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who has regularly defended the Frenchman, is excited about the two teaming up.

"Good players can always play together, so definitely, they can – it's a big yes," he said when asked whether they could link up effectively.

"I think it's exciting… we do have an exciting squad. I've got Scott (McTominay), Fred, Nemanja (Matic).

"There's many games coming up and I'm sure we can find a good connection between them. We've been discussing that as a coaching team of course, and we're looking forward to it."

Pogba has only made six starts this season for United with the most recent coming in December.

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Balotelli's relationship with Cellino is at breaking point

Mario Balotelli to be released by Brescia at the end of the season – TWO YEARS before his contract expires – after missing 10 days of training and rowing with president Massimo Cellino

  • Mario Balotelli and Massimo Cellino are both known to be volatile characters 
  • Striker went AWOL for ten days before eventually returning to Brescia training 
  • It is understood that both parties have mutually agreed he will leave in summer 
  • Balotelli only joined his hometown club last summer but looks set to move on  

Mario Balotelli is heading towards the exit door at Brescia as his relationship with club president Massimo Cellino has reached breaking point. 

The Italian striker only joined his hometown club last summer but it seems his latest indiscretion will result in both parties severing ties.  

Balotelli missed 10 days of training and had a huge bust-up with Cellino, according to Gazzetta dello Sport. 

Mario Balotelli eventually returned to Brescia training after 10 days away from the club

Club president Massimo Cellino has had enough and is ready to cut ties with the striker 

The 30-year-old did eventually return to training but separately from manager Diego Lopez and the rest of his team-mates. 

Balotelli reportedly earns £877,000-per-year at the Serie A side and is contracted until 2022 but Cellino now regrets the lucrative offer made to the forward last year. 

He has become frustrated by the distractions surrounding Balotelli and disappointed by his output of five goals in 19 games this season before play was suspended for coronavirus. 

They have reached an agreement to conclude the season peacefully and part ways by mutual agreement in the summer. 

The club were also irritated recently by Balotelli’s desire to host an Instagram live chat with famous Italian porn star Rocco Siffredi. 

It seems the relationship between Cellino and his star man is at an end and both are known for being combustable characters. 

Balotelli’s career has been a rollercoaster and he’s played for seven different clubs in the past seven years.

From the famous ‘Why Always Me’ t-shirt unveiled after scoring for Manchester City in the derby against United, Balotelli has become renowned for off-pitch antics almost as much as on-field performances. 

Given his emotional connection to Brescia, it had been hoped that he’d finally find some consistency but that has not been the case. 

His next stop could be in Brazil with Vasco da Gama, who are ready to make an offer for Balotelli to play in South America. 

The Italian has played for seven clubs since 2013 and looks set to be on the move once more




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Rob Holding responds to rumours Arsenal could sell him this summer

Arsenal defender Rob Holding has made it clear he’s taking no notice of rumours that Mikel Arteta is open to selling him in the summer transfer window.

The Gunners signed Holding from Bolton Wanderers for a fee of around £2million back in 2016 and the 24-year-old was beginning to hit his stride under Unai Emery when he ruptured the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee.

Holding scored with a towering header on his return against Nottingham Forest last September but the English centre-back has only made three appearances and just a solitary start since Arteta’s arrival.

Though it was believed Arteta was simply easing Holding back to full fitness following his devastating knee injury, the latest reports suggest the central defender’s future could be in serious doubt.

Earlier this week, David Ornstein, speaking on the Athletic’s Ornstein and Chapman podcast, revealed that Arsenal will be listening to offers for Holding over the coming weeks and months.

Ornstein claimed that Sokratis Papastathopoulos and Shkodran Mustafi are also deemed surplus to requirements in north London.

However, Holding has since shared an Instagram post indicating that he’s ignoring the noise and that he intends to fight for his place under Arteta at the Emirates.

‘Focus your energy on what you can control,’ he said.

View this post on Instagram

Focus your energy on what you can control 💪⚽️

A post shared by Rob Holding (@rholding95) on

Back in January, Arteta insisted Holding would be a ‘valuable’ player for Arsenal but admitted the centre-half was still a little off the pace.

‘He is a very interesting player, very focused, very determined and very willing to learn,’ the Spaniard said ahead of Holding’s substitute appearance against Bournemouth.

‘Obviously the fact he has been out for such a long time, he is lacking competition now and lacking that rhythm.

‘We need to try to give him as much as possible to help him.

‘There were some moments that he looked really, really good.

‘He is a player that is going to be very valuable for us.’

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Jose Mourinho confirms Tottenham players back from injury

‘Harry Kane, Son, Bergwijn, Sissoko, all of them are fine’: Jose Mourinho reveals Tottenham will have their star players back from injury when the season resumes after coronavirus lockdown

  • Tottenham will have a fully-fit squad to choose from when football returns
  • Spurs had been decimated by injury before the coronavirus lockdown
  • Harry Kane has been unavailable since picking up a hamstring injury in January
  • But Jose Mourinho admits players will struggle to reach their best at first 
  • Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19

Tottenham will welcome back four key first-team players when the Premier League season resumes after the coronavirus lockdown, Jose Mourinho has revealed.

It represents a huge boost for Spurs, who were left with a threadbare squad after injury robbed them of star men like Harry Kane and Son Heung-min earlier this year.

But the Tottenham boss fears that they will struggle to reach their best when they do return due to their extended period on the sidelines.

Jose Mourinho is confident he will be able to welcome back a string of first-team players

Kane has not played since limping out of Tottenham’s New Year’s Day defeat by Southampton with a hamstring problem, while Son has since fulfilled military service after recovering from an arm injury suffered in February.

Mourinho told Sky Sports’ The Football Show on Wednesday morning: ‘I cannot say in this moment they are ready to play because one thing is to recover from an injury, and another is to be ready to play football. 

‘In Harry’s case, I think for about five months he hasn’t played, but all of them are not injured any more. They are training, and training is what it is at the moment, training has a lot of limitations. We cannot compete, we cannot do one versus one, we have to keep a certain distance, we cannot compete. 

‘Harry Kane, Son, Bergwijn, Sissoko, all of them are fine. I think with a couple of weeks of normal training, when the authorities tell us we can train normally I think in a couple of weeks, the boys will be ready to play, of course not in the maximum of their potential, I think nobody can do that in this moment. 


Son Heung-min and Harry Kane are set to be back available for Spurs when season restarts

Moussa Sissoko gives a thumbs up to the camera during a training session in Enfield

January signing Steven Bergwijn is back after suffering an ankle injury earlier this year

‘For us, of course, it is a great feeling, because we finished the period with that defeat at Leipzig, where we were really, really in trouble to have 11 players, including attacking players, and in this moment (Erik) Lamela, Son, Dele (Alli), Harry Kane, Bergwijn, everybody is fit now.’

Sissoko required knee surgery in January while January signing Bergwijn was feared to be out for the rest of the season with an ankle injury. 

Tottenham ended the lockdown period on a run of three games without a win in the Premier League, with their last result being a 1-1 draw at Burnley.

They sit eighth in the table, seven points adrift of fourth-placed Chelsea in the hunt for Champions League places. 




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Arsenal and Tottenham 'to battle it out for Chelsea winger Willian'

Arsenal and Tottenham ‘set to battle it out for Chelsea winger Willian’ as they face up to summer window where they ‘can only sign players for free or on loan’ due to impact of coronavirus

  • Chelsea winger Willian’s contract at Stamford Bridge expires next month
  • He could extend his deal on a short-term basis to the end of the season
  • Premier League clubs are facing up to a lack of funds in the transfer market 
  • Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19

Arsenal and Tottenham will compete against each other for the free signing of Chelsea’s Willian as they face up to a lean transfer window this summer.

The Premier League rivals are facing a scenario where they will only sign players on free transfers, loans or in swap deals, according to The Telegraph.

Both clubs are reportedly planning for a summer without spending any money as the financial impact of the coronavirus suspension begins to bite. 

Willian is at the centre of a transfer tug of war between Tottenham and Arsenal this summer

The Chelsea winger arrives for training as players build up fitness before the return to action

The north London rivals face the prospect of raising money by selling off star assets like Harry Kane or Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

Willian’s Stamford Bridge future has been the subject of intense speculation, with his current deal set to run out at the end of June.

But with the Premier League likely to restart next month, a short-term deal is set to be agreed between both parties so Willian can play the rest of the season, which is likely to stretch into July and August.

‘It’s a difficult situation because Chelsea offered me two years and they are not going to change what they offered. I said I wanted three more years,’ the winger told Brazilian outlet Esporte Interativo last week. 

A move to Tottenham would see Willian reunited with former Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho

Mikel Arteta and Arsenal will reportedly have limited funds in the transfer market this summer

‘The situation is difficult because of this. I really don’t know if it will be possible [to stay]. My goal is to continue working and focus on the remainder of the season, so that Chelsea can continue winning games.

‘I have a clear head and I’m focused for the rest of the season that we have left. I think it’s difficult [to stay]. Let’s see what happens.’ 

The 31-year-old returned to training last week as Premier League clubs readied themselves for a return to action in June. 

However, he has spoken previously of players being ‘uncomfortable’ about returning in the current global climate, as Project Restart accelerates.  




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Cagliari director fears Radja Nainggolan will return to Inter Milan

‘It’s not up to us’: Cagliari director fears Inter Milan will want their midfield star Radja Nainggolan back when his loan deal is up in the summer

  • Radja Nainggolan was frozen out by new manager Antonio Conte last summer
  • But he could be in line for a shock return to Inter Milan this time around
  • Belgian midfielder still has two-and-a-half years left on his deal at the San Siro 

Radja Nainggolan could find himself back at Inter Milan next season after Cagliari director Marcello Carli admitted ‘it’s not up to us’.

The Belgian midfielder moved to Cagliari in a season-long loan move last summer just a year after moving to the San Siro from Roma.

Though he was initially frozen out by new manager Antonio Conte last summer, the 32-year-old could be in line for a shock recall in the months to come.  

Cagliari fear losing Radja Nainggolan when his loan deal comes to an end this summer

‘Bringing in Nainggolan was outside of the usual plans, because we considered him a show-stopping player who could help raise the overall level of the squad,’ director of sport Carli told Sky Sport Italia.

‘We were convinced that with him, we could recover the money spent by the improvement his presence would bring in the other players.

‘There’s no point talking about whether or not Radja will be with Cagliari next season, because he still has two years on his contract with Inter and it’s not up to us.’

Nainggolan has scored five times in 24 appearances back at Cagliari this season, where he enjoyed five seasons before moving to Roma in 2013. 

The Belgian midfielder had been frozen out by new manager Antonio Conte at Inter Milan




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Liverpool transfer target Timo Werner compared to Anfield hero Luis Suarez

Liverpool transfer target Timo Werner has one very similar quality to former Reds hero Luis Suarez, and will become a leading player if he signs for the Reds this summer. That’s the opinion of former RB Leipzig assistant manager Jesse Marsch, who was full of praise for the German striker.

Werner continues to be linked with a move to Anfield.

The 24-year-old has a release clause of just £52million, and Liverpool are expected to trigger it in the summer.

And Marsch, who coached him at Leipzig, has subtly compared him to Suarez.

Speaking to the Liverpool Echo, he explained that one of Werner’s best qualities is his conditioning, and the fact he is never injured.

JUST IN: Man Utd chief Ed Woodward identifies Jadon Sancho transfer alternative

That is a quality he shares with Suarez, who never missed a game through injury during his time on Merseyside.

Marsch said: “Even his ability to work against the ball and work for the team is also quite good.

“And he’s fit all the time, that’s another thing you can’t underestimate.

“He’s always fit. He’s almost never injured, so that’s a big asset to have for an explosive attacking player as well.”

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  • Rangers close to completing Ianis Hagi deal after renegotiating fee

Werner is expected to provide competition for Jurgen Klopp’s front three, given his ability to play as a winger or central striker.

And Marsch detailed the various abilities he will bring to the team if he joins, praising his finishing ability in particular.

He continued: “It won’t be cheap for Liverpool but he’d be a great asset for them, for sure.

“He can [play across the front three] because he’s intelligent. He likes drifting to the left side.

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  • Liverpool target Kai Havertz has ‘higher ceiling’ than Timo Werner

“Even when he plays as a double striker he likes to drift a little bit towards the left side and then be ready to run without the ball, slashing in behind the back line of the opponent or get balls on the run and go 1v1 or come in on his right foot.

“He can do this from the right, from the left. He’s so smart at finding space and timing his runs behind. And his pace is incredible, as well as his finishing ability at speed.

“From an attacking perspective, he has very few weaknesses, if any.”

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