A number of Premier League stars have put signed shirts up for a charity raffle to raise money for health services in the United Kingdom during the coronavirus pandemic.

Top-flight players launched their '#PlayersTogether' fund in April, an initiative in which they would work with NHS Charities Together.

In the latest development on Wednesday, players donated over 500 signed jerseys to the Shirts for Heroes raffle on eBay, with each ticket costing £5.

Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson, who was said to be prominent in the initial movement, was among those to post of their involvement on Twitter.

Henderson and team-mate Virgil van Dijk each quickly gathered more than 150 ticket sales.

Manchester City's midfield duo Kevin De Bruyne and David Silva were also involved, along with Manchester United skipper Harry Maguire.

Lautaro Martinez's move to Barcelona is seemingly getting closer.

The star Inter forward has been linked to the LaLiga giants, although questions have been raised over whether Barca can find a deal to land the 22-year-old.

But the Argentina international could be nearing a switch to Camp Nou.

 

TOP STORY – LAUTARO, BARCELONA AGREE TO FIVE-YEAR DEAL

Martinez and Barcelona have reached an agreement on a five-year deal at about €12million per season plus bonuses, according to Sport.

The report says Inter have given up on the star forward, but are yet to reach an agreement with Barcelona.

Martinez has scored 16 goals in 31 games this season.

ROUND-UP

- Bayern Munich have already decided not to purchase Philippe Coutinho, who has been linked with an extended stay on loan. However, Sport Bild reports there is no chance the playmaker stays in Munich.

- Timo Werner is reportedly a target for Liverpool, but another Premier League club could be making their move. The Telegraph claims Chelsea are plotting a move for the RB Leipzig forward.

- Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang's Arsenal future remains uncertain. The Telegraph reports head coach Mikel Arteta is trying to persuade the striker to stay at the Premier League club, while The Sun says Arsenal will keep Aubameyang until the end of his contract in 2021 if they cannot get more than £20m for him this close season.

- Could Eric Garcia return to Barcelona? Sport reports the LaLiga giants are tracking the defender, who came through their youth system before joining Manchester City in 2018.

- Having impressed at Lyon, Houssem Aouar may be ready for a move. According to CalcioMercato, the attacker would prefer a switch to Juventus over Manchester City.

- After contract talks with Newcastle United broke down, Matty Longstaff could be heading abroad. The Times says the midfielder is set for a move to Serie A, with Udinese frontrunners to sign the 20-year-old.

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola still dreams of managing a national team in the future, according to his brother Pere Guardiola.

Pep Guardiola has never hidden his desire to lead an international team at a major tournament and has been heavily linked with Argentina and Brazil in the past.

The Catalan coach previously suggested taking charge of Spain was "unlikely" and he has a contract with City until the end of next season.

Pere Guardiola, who is an agent, part owner of LaLiga side Girona and this week opened a branch of his Media Base Sports company in Brazil, said a role outside of the club arena still appeals to his brother.

Brazil has recently seen an increased investment in foreign coaches, with Jorge Jesus, Jesualdo Ferreira, Jorge Sampaoli, Eduardo Coudet and Rafael Dudamel all having spells in charge of top-flight clubs.

Asked if Guardiola could ever take charge of a Campeonato Brasileiro side or the Selecao, Pere Guardiola told Globo Esporte: "Brazil has won everything with Brazilian coaches. I think you have good coaches, you don't have to have only foreigners.

"Pep has a dream of coaching a national team someday, but we'll see how it goes; what will be the moment, if he will receive an offer.

"It is not something for the present."

City are set to lose their Premier League crown to Liverpool in 2019-20, as they sit 25 points off the leaders with 10 games left to play.

The defending champions are set to play their first game in three months on June 17, with the coronavirus pandemic having forced the season's suspension in March.

Sergio Aguero might struggle for somewhere to put his birthday cards, given his living room cabinets are liberally decorated with hat-trick balls and man-of-the-match trophies.

But if the social media window into the home life of Manchester City's all-time leading scorer has shown he is unlikely to be celebrated for his approach to interior design any time soon, fans can relish one of the modern game's elite goal-getters soon returning to action.

Aguero brought up a double landmark at the end of January – completing a record 12th Premier League hat-trick with his 250th City goal in a 6-1 demolition of Aston Villa.

Eric Brook's previous best mark of 177 was overhauled in a Champions League win at Napoli in 2017 and, as he turns 32, Aguero has considerable daylight between himself and the rest in the club record books.

Alan Shearer, whose hat-trick mark he surpassed, is still the division's leading scorer by some distance with 260, although Wayne Rooney (208) in second and third-placed Andy Cole (187) are vulnerable to Aguero, who is fourth on 180.

Going back to when he first moved to Atletico Madrid from Independiente as a teenager, Aguero has 254 league goals in 376 starts across LaLiga and the Premier League.

Since joining City in 2011-12, his top-flight haul places him seventh among all players in Europe's top five leagues.

Naturally, Lionel Messi (319) and Cristiano Ronaldo (287) are way ahead over that period, but how does Aguero compare to the best of the rest?

Using Opta data, we compared Messi's Argentina colleague with a group of his contemporaries who might also lay claim to being the finest out-and-out number nines of their era.

Record in Europe's top five leagues since 2011-12

GOALS

Sergio Aguero (Manchester City) - 180
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Saint-Etienne, Borussia Dortmund, Arsenal) - 182
Karim Benzema (Real Madrid) -139
Edinson Cavani (Napoli, Paris Saint-Germain) - 190
Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Milan, PSG, Manchester United) - 161
Harry Kane (Tottenham) - 136
Robert Lewandowski (Dortmund, Bayern Munich) - 223
Luis Suarez (Liverpool Barcelona) – 207

Like Aguero, a striker to have thrived despite the particular demands Pep Guardiola places upon his centre forward is Bayern star Robert Lewandowski. He is out in front within this elite group and showing no signs of slowing down. Luis Suarez is the only other man through the 200 barrier during the period in question, which Messi and Ronaldo handily obliterated.

MINUTES PER GOAL

Aguero – 106.9
Aubameyang – 130.8
Benzema – 146.5
Cavani – 110.4
Ibrahimovic – 101.3
Kane – 120.6
Lewandowski – 106.4
Suarez - 114.4

While he is outscored by an esteemed handful of his counterparts, few can match Aguero when it comes to efficiency. His 106.9 goals per minute is another all-time Premier League best (for players with a minimum of 20 goals) and is almost identical to Lewandowski's figure. Zlatan Ibrahimovic sits atop this metric – as the man himself would no doubt expect – thanks largely to a brutally prolific four-year spell at PSG.

SHOT CONVERSION PERCENTAGE

Aguero – 18.2
Aubameyang – 20.1
Benzema – 18.2
Cavani – 21.1
Ibrahimovic – 18.7
Kane – 18
Lewandowski – 19.8
Suarez – 18.6

There is little to choose between them here, although Aguero ranking second-bottom is a little surprising given his superb goals-per-minute record. Within the group, only Harry Kane scores with a lower percentage of his shots. Edinson Cavani, who has dutifully performed in the shadow of other star turns in Paris, is the most lethal.

ASSISTS

Aguero – 46
Aubameyang – 46
Benzema – 71
Cavani – 31
Ibrahimovic – 50
Kane – 20
Lewandowski – 43
Suarez – 88

Aguero's involvement in City's all-round game has unquestionably improved under Guardiola and he is closing in on a half-century of assists – matching Aubameyang's number in 31 fewer appearances.

Playing alongside Messi and Ronaldo looks a good way to feather your stats in this regard, with only CR7's old Madrid foil Karim Benzema coming close to Suarez, the S in the MSN forward line that delighted under Luis Enrique. Ibrahimovic might not be noted for his selflessness as Suarez and Benzema are, but he again ranks impressively, while Lewandowski's all-round game is to the fore once more.

Atletico Madrid midfielder Saul Niguez sent social media into overdrive with a cryptic tweet on Sunday.

Spain international Saul posted a graphic with the words: "New club. I'll announce it [in] three days."

Followers immediately thought an impending transfer was coming, but the 25-year-old has another six years left to run on a contract that includes a reported €150million release clause.

While reports in the Spanish media insist the tweet has nothing to do with Saul's future, it echoed Antoine Griezmann famously announcing his Atletico future in a documentary entitled 'La Decision' in 2018. Griezmann confirmed he would be remaining at the club, only to leave for Barcelona a year later.

It has also been claimed Saul is set to announce he has bought part of a club or even invested in an esports team.

So even though it is highly unlikely Saul will reveal he is leaving the Wanda Metropolitano just a week before LaLiga resumes following its suspension due to the coronavirus pandemic, we look at who could be in the market for one of the world's best midfielders.

 

Manchester United

United have long been credited with an interest in the Atleti star, but they shelled out an initial £46.5m (€55m) on Bruno Fernandes in January. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer hopes Fernandes can form a formidable midfield partnership with Paul Pogba, but the Frenchman's future at Old Trafford remains a constant source speculation.

Manchester City

The Red Devils would face competition from local rivals City, though. Fernandinho is not getting any younger and spent much of the 2019-20 campaign at centre-back through necessity, and Pep Guardiola will be looking for a long-term successor who can anchor the club's midfield for the coming years.

Paris Saint-Germain

Any time an elite player is available, PSG will always be linked. The Ligue 1 champions have just completed the signing of Mauro Icardi for a reported €50m and having previously managed to get a UEFA investigation into their finances shut down, they will not be shy in splashing out further to improve their chances of getting their hands of the Champions League trophy.

Barcelona

With Ivan Rakitic expected to be on his way out, Barca's hunt for a new midfielder has reportedly had them looking in the direction of Juventus' Miralem Pjanic, though Arthur refused to be included as part of the deal. The Blaugrana have never been afraid to shell out huge amounts of money and LaLiga's defending champions would no doubt be in the race if Saul was available.

Bayern Munich

Manuel Neuer has signed a new deal at Bayern and David Alaba is set to follow soon, but Thiago Alcantara has reportedly hesitated over extending a contract that is set to expire at the end of next season. Hansi Flick could therefore be in the market for an elite midfielder and Saul would fit the bill. However, Bayern have long maintained they will not spend over €100m on a player.

Other options

If Pjanic is on his way to Barca, and with Adrien Rabiot's future at Juve shrouded in doubt, the Serie A champions would surely see Saul as an ideal candidate to slot into their midfield.

Maurizio Sarri coached Jorginho at Napoli and Chelsea, though, and the Italy international is said to be a target for the Bianconeri. Should he leave Stamford Bridge, the Blues could see Saul as a great replacement.

Bayern Munich president Herbert Hainer has underlined his club's interest in Leroy Sane – stating every team in the world would like to have the Manchester City winger.

Germany international Sane has long been touted as a target for Bayern, with a move thought to be close last August before the 24-year-old suffered anterior cruciate ligament damage during City's Community Shield clash with Liverpool.

Sane has not played competitively since but Bayern's desire to bring the former Schalke man back to the Bundesliga does not appear to have waned.

"Leroy Sane is a good player that every team would like to have," Hainer told BR.

"It has been known for a year now that we have been interested. He is still under contract with Man City. We have to see how things develop."

Hainer's predecessor Uli Hoeness expressed hope that the deal can be done last weekend and there has been near constant noise from various prominent Bayern figures over Sane's future.

Not all of those have been positive, however, with former full-back Willy Sagnol expressing unspecified doubts over the character of a player who was surprisingly omitted from Germany's 2018 World Cup squad.

"Leroy Sane is certainly an interesting personality, above all because of his performance on the pitch," Hainer added.

"He is also a marketable player, especially for the young demographic."

One player who is certain to arrive at the Allianz Arena for next season is Alexander Nubel, with the goalkeeper's switch from Schalke already sealed.

Nubel will bring fresh competition for long-standing number one Manuel Neuer, who penned a contract extension until 2023 last month.

Former Bayern keeper and current board member Oliver Kahn insists this does not mean a loan move is in the offing for the 23-year-old.

"Nobody thinks about a loan here, we are all happy that Alex comes to us," he told Sky90. "There is nothing better than having two excellent goalkeepers.

"It was a sensible decision at the time, to get Nubel free of charge. It is a path he is taking - to accept the situation with Manuel Neuer and to line up behind Manuel Neuer, in his slipstream.

"[Nubel is to] gradually become number one."

There are some days in English football history that stand out as turning points.

On May 31, 1995 – a full 25 years ago – Chelsea agreed a deal to sign Ruud Gullit from Sampdoria. And the face of the game changed.

The fledgling Premier League had experienced a sprinkling of overseas talent already, with Eric Cantona making a staggering impact at Leeds United and Manchester United, and Jurgen Klinsmann coming off a season-long cameo at Tottenham.

Superstar Gullit's arrival at Stamford Bridge was the cue for a transfer-market melee, a spectacular flurry of deals that still take the breath away.

To this day, a host of players recruited in the wake of Gullit's arrival, many imported from overseas, are revered in the top bracket of talent that graced their clubs and the Premier League.

Dennis Bergkamp came to Arsenal with a lofty reputation. But David Ginola, Juninho and Georgi Kinkladze joined Newcastle United, Middlesbrough and Manchester City as near-unknowns in England, destined to join the pantheon of club greats.

Euro 96 was on the horizon, lads and ladettes were supping Hooch and bathing in a summer of Britpop battles, and there was feverish optimism about the state of the nation.

Here is a look at the biggest deals of that heady few months.

RUUD GULLIT ​– SAMPDORIA TO CHELSEA

A world star, who was arguably the finest player on the planet at his peak, Gullit may not have been at the height of his career by the time he arrived in London on a free transfer, but there was no disguising the 32-year-old's star quality.

He rivalled Klinsmann as the most famous arrival since the Premier League launched in 1992, and was arguably in a higher bracket.

British television audiences had watched Gullit every week on Channel Four's popular Football Italia shows, firstly with Milan and then Sampdoria, and Chelsea manager Glenn Hoddle was smitten.

Hoddle reportedly made two trips to Italy to meet Gullit before the stunning deal went through, and the Netherlands maverick was recruited to feature as a sweeper in the new high-culture Chelsea side.

"I am very fit and by playing sweeper I can control the speed of the game," said Gullit, quoted in the Independent the following day. "If you have possession of the ball you don't have to run around chasing after it."

The sweeper experiment was soon abandoned, however, Gullit moving into a better-suited midfield role where he proved predictably majestic, going on to succeed Hoddle as Chelsea manager in 1996.

DENNIS BERGKAMP ​– INTER TO ARSENAL (and David Platt – Sampdoria to Arsenal)

Bergkamp was a real eye-catcher, joining for a then British record fee of £7.5million, albeit with question marks over his suitability for the Gunners, particularly after a rocky season at Inter.

Platt had been captain of England, and was a guaranteed solid midfield presence, but new Arsenal boss Bruce Rioch appreciated he was perhaps getting something special when Bergkamp became the first signing of his reign.

That overwhelmingly proved to be the case, and although Rioch only lasted one full season at Highbury, he could always point to his nurturing of Bergkamp as being instrumental in shaping Arsenal's future.

The non-flying Dutchman played 423 games for the Gunners, scoring 120 goals and winning a hatful of medals. Today, a bronze statue of Bergkamp stands outside Arsenal's Emirates Stadium home.

DAVID GINOLA ​– PARIS SAINT-GERMAIN TO NEWCASTLE (and Les Ferdinand – QPR to Newcastle)

Newcastle had surprisingly allowed Andy Cole to join Manchester United for £7m in January 1995, but Kevin Keegan's team went from strength to strength nonetheless.

The £2.5m arrival of Ginola proved a masterstroke, the French winger magnificent on the left wing while Keith Gillespie, a makeweight in the Cole deal, dazzled on the right.

Ferdinand was the ideal targetman and proved to be another exceptional buy, but Ginola was the fans' favourite, his trickery, pace and personality lighting up the league.

Newcastle were almost champions, Ginola at the heart of some of the most cavalier football of the decade.

GEORGI KINKLADZE ​– DINAMO TBILISI TO MANCHESTER CITY

City fans are accustomed to success nowadays, brought to them by a foreign legion featuring the likes of Pep Guardiola, Sheikh Mansour, Sergio Aguero, Kevin De Bruyne and Vincent Kompany.

But there will always be a special place for Kinkladze in the hearts of City fans who saw him play in the Maine Road era, when Franny Lee was chairman and Uwe Rosler the star imported striker.

City were relegated from the Premier League in Kinkladze's first season, and he left in 1998 after a second relegation into the third tier, but the Georgian was a bright spark in dark times, his dribbling skills and free-kick ability never to be forgotten. A particularly memorable solo strike came against Southampton, a lasting gift.

STAN COLLYMORE ​– NOTTINGHAM FOREST TO LIVERPOOL

The British transfer record was broken twice in June 1995, firstly with Arsenal's swoop for Bergkamp and then when Liverpool paid £8.5m for Nottingham Forest striker Collymore.

He and Robbie Fowler formed an often menacing partnership, particularly in Collymore's first season at Anfield, but the big-money recruit lasted just two seasons with Liverpool in the 'Spice Boys' era before moving to Aston Villa for £7m.

PAUL INCE ​– MANCHESTER UNITED TO INTER

Pipped to the 1994-95 Premier League title by Blackburn Rovers, Manchester United cleared the decks and allowed star men Ince, Mark Hughes and Andrei Kanchelskis to leave Old Trafford.

It was a stunning gamble by Alex Ferguson, with Hughes and Kanchelskis joining Premier League rivals Chelsea and Everton respectively, while midfield general Ince floated off to Italy with Inter for £7.5m.

But Ferguson knew his Class of 92 youngsters were pushing for a chance at first-team level, and with the likes of David Beckham, Paul Scholes and Nicky Butt emerging, the old guard were barely missed, United going on to win a league and cup double.

JUNINHO ​– SAO PAULO TO MIDDLESBROUGH

This £4.75m move went through slightly later in the year, in October 1995, back when clubs could strike autumn deals.

Bryan Robson would bring in Fabrizio Ravanelli in the following close-season, but none of the Middlesbrough manager's signings are remembered quite so fondly as Juninho.

The little Brazilian was a marvel of an attacker, a low centre of gravity helping him to ride the wildest of tackles from defenders who could not handle his dribbling ability.

On Teesside, they adored the Brazilian, who began brightly enough but truly dazzled in his second season, helping Boro to reach both the FA Cup and League Cup finals.

They lost both and suffered the pain of relegation. Juninho left too, but returned for two later spells with the club that loved him best of all, winning the 2004 League Cup.

...MEANWHILE, NORTH OF THE BORDER

PAUL GASCOIGNE ​– LAZIO TO RANGERS

Chelsea had reportedly wanted Gascoigne to join Gullit in west London, but it was Scottish champions Rangers who prised the England international from Lazio, a massive coup for the Ibrox club.

'Gazza' was adored on the blue side of Glasgow and scored a raft of dazzling goals as Rangers won their eighth and ninth successive league titles.

Forgiveness even came quickly after his stunning strike past club-mate Andy Goram for England against Scotland at Euro 96.

Bayern Munich have been warned Leroy Sane would be a poor fit for the club as the Bundesliga giants continue to be linked with the Germany winger.

The former Schalke player is coming towards the end of his fourth year at Manchester City.

He looked set for a switch to Bayern last year before suffering a major knee ligament injury in the Community Shield against Liverpool in August.

Having battled his way back to fitness, Bayern are again looking set for an attempt to land the 24-year-old.

Former Bayern defender Willy Sagnol says his old club would be better off chasing Bayer Leverkusen's 20-year-old rising star Kai Havertz, however, claiming Sane simply does not fit the bill.

"He doesn't match up at all to Bayern, in terms of character. He's an inconsistent player, who is very withdrawn," Sagnol told French radio station RMC.

"For me, he isn't made for this club.

"He's got lots of problems, at Manchester City and with the national team. We've said that he'd cost €80million. At a pinch, I'd prefer to put down €20m more and buy Havertz to be happy.

"With Havertz, it's the guarantee of a playmaker that you could play with Lewandowski without a problem. [Thomas] Muller won't last forever."

Former Bayern president Uli Hoeness said on Saturday he hoped the club could sign Havertz as well as Sane, but he cast doubt on whether financial realities would allow for that.

Former Bayern Munich president Uli Hoeness foresees "a new era" at the club as he hopes Kai Havertz could follow Leroy Sane in joining the Bundesliga leaders.

Bayern are widely expected to sign Manchester City winger Sane in the upcoming transfer window, having seen a previous move for the Germany international hindered by a long-term injury.

The Bavarian giants were seven points clear of nearest challengers Borussia Dortmund ahead of Saturday's match against Fortuna Dusseldorf as they close on an eighth straight title.

With that side potentially boosted by Sane's arrival, Hoeness - a member of Bayern's supervisory board after his presidency ended - is excited for the future.

"I believe that we are on the threshold of a relatively great generation," he told BR.

"When I think that we managed to extend with Manuel Neuer, and we have Joshua Kimmich, Niklas Sule, Robert Lewandowski and hopefully David Alaba and Thiago Alcantara [also agreeing contracts], and I also hope with Leroy Sane, with [Kingsley] Coman, [Serge] Gnabry, a young, developable team.

"I can imagine, if everything goes well, that a new era is just beginning at Bayern Munich."

Bayer Leverkusen sensation Havertz would appear to belong among such company, with predictable links to Bayern emerging amid a wonderful season in which he has produced 11 goals and five assists in 26 Bundesliga starts.

Hoeness made no secret of his desire to have Havertz join Bayern, yet he acknowledged the potential difficulties of another major signing amid the financial uncertainty created by the coronavirus pandemic.

"We would certainly like to have Kai Havertz," Hoeness added. "But at the moment, it is so that one does not know exactly what the economic future of all football is.

"I would like to see him in Munich from a sporting perspective, but as of today I honestly cannot imagine it, although I would like to see it."

Riyad Mahrez believes Manchester City have everything required to win the Champions League.

The coronavirus pandemic has wreaked havoc globally, halting many leagues and competitions since March, including the Champions League and Premier League, but Algerian winger Mahrez is relishing a return to action.

City stunned Real Madrid 2-1 at the Santiago Bernabeu in the opening leg of their Champions League last-16 tie in February before the postponement.

The Champions League could resume in August and City star Mahrez is confident Pep Guardiola's side can deliver a maiden European crown.

"I think it is a good time to win the Champions League," Mahrez said. "We have the team, we have the manager, we have everything, so it is a good time. I don't know if we are the best, but we are good enough to win it.

"The Champions League is difficult, everyone wants to win it, so it is going to be a big battle."

The Premier League is set to return on June 17, with 92 matches still to be played following the coronavirus crisis.

Defending champions City were second and 25 points adrift of runaway leaders Liverpool, though they had a game in hand.

Mahrez said: "It was a bit long without football, but we adapted and now we are back, so it is good. With the pandemic going on [training at home and doing online sessions with the group] is something we had to respect and now we have come back to training it is very good.

"Step by step we are getting fitter, so it is good. I am excited. It was good to see my team-mates and the coaches again. It was good to train with everyone and we have had very good weather as well!"

He added: "I think we were good [before the break].

"I wouldn't say we were at our peak, but it was good. We are going to train again and come back because it has stopped for everyone, not just us. It is going to take time to come back and be the way we were before, but it is the same for every team."

Over three months after the ball was last kicked, the Premier League is set to restart on June 17.

There have been major doubts over whether the 2019-20 season could be finished amid the coronavirus pandemic, but the action is set to resume in less than three weeks - subject to government approval.

Liverpool were cruising their way to becoming champions of England for the first time in 30 years when the campaign was halted and are poised to lift the trophy behind closed doors.

There may be no title race to look forward to, but it is all to play for in the battle to stay up and European qualification is there for the taking.

We look at the season so far and what is to come in a hectic schedule, with all but four teams having nine matches to play.

 

What is the state of play?

leading the defending champions - who have a game in hand - by a mammoth 25 points.

Watford are the only side to have beaten the European champions, who have had the champagne on ice for months and may have to play higher profile matches at neutral venues.

Norwich City, Aston Villa and Bournemouth are in the relegation zone, with Watford, West Ham and Brighton and Hove Albion also in danger of being consigned to the drop.

Bottom side Norwich are six points adrift of Watford and West Ham, who are only out of the bottom three on goal difference.

Fifth place will be good enough for Champions League qualification if City fail to overturn a ban from the competition and several sides are in the hunt to play in Europe's premier club competition.

Third-placed Leicester City look to be heading for the Champions League, while Chelsea are fourth and three points ahead of Manchester United.

Six points separate seven clubs from United down to Crystal Palace, with Sheffield United the surprise package and one of the stories of the season in seventh place.

 

What have been the big controversies?

A two-year Champions League ban imposed on City by UEFA for allegedly breaching Financial Fair Play rules in February rocked Pep Guardiola's side.

City have appealed against the verdict and June 8-10 is when the case will be heard at the Court of Arbitration for Sport, with concerns for Guardiola that he could lose key players if they are unsuccessful.

Tottenham's decision to sack Mauricio Pochettino came as a shock in November and the north-London club swiftly appointed Jose Mourinho as his successor.

It came as no surprise when Unai Emery was fired by Arsenal soon after Pochettino's departure, with the Gunners turning to Mikel Arteta to replace his fellow Spaniard.

 

Who had momentum before everything stopped?

United were on a roll before the hiatus, putting together an unbeaten run of 11 games in all competitions to stand well poised for a Champions League berth.

Arsenal had gone eight without defeat in the top flight, winning three in a row prior to the season being suspended, while Burnley had not lost in seven games to move up to 10th.

 

Which clubs have had it toughest during the COVID-19 months?

Liverpool and Tottenham were among the teams who were strongly criticised for using the government furlough scheme for non-playing staff and duly changed their mind.

Jack Grealish, Kyle Walker and Moise Kean were among the players who were caught flouting lockdown regulations.

Spurs and Arsenal players also hit the headlines for the wrong reasons for breaching social distancing rules.

The league was suspended after Arteta and Callum Hudson-Odoi contracted COVID-19, while three rounds of coronavirus testing at Premier League clubs in the past fortnight have returned 12 positive results.

Liverpool look set to clinch the Premier League title at a neutral venue as part of a request from police.

The 2019-20 top-flight season is set to return on June 17 following a lengthy delay due to the coronavirus pandemic, with all fixtures to be staged behind closed doors.

Most will take place at the scheduled venues, though local police have asked for six – including the game in which Jurgen Klopp's side could wrap up the league – to be moved.

The Reds sit 25 points clear at the top of the table and require just two more victories to be crowned champions for the first time in 30 years.

The Merseyside derby is among the list revealed by police, as well as Liverpool's trips to reigning champions Manchester City and Newcastle United.

City's clash with Newcastle is also included, plus Manchester United against Sheffield United.

Deputy chief constable Mark Roberts – the national football policing lead – said in a statement: "Our discussions with the Premier League throughout this process have been positive, with a shared focus on the priority of public health.

"As such we have reached a consensus that balances the needs of football, while also minimising the demand on policing. The majority of remaining matches will be played at home and away as scheduled, with a small number of fixtures taking place at neutral venues, which, contrary to some reports, have yet to be agreed.

"The views and agreement of forces which host Premier League clubs have been sought and where there were concerns, the Premier League has been supportive in providing flexibility in arranging alternative venues where requested.

"This plan will be kept continually under review to ensure public health and safety and a key part of this is for supporters to continue to respect the social distancing guidelines, and not to attend or gather outside the stadiums."

The FA Cup quarter-finals have been provisionally rescheduled for June 27 and June 28, with the final set to be staged on August 1.

Friday's announcement by the Football Association (FA) came a day after it was revealed the Premier League season is due to restart on June 17.

There has been no football in England since the campaign was halted due to the coronavirus crisis in March.

Norwich City are due to face Manchester United, with Sheffield United taking on Arsenal, Manchester City up against Newcastle United and Leicester City meeting Chelsea in the last eight of the FA Cup.

The weekend of July 11-12 is when the semi-finals are provisionally set to take place, with further information on venues and timings to be announced in due course.

FA chief executive officer Mark Bullingham said: "We are pleased to agree the provisional restart date for the 2019-20 Emirates FA Cup.

"The competition has been an integral part of the English football calendar for nearly 150 years, and we'd like to thank the Premier League executive and clubs for their support in scheduling the remaining matches during this unprecedented time.

"This has been a difficult period for many people and, while this is a positive step, the restart date is dependent on all safety measures being met. The health and wellbeing of players, staff and supporters remains our priority."

Could Spain international Fabian Ruiz be set for a return to his homeland?

Former Real Betis star Fabian, who now plays for Napoli in Serie A, is a reported target for Barcelona and Real Madrid.

The Spanish rivals are trying to lure Fabian back to LaLiga.

 

TOP STORY – BARCA, MADRID DO BATTLE FOR FABIAN

Barcelona and Real Madrid are set to battle each other for the signing of Napoli star Fabian Ruiz, according to Gazzetta dello Sport.

Spanish midfielder Fabian has been linked with a return to LaLiga throughout the season, having left Real Betis for Napoli in 2018.

Despite the coronavirus pandemic, Napoli are expecting Barca and Madrid to go head-to-head for Fabian – who is contracted to the Serie A side until 2023.

 

ROUND-UP

- L'Equipe says Inter have made an offer for Arsenal forward Alexandre Lacazette. With Inter star Lautaro Martinez linked to Barca, the Nerazzurri are eyeing alternatives, however, Lacazette is not interested in swapping London for Milan.

- There could be some big changes at Madrid in 2022. AS Diario says Los Blancos want Paris Saint-Germain's Kylian Mbappe and Borussia Dortmund sensation Erling Haaland to team up with Eden Hazard in a new strike force. The likes of Karim Benzema, Gareth Bale and Isco will be out of contract at the end of the 2021-22 season.

Juventus are ready to negotiate a deal for Santos teenager Kaio Jorge, according to Calciomercato. Santos are demanding €30million for the 18-year-old, though Juve are only prepared to pay €15m.

- The Daily Mail claims Manchester City and Newcastle United have joined Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid in the race for 18-year-old Penarol winger Facundo Pellistri.

Odion Ighalo is prepared to pass on a £75m contract with Shanghai Shenhua to stay at Manchester United, reports the Daily Star. Ighalo's loan deal is set to expire at Old Trafford.

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.