Liverpool should be awarded the Premier League title if the season cannot be completed due to the coronavirus pandemic, according to former Manchester United goalkeeper Mark Bosnich.

Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool had opened up a 25-point lead atop the table, winning 27 of 29 games, when the campaign was suspended last month.

It remains to be seen when, and if, the season will resume, leading to debate over what should happen if it cannot be completed.

Bosnich, who had two spells at United and also played for Chelsea and Aston Villa, believes Liverpool should be awarded a first league title since 1990.

"They should be awarded the title," he told Stats Perform.

"There may be, deep in the by-rules of the Premier League that says maybe they don't or whatever, but I think it's only fair and only right that they're awarded the title.

"Let's all be frank, they weren't going to be caught."

However, Bosnich feels the bigger issues could be elsewhere if the seasons cannot be finished due to COVID-19, which has killed more than 145,500 people worldwide.

The former Australia international said there would be questions around the Champions League, relegation zone and even the Championship.

"The problems we're going to have are not so much there. It will be the Champions League places and even more so the relegation zone. That is going to be a massive question that needs to be answered," Bosnich said.

"Even for the teams from the Championship – what about Leeds [United] and West Brom?
There is going to be an almighty ruckus if the season is void. We've already seen that three or four weeks ago when [West Ham chief executive] Karren Brady suggested it.

"If they turn around now and say, 'Liverpool, you are champions' the rest of the teams in the top four are going to say they want to be in the Champions League.
If you say its null and void, the teams in the relegation zone will want to say they're still in the Premier League next season.

"We could be in court for two next two years just about this season while the season's going on. It's one thing everyone has to bear in mind. You don't want to be in court for years and years and years about a season that, which by the time the court decision comes, is memory anyway.

"It's going to be a very difficult thing but they'll have every type of contingency ready."

Olympiacos and Nottingham Forest owner Evangelos Marinakis has funded a new intensive care unit at a Greek hospital worth more than €1.5million.

Marinakis tested positive for coronavirus on March 10 and was treated back in his homeland.

The 52-year-old announced two weeks later that he had fully recovered from the virus and praised the "hero" health workers who treated him.

Marinakis has now contributed money towards an ICU at the General Public Hospital of Nikaia.

In a statement, Olympiacos said Marinakis had provided "once more a helping hand so that our public health system may cope with the huge challenges that have occurred".

They said: "The leader of Olympiacos along with Mrs. Aggeliki Fragkou and ΙΟΝ SA ΙΟΝ Α.Ε. donated an amount that exceeded €1.5m in total to be used for the procurement of 12 fully-equipped ICUs spaces (ICU-specific beds, high-tech ventilators, specific monitors, pumps, defibrillators, etc..), payment of all required installation and room configuration costs, E/M works, health and medical equipment, as well as all additional costs of the additional extension of the Hospital's intensive care unit."

It is hoped the new facility will be ready to receive patients in the next two months.

Greece has recorded 2,011 confirmed cases of coronavirus and 90 deaths.

Former Leeds United defender Norman Hunter is in hospital after being diagnosed with COVID-19, the Championship club have confirmed.

The 76-year-old was admitted after testing positive for coronavirus, according to a club statement released on Friday.

"We can confirm that Leeds United and England legend Norman Hunter is being treated in hospital after testing positive for COVID-19," the statement read.

"We would like to take this opportunity to remind the public and the media to respect the wishes of Norman and his family and to give them the space they need during this difficult time.

"Keep battling Norman, we are all with you."

Hunter spent 14 years with Leeds, winning two league titles, an EFL Cup and reaching the European Cup final in 1975, where they lost 2-0 to Bayern Munich.

He then played for Bristol City and Barnsley, where he finished his career in 1982.

Known for his combative style of play, Hunter won 28 caps for England and was part of the World Cup-winning squad of 1966.

He had spells as Barnsley manager from 1980-84 and Rotherham United from 1985-87.

Barcelona star Lionel Messi is "a global example" when it comes to the debate over footballers and pay cuts during the coronavirus pandemic, according to a sports psychologist.

Messi issued a statement on behalf of the Barca first team on March 30 to confirm that the players had agreed to a 70 per cent reduction in wages to help to ease the financial burden on the club while football is largely at a standstill.

The players are also making further financial contributions to ensure Barca's non-playing employees can take home their full wages while LaLiga remains suspended during Spain's nationwide lockdown.

Atletico Madrid announced last week that their players would be taking a similar pay reduction.

The decisions from two of Spain's top clubs encouraged debate over the practices of the Premier League elite, whose players are yet to announce any definitive agreement on wage reductions or financial contributions towards frontline health systems.

Tom Bates believes Messi and Barca's example will help to encourage other clubs to follow suit while the COVID-19 crisis persists.

"The players that I have spoken with from the Premier League all the way through, they have different perspectives, naturally," he told Stats Perform.

"One of the things that the guys have said is, 'Well, actually at our club we are quite a wealthy club, so we could probably afford to keep our staff paid, but other clubs in different leagues won't be able to do that'. Others feel like taking a pay cut to keep their staff on board is absolutely fine.

"The classic case is Leo Messi, who started this and was one of the first players to take a 70 per cent pay cut in order to make sure the staff at Barcelona were able to carry on working, and I think that really is a global example to everybody when you're talking about that level in money in wages, and that type of athlete.

"I am very privileged: I have met Leo Messi and [Pep] Guardiola over there in Barcelona together as a team, and it doesn't surprise me that they are leading the way with this.

"If there was going to be a global example of a player out there doing something for the greater good of their club – and he embodies that for me – so, in my professional opinion, if you can afford that and if you're able to support by taking a pay cut, then clearly those who need it the most are going to benefit."

Bates also praised the influence of former Manchester United and England captain Wayne Rooney in encouraging conversations around mental health.

Writing for The Times, Derby County star Rooney outlined how the suspension of the football calendar could have implications for the mental wellbeing of players who have seen their routine grind to a halt.

"Wayne is in many ways an ambassador, he is a cultural leader for the game, especially because what he has achieved at international level, and certainly to be continuing his career even now and still performing at a very high level encourages others to do the same," Bates said.

"When you have somebody like Wayne come and be very open and very honest about mental health on a global level within the game, that can only be a good thing because it encourages others to have conversations, to open up conversations and be courageous enough to talk about their own mental health, and of course talking about it is the first step to improving it."

West Brom chief executive Mark Jenkins will give up 100 per cent of his salary for the duration of English football's suspension during the coronavirus pandemic.

Although the Championship club remain "financially stable" for the foreseeable future, Jenkins has volunteered to give up his wages and says several other members of the senior management will take "significant" cuts to personal income.

West Brom will also pay the additional 20 per cent of staff salaries if the club are forced to take advantage of the government's furlough scheme, which guarantees 80 per cent of worker wages up to £2,500 a month if businesses are unable to operate as normal.

The announcement from the Baggies, who were second in the Championship before 2019-20 was halted, comes two days after the English Football League (EFL) confirmed the season has been postponed indefinitely until it is safe to resume domestic competitions.

"At the moment, the club is financially stable and remains so for the foreseeable future," Jenkins said in a statement published via the club's website.

"But everybody is fully aware these are very uncertain times in which we simply cannot forecast what the future holds. Until we regain a level of certainty, we cannot be sure if planned income will actually be received or if we will be forced to utilise cash the club already holds to refund existing commitments.

"With that in mind, I think it is only correct that for the duration of this lockdown I take a 100 per cent cut in my salary and other members of the senior management team have also offered to take significant reductions in their remuneration.

"Like many other clubs, we have considered using a furlough approach with non-playing staff who are now unable to work owing to the lockdown and we have made plans for this eventuality.

"At present we have not been required to sanction this action, but if the lockdown continues and football remains 'on-hold' then this decision may have to be changed. What we will pledge is to ensure none of the staff effected [sic] suffer a reduction in pay; the club will make up the 20 per cent shortfall not covered by the government's Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

"I should perhaps add at this point that nothing underlines the spirit of our staff, or the commitment they have for Albion, than to tell you that several have volunteered to take pay cuts in order to help the club navigate a way through these difficulties. It says everything about the core values which run through our staff for which I and all the senior management team are both mindful and appreciative."

Jenkins' pledge comes amid criticism of major football clubs, including Tottenham and Premier League leaders Liverpool, for utilising the option to save costs by furloughing staff despite their healthy financial positions.

Premier League stars have been urged to take voluntary pay cuts by UK health minister Matt Hancock, with discussions between club captains said to have taken place this weekend with a view to establishing a charitable foundation into which donated wages can be funnelled.

The Professional Footballers' Association (PFA) claims "essential public services" would lose important revenue if players take the 30 per cent pay cut proposed by Premier League clubs.

Highly-paid stars have come under increasing public pressure to commit to a wage reduction after the coronavirus pandemic brought England's top flight to a halt until at least May.

Liverpool on Saturday joined Tottenham, Newcastle United, Norwich City and Bournemouth in placing a number of non-playing staff on furlough. The scheme sees the United Kingdom government cover 80 per cent of an individual's wages up to the value of £2,500.

Health secretary Matt Hancock called on footballers to "play their part" and Premier League clubs agreed at a meeting on Friday to approach them over a pay cut.

No agreement was reached with the PFA, which suggested it was not the right approach, mooting that services such as the National Health Service (NHS) could suffer a financial blow.

However, the players' union stated a "substantial contribution" will be made once talks have been concluded.

The PFA's statement read: "The players are mindful that as PAYE [pay as you earn] employees, the combined tax on their salaries is a significant contribution to funding essential public services - which are especially critical at this time.

"Taking a 30 per cent salary deduction will cost the Exchequer substantial sums. This would be detrimental to our NHS and other government-funded services.

"The proposed 30 per cent salary deduction over a 12-month period equates to over £500m in wage reductions and a loss in tax contributions of over £200m to the government.

"What effect does this loss of earning to the government mean for the NHS? Was this considered in the Premier League proposal and did the health secretary, Matt Hancock, factor this in when asking players to take a salary cut?

"We welcomed the opportunity to discuss this with the Premier League today and we are happy to continue talks.

"It is our priority to finalise the precise details of our commitment as soon as possible. However, to achieve a collective position for all Premier League players - of which there are many different financial and contractual circumstances from club-to-club - will take a bit more time. 

"The PFA Charity has also agreed to make a substantial contribution to a player-led initiative once the details are finalised.

"There should be no doubting the players and captains are committed to achieving this as soon as possible. They recognise their role in wider society and what they need to do, as a group, to help and support others."

The PFA also claimed the Premier League's decision to advance £125million to EFL and National League clubs and donate £20m to the NHS and other charitable causes was insufficient.

"£20m is welcome, but we believe it could be far bigger," said the statement.

"The EFL money is an advance. Importantly, it will aid cashflow in the immediate, but football needs to find a way to increase funding to the EFL and non-league clubs in the long-term.

"Many clubs require an increase in funding just to survive. We believe in our football pyramid and again stress the need for solidarity between all clubs."

The statement added that players want to ensure their financial contributions support clubs, players and staff at all levels of the football pyramid and the NHS, whose workers it called "the real heroes".

Premier League clubs have agreed to consult their players about taking 30 per cent pay cuts due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The proliferation of COVID-19 has seen the majority of global sport grind to a halt, with a meeting of Premier League shareholders on Friday acknowledging England's top flight will not get back under way at the start of May.

Tottenham, Newcastle United, Norwich City and Bournemouth have placed at least part of their non-playing staff on furlough leave at the United Kingdom government's expense.

Health secretary Matt Hancock called on Premier League footballers to "take a pay cut and play their part", with the Professional Footballers' Association (PFA) attracting criticism for a lack of action in agreeing such measures.

However, clubs will now approach their players about reducing their salaries while football is on hiatus.

A Premier League statement read: "The sporting and financial implications for Premier League clubs as well as for the FA, EFL and National League were considered at today's meeting.

"In the face of substantial and continuing losses for the 2019- 20 season since the suspension of matches began, and to protect employment throughout the professional game, Premier League clubs unanimously agreed to consult their players regarding a combination of conditional reductions and deferrals amounting to 30 per cent of total annual remuneration.

"This guidance will be kept under constant review as circumstances change. The League will be in regular contact with the PFA and the union will join a meeting which will be held tomorrow between the League, players and club representatives."

The Premier League also announced that £125million would be advanced to the EFL and National League due to the "severe difficulties clubs throughout the football pyramid are suffering at this time".

All leagues overseen by the EFL and National League have been suspended indefinitely.

An additional £20m has been committed to support the NHS, communities, families and vulnerable groups during the pandemic.

"This includes a direct financial contribution to the NHS and funds to enable clubs to refocus their efforts and develop significant outreach programmes to help communities, including those most in need. This funding will enable both immediate and longer-term support during the crisis," the statement read.

"In response to COVID-19, Premier League clubs have been supporting tens of thousands of people in their communities each and every day through targeted activity including donations to foodbanks, telephone calls to the elderly, food parcels delivered to the vulnerable and a wide range of free resources to support wellbeing and education.

"Many Premier League clubs are also working closely with their local NHS Trusts to provide valuable support through the provision of resources, volunteers and facilities. Now, more than ever, clubs are playing a vital role to support the wellbeing of those in their communities and alleviate pressure on critical health services.

"Working closely with the Department of Health and Social Care, Public Health England and the NHS, the wide reach and appeal of the Premier League and our clubs will continue to be used to promote important public health messaging throughout this crisis.

"The Premier League would like to reiterate that the thoughts of all our clubs are with all those directly affected by COVID-19​."

The Premier League and the Professional Footballers' Association (PFA) are discussing player wages as part of talks over how football in England should respond to the coronavirus pandemic.

Representatives from the English Football League (EFL) and League Managers Association (LMA) were also involved at the summit, which will continue for the next two days.

Premier League clubs Newcastle United, Tottenham, Norwich City and Bournemouth have placed members of non-playing staff on furlough, taking advantage of the UK government scheme in response to COVID-19 that will pay employees 80 per cent of their wages up to £2,500 per month.

Bournemouth and Norwich said they would top up those salaries to ensure furloughed staff receive full pay, although Tottenham's decision to cut staff pay by 20 per cent across the board came in for criticism given the wage packets of head coach Jose Mourinho and his playing squad are set to go untouched at this stage.

The resumption of the 2019-20 season and player safety was also on the agenda at Wednesday's meeting.

A statement issued by the PFA read: "Senior representatives from the PFA, Premier League, EFL and LMA met today and shared a constructive meeting regarding the challenges facing the game as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

"The meeting reiterated that the overriding priority is the health and well-being of the nation - including that of players, coaches, managers, club staff and supporters – and everyone agreed football must only return when it is safe and appropriate to do so.

"No decisions were taken today with discussions set to continue in the next 48 hours with a focus on several high-profile matters, including player wages and the resumption of the 2019-20 season."

Professional football in England is currently suspended until at least April 30, with the Football Association extending its June 1 deadline to complete the season indefinitely.

Jadon Sancho is the name on everyone's lips.

The Borussia Dortmund teenager has taken Europe by storm and clubs are queuing up.

But Manchester United are reportedly at the front of the line.

 

TOP STORY – UNITED IN TOUCH WITH SANCHO AGENT

Manchester United have contacted Jadon Sancho's agent as they look to sign the Borussia Dortmund sensation, according to Fabrizio Romano.

Sancho tops the list of United's transfer targets following his exploits for the Bundesliga side, with Liverpool and Chelsea also reportedly interested.

But Dortmund – who will not stand in Sancho's way of a departure – are unwilling to budge on their €110million (£98m) valuation.

 

ROUND-UP

- Tuttosport reports Chelsea are preparing a huge contract offer for Milan goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma. It comes as the Blues reportedly look to sell Kepa Arrizabalaga.

Juventus are interested in Achraf Hakimi, says Calciomercato. Achraf is set to return to Real Madrid following a two-year loan spell at Dortmund. Chelsea and Paris Saint-Germain have also been linked to the Moroccan full-back.

Inter have named their price for Barcelona target Lautaro Martinez, Calciomercato reports. With a release clause of €111m, Inter want at least €80m in cash.

- Birmingham City's 16-year-old star Jude Bellingham is set to reject a transfer to United in favour of Dortmund, says Bild.

Tottenham and Arsenal, along with Crystal Palace and West Ham, are eyeing Liverpool defender Dejan Lovren, according to Team Talk.

- Calciomercato claims Inter have not given up on signing Napoli forward Dries Mertens on a free transfer. The Belgian star is out of contract at the end of 2019-20.

Madrid is the preferred option for Rennes teenager Eduardo Camavinga, says Marca. Liverpool, Dortmund and PSG have also emerged as possible suitors for the 17-year-old.

- Corriere dello Sport says Valencia are eyeing Inter centre-back Diego Godin, who has been linked to United and Tottenham.

Roma are lining up a move for Atletico Madrid striker Diego Costa, says Diario AS. Clubs in Brazil and Qatar are also reportedly circling.

James McClean has been fined two weeks wages and agreed to delete his Instagram account after an apparent IRA joke, Stoke City have confirmed.

With social distancing measures in place in the United Kingdom amid the coronavirus pandemic, Stoke winger McClean uploaded a controversial post to his Instagram story.

Captioned "Today's school lesson - history", with a laughing emoji, the 30-year-old was pictured facing his children wearing a balaclava - imagery synonymous with the IRA.

A Stoke statement confirmed McClean's punishment and read: "The player has expressed contrition and recognises that the post was ill-advised and offensive."

McClean added: "I never wanted to cause any offence but I now realise that I did so and for that I apologise unreservedly.

"I have spoken to the club and will be deleting my Instagram account."

The Republic of Ireland international has previously complained of "constant sectarian abuse" in English football and was booed by Stoke supporters last season for refusing to wear a poppy, the traditional symbol of Remembrance Sunday.

McClean has suggested wearing a poppy would represent "a gesture of disrespect for the innocent people who lost their lives in the Troubles - and Bloody Sunday especially".

Leeds United players, coaches and senior officials have taken a voluntary wage deferral to allow the club to continue to pay non-football staff during the coronavirus pandemic.

The spread of COVID-19 has caused massive disruptions across the sporting calendar, with English football on hold at least until April 30.

Experts have suggested such a prolonged and unplanned hiatus could threaten the very existence of smaller clubs across the world, as they are committed to paying football and non-football staff even without matchday revenue.

But some clubs are asking certain high-earning employees to defer their wages or take salary cuts during the interruption.

Leeds are the latest to make such a move, with players and football staff volunteering to defer their wages over the coming months.

A statement read: "Leeds United can confirm that the players, coaching staff and senior management team have volunteered to take a wage deferral for the foreseeable future to ensure that all non-football staff at Elland Road and Thorp Arch [Leeds' training facility] can be paid and the integrity of the business can be maintained during these uncertain times.

"The lack of fixtures, cancellation of events, impact on ancillary revenue and closure of the football financing market will cost the club several million pounds each month.

"Following a regular catch up between chief executive Angus Kinnear, director of football Victor Orta and several senior players, the decision was made by the squad to defer part of their own salaries to ensure that the club can continue to pay all 272 members of full-time staff and the majority of casual staff for the coming months."

Orta praised the players for their collective attitude in such a time of crisis.

"My players have demonstrated an incredible sense of unity and togetherness and I am proud of their actions," he said. "To Marcelo [Bielsa] and his staff and all of the players, we thank them for putting our wider team first and taking care of family.

"Now we must focus on public health, and when the people are safe, finish what we started."

Before English football was suspended, Leeds were top of the Championship with 71 points.

Gary Neville believes it is too soon for the Football Association, Premier League and English Football League to consider playing matches behind closed doors in order to restart the season.

On Thursday, the Premier League and EFL confirmed there would be no professional matches played until at least April 30 as the United Kingdom continues its attempts to slow the spread of coronavirus.

All games in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are currently postponed, with the FA having agreed to extend the current season beyond June 30 if it is necessary. 

Some matches in Europe were played behind closed doors prior to the widespread postponement of leagues across the continent.

But former Manchester United defender Neville does not believe putting on games without fans in attendance is the best course of action at this stage.

"There are a lot of things to happen before we contemplate behind closed doors," Neville told BBC Radio 5Live.

"I said no on this about three or four weeks ago because I felt that it takes away from the essence of football.

"I also felt that EFL clubs and non-league clubs would suffer too much from the revenue loss and it would put them under.

"At the moment, the behind closed doors idea has got to come only after the health priority.

"Will fans turn up outside the stadium? Will fans congregate outside the stadium if their team can get promoted or get relegated, or if they can get into Europe?

"How are we going to stop that? How are the police going to man it? How are they health services going to react to incidents that happen off the back of it and do we need to put any more pressure on the services at this point in time?

"However, if those fears could be overcome somewhere down the line within this 12-week period then [behind closed doors games] could be the case."

Neville last week confirmed the two Manchester hotels he co-owns with Ryan Giggs would be open free of charge to health workers during the crisis.

There have been over 5,600 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Britain, with 285 people losing their lives to the virus so far.

Wayne Rooney said he believes the coronavirus pandemic might mean the loss of the 2020-21 season in English football but insisted the Football Association is right to prioritise completing the current season whenever that becomes possible.

The former England captain commended the FA's decision to extend the length of the current season indefinitely, describing it as "the fair thing" for promotion, relegation and title races to be settled.

Rooney, who plays for Derby County in the Championship, indicated he is opposed to matches being played behind closed doors given the strain emergency services are already under across the UK.

"It wouldn't surprise me if finishing the season takes until the end of 2020," Rooney said in The Times.

"Football, like every other industry, is in unknown territory and, just like every other industry, has to listen to the advice and take all necessary precautions. For me, that rules out finishing the season behind closed doors.

"When you play behind closed doors it still means bringing together a fairly large group of people. You need ambulances, doctors, paramedics. They're mandatory. Police may be needed too. Why bring them all to a football match when in this crisis they will be needed elsewhere for things that are far more important?

"I wouldn't be comfortable playing a game knowing there were people dying or very sick because of coronavirus and we're taking those workers away from the front line."

Despite enjoying two spells at Everton and spending 13 years at Manchester United, Rooney hailed his former clubs' rivals Liverpool as deserving winners of the Premier League and tipped them to finish the job when the season resumes.

Derby are 12th in the Championship but only five points outside the play-off positions, and Rooney underlined the importance of avoiding the legal ramifications that abandonment of the current season would trigger.

"The FA helped to clarify that the league season will finish and that is fair," said the 34-year-old striker.

"Liverpool will win the Premier League. [They] have been fantastic. They have put so much work in. They deserve this title. Can you imagine waiting 30 years and then having it taken away like this? The right decision has been made.

"It's also right in terms of promotion and relegation and places. These issues are so big for the clubs involved that I imagine there would be a lot of legal fights if the season was just abandoned. The fair thing is to finish 2019-20 — even if we have to lose next season in the process."

Football may be on hiatus in most of Europe and across the globe due to coronavirus, but Fabian Ruiz's future is still making headlines.

The Napoli and Spain star has established himself as one of the best midfielders on the continent since arriving from Real Betis in 2018.

Now, Liverpool are desperate to prise Fabian to Anfield but they have competition.

 

TOP STORY – REDS MAKE FABIAN TOP TARGET

Napoli midfielder Fabian Ruiz is Liverpool's top transfer target, reports The Express.

Fabian has attracted interest from his homeland, where LaLiga giants Barcelona and Real Madrid are battling for the Spain international's signature.

However, Premier League leaders Liverpool are ready to pay £74million (€80m) for Fabian.

 

ROUND-UP

- The Mirror says Manchester United – led by executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward – have re-opened talks with star midfielder Paul Pogba's agent Rino Raiola. It comes amid uncertainty over Pogba, who continues to be linked to Madrid and former club Juventus.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic will leave Milan at the end of the season, reports Sport Mediaset. The 38-year-old return to San Siro on a one-year and had been discussing a renewal before chief football officer Zvonimir Boban was sacked, angering the Swede.

Liverpool and Arsenal are among a number of clubs monitoring Eintracht Frankfurt's Evan Ndicka, claims Sky Sports. The defender has also been linked to Milan, Inter, Valencia and Sevilla.

- According to The Mirror, Chelsea, United, Arsenal and Tottenham have enquired about Barca's Philippe Coutinho, who is on loan at Bayern Munich.

United are confident of beating Borussia Dortmund to the signing of Birmingham City's 16-year-old sensation Jude Bellingham.

- Celtic striker Odsonne Edouard is being eyed by Arsenal, The Mirror reports, amid doubts over Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. Aubameyang has been linked to Paris Saint-Germain and United.

Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has paid tribute to "incredible human being" Peter Whittingham following the former Cardiff City midfielder's death at the age of 35.

Cardiff confirmed on Thursday that Whittingham had passed away after reportedly suffering head injuries in an accidental fall last week.

Whittingham represented Aston Villa, Burnley, Derby County and Blackburn Rovers during a 15-year playing career but was best associated for his decade at Cardiff.

Solskjaer, who spent nearly nine months working with the Villa academy product in south Wales, told United's official website: "I was deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Peter Whittingham.

"Peter was a fantastic footballer and an incredible human being. I thoroughly enjoyed working with him during my time at Cardiff City.

"It's hard to believe that he has been taken from us at such a young age. Peter will be deeply missed and our thoughts are with his family at this very sad time."

Whittingham was twice Cardiff's Player of the Year and was named in the Football League Team of the Decade for 2005-2015.

Juventus star Aaron Ramsey started his career with the Welsh club and paid a touching tribute of his own to his former team-mate on Instagram.

"I will forever be grateful for you taking me under your wing," he said, accompanied by a picture of the pair playing together in their Cardiff days.

"You were one of the most technical and gifted players I've played with and that left foot of yours was like a wand.

"I'm proud to have played alongside you and will always remember the young vs old games and you just running the show.

"My thoughts and prayers go out to your family, rest in peace Whitts, was too young."

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