Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba is relishing a return to football having been out of action since December due to a combination of injury and the coronavirus pandemic.

Professional sport in England is still on hold as a nationwide lockdown continues amid the COVID-19 crisis.

While the Bundesliga is set to restart later in May, discussions over whether it will be possible for the Premier League season to resume remain ongoing, with Ligue 1 and the Eredivisie having already ended their campaigns.

Pogba was just nearing a return to fitness when the season was halted in March, having been restricted to just eight appearances for United this term, and the World Cup winner is chomping at the bit to get back on the field.

"I really miss football," Pogba told fashion designer Stella McCartney in an interview as part of Adidas' 'The Huddle' series.

"I've been injured, so I’ve been training by myself for around seven months now - when I was going back to the pitch, the coronavirus situation arose, so we stopped everything.

"I want to come back and obviously do great. I've been missing a lot of games, and I want to be the best obviously. So when I will come back I want to be the best and when I'm at home there's no excuse."

Pogba also told McCartney he has been getting creative in a bid to keep fit during lockdown.

"I've been in the house working. I made a little pitch in my house, a football pitch so I can train, it's like a small mini-football pitch where I just now play with my son, we're just playing inside," he added.

"We just go in there and there are balls everywhere and you play. With my wife sometimes we do yoga stretches."

Manchester United assistant coach Michael Carrick has emphasised the importance of players' mental welfare as the club steps up its training programme.

While the United Kingdom remains in lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic, discussions are ongoing over the possibility of concluding the Premier League season when it is safe to do so.

Though bans on professional sport in France and the Netherlands has forced the cancellation of the Ligue 1 and Eredivisie campaigns, the Bundesliga will restart later this month, while LaLiga is aiming for a return to action in June.

United have now made remote training sessions for players – which were previously optional – compulsory, though Carrick, an assistant to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer at Old Trafford, acknowledges that the mental health of the players is a priority.

"Primarily, we're talking about getting back to fitness and playing games but also it's about if they're okay [psychologically]," he said on MUTV.

"Like all of us, you want to make sure your friends and families are okay. The players are, obviously, part of our family and we want to make sure that, as humans, they're all right and then the sport and lifestyle can come after that.

"At the start, we left the lads alone [doing their own fitness routines] because we were quite relaxed about it and could probably sense that it could be a good few weeks or months [before the team was back training together].

"We were conscious of not being too intense with them at the start and then gradually increased it as we go along. As of this week, they're now on compulsory sessions.

"It's good and we're just desperate to come back. They're looking forward to getting back to what they know best. We're just staying in touch and seeing what's next, like everyone else."

Carrick added the uncertainty surrounding a potential restart is still an issue, despite the club doing what they can to maintain some form of normality.

"That's the biggest challenge: not really having a return date," said Carrick.

"That's why we've tried to gradually increase training and we're just giving ourselves the best chance to be ready, if, and when, we start.

"It's the same as everyone - it's not just about us and the players; it's about everyone, in every walk of life. Everyone has got jobs to go back to and not knowing is the biggest issue. You can't plan and you're not sure what's next."

Paulo Dybala hopes to again play with former Juventus team-mate Paul Pogba in the future.

Argentina forward Dybala starred alongside Pogba for a single season before the midfielder departed the Bianconeri to return to Manchester United in 2016.

Pogba has repeatedly been linked with a second move away from Old Trafford in recent seasons, however.

Real Madrid have been hotly tipped to bid for the World Cup winner, yet former club Juve are also said to be in the running.

Dybala would appear keen for such a transfer to materialise, as he highlighted his positive relationship with Pogba as he showed off a collection of matchworn shirts on UEFA.com.

"I couldn't overlook a shirt like this, of course," Dybala said, referring to a United shirt from Juve's 1-0 Champions League win in Manchester in 2018.

"It's from Manchester, from my friend Paul, whom I admire as a person even more than as a football player.

"I had the chance to share great things with him and hopefully I can repeat that someday."

Dybala scored Juve's winner at Old Trafford and added: "To score and to win a game in that way makes it even sweeter, and to be able to swap shirts with your friend is one of the most beautiful things you can do in football."

The possibility of Dybala following Pogba to United was mooted last year as the Bianconeri preferred to build around former Old Trafford favourite Cristiano Ronaldo.

But Juve sporting director Fabio Paratici last week told Sky Sport Italia the club wanted Dybala to "stay with us for as long as possible" as they target a contract renewal.

Marcus Rashford can be one of the best attackers in the world, according to Manchester United team-mate Nemanja Matic.

England international Rashford has scored 19 goals and supplied five assists in 31 appearances for United this season, making it the most prolific campaign of his career.

The 22-year-old has not featured since the 1-0 FA Cup third-round replay win over Wolves in January, having sustained a double stress fracture in his back.

With the Premier League not expected to restart until mid-June due to the coronavirus pandemic, Rashford may be fit enough to help United push for Champions League qualification.

Asked to name United's best player by the Guardian, Matic said: "We have a lot of young players, but they have maybe not reached their top yet, but Marcus Rashford has the ability to be one of the best players in the world in his position.

"He's still improving, but he has everything to reach that top level."

The stoppage in global football came as United were enjoying an 11-game unbeaten run that saw them keep nine clean sheets.

Their upturn in form came shortly after the signing of Bruno Fernandes from Sporting CP in a deal potentially worth £67.6million (€80m).

Fernandes has been involved in seven goals (three scored, four assisted) in his nine appearances and Matic was not expecting the Portugal international to have such an immediate impact.

"Because I follow the Portuguese league, I knew he was good – even though he played for Sporting!" said former Benfica midfielder Matic.

"But I'm very surprised he adapted so quickly to the Premier League. He brings us a lot of qualities, like the confidence he has on the pitch – he always knows what he wants to do with the ball."

Matic is confident United are heading in the right direction under manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

He said: "Ole is a great manager. I think he has improved a lot since he came to United, and he is different now. I'm sure he has a great future here, and he will win us trophies."

The Champions League delivered drama in droves last season.

With the 2019-20 competition on hold for now, it is the perfect opportunity to remember just how crazy Europe's premier competition became 12 months ago.

In a run of games from early March to early May, the Champions League churned out a succession of classic contests that will live long in the memory.

Here we look back at three months where Europe's grown-up football tournament started behaving like a devil-may-care teenager and was all the better for it.

March 5, 2019: Real Madrid 1 Ajax 4 (3-5 agg)

Ajax's team of fearless young stars produced one of the great Champions League campaigns.

Despite their impressive display in a 2-1 first-leg defeat, nobody really seemed to think Erik ten Hag's side could turn things around in the last 16 at the Santiago Bernabeu. Sergio Ramos certainly did not – he earned a booking to avoid the risk of a quarter-final ban, earning an extra game suspension from UEFA in the process.

In the absence of their captain, Madrid completely capitulated to their fearless and thrilling opponents.

Hakim Ziyech and David Neres put the visitors 2-0 up after only 18 minutes and it was 3-0 just after the hour mark thanks to the inspired Dusan Tadic.

Marco Asensio got a goal back, but Lasse Schone's free-kick beat Thibaut Courtois and sent Madrid crashing out. It was the first time they had ever been knocked out after winning the first leg of a Champions League tie.

March 6, 2019: Paris Saint-Germain 1 Manchester United 3 (3-3 agg, United won on away goals)

A day on from Ajax's thrashing of Madrid, Manchester United made history at the Parc des Princes.

No side had ever won a knockout tie after trailing 2-0 from a first leg at home and with 10 senior players missing, including the banned Paul Pogba, United's chances looked slim.

Romelu Lukaku scored just two minutes in, though, and despite Juan Bernat's equaliser on the night, Lukaku struck again after a Gianluigi Buffon error to make it 2-1.

As the game crept towards second-half injury time, Diogo Dalot's shot struck Presnel Kimpembe's arm and the referee awarded a penalty after a lengthy VAR review. Marcus Rashford scored it, United progressed, and the clamour for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to be given the permanent manager's job grew louder.

April 17, 2019: Manchester City 4 Tottenham 3 (4-4 agg, Spurs win on away goals)

Tottenham scored through Son Heung-min in a tense, frenetic first leg. Crucially, as it turned out, City did not. They were not about to make the same mistake as Raheem Sterling thrashed an early opener past Hugo Lloris at the Eithad Stadium.

Son responded with two superb finishes of his own, leaving Pep Guardiola's side with a mountain to climb. They duly began to scale it. Bernardo Silva scored, Sterling scored again. There had only been 21 minutes played.

Something faintly resembling a normal football match broke out and Sergio Aguero finished emphatically to give City the lead in the tie for the first time in the 59th minute.

In a sight Ajax are now familiar with, Spurs looked spent until Fernando Llorente bundled them back into the lead on away goals. That advantage ultimately remained, but only after Sterling thought he had completed his hat-trick. Bedlam ensued until VAR showed Aguero was fractionally offside during the build-up.

May 7, 2019: Liverpool 4 Barcelona 0 (4-3 agg)

Fresh from netting a late winner at Newcastle United the weekend before, Divock Origi allowed the Liverpool faithful to dream by poaching his maiden Champions League goal in the seventh minute. Still, overturning the 3-0 advantage Barca had brought to Merseyside looked a tall order.

Jurgen Klopp needed Alisson to be on form as he saved from Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez, before another unlikely hero emerged.

Andy Robertson's injury forced James Milner to left-back and Georginio Wijnaldum into the fray at half-time. By the hour, the Dutch midfielder had Liverpool level thanks to two goals in 122 delirious seconds.

Origi had the final word thanks to Trent Alexander-Arnold's quick thinking from a 79th-minute corner, leaving Barcelona and Messi crestfallen.

May 8, Ajax 2 Tottenham 3 (3-3 agg, Spurs win on away goals)

As they did at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, Ajax made a smooth start and led through their inspirational captain Matthijs de Ligt in the fifth minute.

Ziyech emphatically made it 2-0 on the night and 3-0 on aggregate, but Lucas changed the complexion of the contest as he was supported by Dele Alli's intelligent running from midfield and Llorente's robust accompaniment in attack.

Ziyech hit the post and Spurs centre-back Jan Vertonghen hit the bar. Amsterdam held its breath and Lucas proved to be the coolest man in the stadium in the 96th minute, sending his side through to face Liverpool in Madrid, where the Reds ultimately prevailed.

Common Goal reached a milestone on Tuesday – 150 players or managers signed up to the charity movement.

Manchester City and Scotland star Caroline Weir made the pledge to commit one per cent of her income to sporting charities.

Led by Manchester United's Juan Mata and Street Football World, Common Goal was launched in 2017 – a project used to fund charities across the globe, which has raised more than €2million.

Mata, Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp, RB Leipzig head coach Julian Nagelsmann, UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin, Bayern Munich forward Serge Gnabry, Juventus defender Giorgio Chiellini and Borussia Dortmund's Mats Hummels are among the high-profile footballers to have joined the cause, while Danish outfit FC Nordsjaelland are the first professional club involved.

But it is the women – the likes of Weir, United States female stars Alex Morgan and Megan Rapinoe – female leadership and the new generation, led by 16-year-old Real Madrid youth-team player Bruno Iglesias and Wolfsburg's Xaver Schlager, shining through.

And while Common Goal has come a long way since its launch, the organisation is not resting on its laurels as it tackles the "greatest social challenges of our time" and eyes a collective effort.

"We reached 150 and it's a female, a 24-year-old, playing for Manchester City, she already has more than 70 caps for her country, she is doing her degree, she is a very smart woman, an extraordinary footballer," Ben Miller, one of the founding team of Common Goal, told Stats Perform. "It's very significant but again it's a woman or the female leadership that's shining through Common Goal.

"There's a huge diversity of players in this team of professionals and it's really reflective of football. Yes, Chiellini, Hummels, Gnabry and Klopp are there, and Casey Stoney, Alex Morgan and Megan Rapinoe but there's players from second and third divisions and that's what it's like.

"Football is like a triangle, not many are at the top of it. Interestingly in the female membership, most of the women are at the top of their profession, at the top of the triangle. If you look at the male membership, there are a significant number of high-profile players who have shown a great deal of faith in the model.

"If we work as a team, we can actually have a significant contribution to making the world a better place through football itself, with a mechanism which is transparent and high-impact and aligned to the UN sustainable development goal, so it has a clear track towards 2030. We're all very ambitious to see this work but we have a way to go before we reach a tipping point, where it really becomes a normal thing to do if you're an athlete."

"To start with a single player, and now it's 150, yes, it's amazing," he added. "But, one per cent of what the football industry generated last year would be €400million and there are a lot of football players. I'm happy but we have to continue to grow this and explain how simple it is. It's not one thing or the other. The way this will work is the power of the collective. I'm happy but we still have a long way to go and I think these landmarks are important because they give us a boost to keep going.

At a time of crisis as the coronavirus pandemic wreaks havoc globally, Common Goal has set up the COVID-19 Response Fund – supported by the UEFA Foundation for Children.

"It's not reinventing the wheel, it's using the existing network of football-based community projects that are in the heart of the communities that will be hardest hit by COVID-19," Miller said. "Caroline Weir for example, her donation will go towards the response fund. Existing members, who are coming up to the end of the year and will do another donation, they can choose to put that in the COVID-19 fund as well. You don't have to be a Common Goal member to participate, anyone can donate.

"The idea is to give immediate response but to give the mid- to long-term support that the organisations will need to re-establish themselves. All the programs are on hold, people need access to food and medicine, survival basics… help empower the young boys and girls."

Common Goal, though, is not without its challenges amid cynicism and a lack of trust within the football world towards charity organisations. Klopp made the pledge in front of a star-studded crowd during The Best FIFA Football Awards in September. However, no one made contact or wanted to find out about Common Goal following the announcement in Milan.

But with 90 per cent of donations going directly to charities, compared to 50 per cent in a lot of cases with other charities, Miller has faith in what Common Goal is building, thanks to its members – with several players donating significantly more than one per cent.

"You have a 16-year-old kid [Iglesias], who has made the decision, not to wait until he gets in Real Madrid's first team and the senior Spain team but he is going to do it now. He is going to make this part of his journey, no matter where he goes," Miller continued.

"This just gives me an incredible amount of faith in the future, that this new, younger generation of players who are embracing this from the word go. They're not going to wait until they reach a certain level and allow people to make these kinds of decisions for them. Because making this decision is a fundamental part of who they are as a human being."

Miller added: "It's the first time in our lifetime that a crisis that's happening in the real world has actually penetrated the bubble of elite football players. They've never been affected by anything before. The ones that are in touch are still in touch of what's happening – they're aware that there are 70 million displaced people because of the refugee crisis. But a lot simply aren't and it's not a criticism to them, it's just the world in which they live, it's very insular.

"We're all in the same boat. We're all the same – that's the fundamental message. If I don't care about you, you don't care about me, we don't care about what's happening in Australia, Spain or the UK, then we don't stand much of a chance of tackling any of the crises we face."

Lautaro Martinez has been tipped to swap Inter for Barcelona.

Martinez, though, has emerged as a target for Paris Saint-Germain.

But, LaLiga champions Barca reportedly remain calm about the situation.

 

TOP STORY – BARCA DON'T FEAR PSG AMID LAUTARO PURSUIT

Barcelona remain confident in their bid to sign Inter star Lautaro Martinez, according to Mundo Deportivo.

Martinez has been heavily linked with a move to the LaLiga champions, who view the Argentina international as a long-term replacement for Luis Suarez.

Recent reports have claimed Ligue 1 holders Paris Saint-Germain have emerged as suitors but Barca believe Martinez is committed to moving to Camp Nou.

ROUND-UP

- Calciomercato says Milan have contacted Real Madrid about signing Luka Jovic. The Serbia forward has struggled since arriving from Eintracht Frankfurt at the start of 2019-20. The report claims Milan are ready to spend €40million, while a two-year loan deal with a redemption obligation could happen. Meanwhile, Tuttomercato says Milan are eyeing a €20m move for Lyon star Memphis Depay, who is out of contract in June 2021.

Mauricio Pochettino is poised to become Newcastle United's next manager, according to Le10Sport. The former Tottenham boss has been linked amid Newcastle's prospective takeover.

- The Telegraph reports Manchester City and Bayern Munich are set to clash over Leroy Sane. The Germany international has reportedly agreed to join the Bundesliga champions, however, City are insulted by the £35m (€39.9m) valuation.

Juventus have opened talks with Jorginho as Maurizio Sarri looks to reunite with the Chelsea midfielder in Turin, says ESPN.

Manchester United are considering the prospect of delaying their move for Borussia Dortmund sensation Jadon Sancho due to the coronavirus pandemic, reports The Mirror.

Ander Herrera revealed his sadness at the way Paris Saint-Germain won Ligue 1 and admits he never planned to leave Manchester United.

Herrera said he had differences of opinion with the United board before walking out of Old Trafford to join French giants PSG as a free agent.

And while the streets of Paris are paved with gold for the modern player, given PSG's wealthy Qatari ownership, Herrera has been left deflated by how his first league season ended.

Like the Dutch Eredivisie, France's Ligue 1 was abandoned before crunch matters could be resolved on the pitch because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Runaway leaders PSG were declared champions, but it had a bittersweet taste for Spanish midfielder Herrera.

He yearned for the first championship of his career to be a jubilant moment to share with team-mates, in front of supporters.

"To be honest, I didn't celebrate it," Herrera told ESPN. "I love football but I love to play football and win trophies on the pitch."

The former Athletic Bilbao player added: "I hope we can fight for the cup titles that we still have to play on the pitch with fans in the stadium and let's see if we can also fight for the Champions League.

"To be honest, it's quite sad to win my first league title like this."

Herrera won the FA Cup, EFL Cup and Europa League with United, but a five-year stay in Manchester brought no Premier League trophy success.

He spoke of enjoying "a great relationship" with United's executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward, but that was not enough to keep him in England.

Shortly after joining PSG, Herrera had explained there had been conflict between how he and United saw his future, prompting his decision to accept the offer from France.

Now, Herrera has indicated he was hoping to stay with the Red Devils.

"When I look back a year ago, my intention was not to leave Manchester United," Herrera said.

The 30-year-old said it was not unusual for a player's point of view to not match up to a club's vision.

"I disagreed with some of the decisions they made but this happens in football," he said. "It happens in every company."

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has been key to most of the improvements that have been made at Manchester United since Jose Mourinho left, according to Luke Shaw.

Solskjaer was brought in as Mourinho's replacement on a temporary basis in December 2018, but after inspiring a significant upturn in form, he was given a full-time contract in March.

Performances and results dipped dramatically from then until the end of last season and issues seemed to remain at the start of 2019-20, but United had hit their best run of form since Solskjaer's appointment before the coronavirus pandemic led to a suspension in March.

United were unbeaten in 11 matches across all competitions, a run that included two wins over Manchester City, a 2-0 defeat of Chelsea at Stamford Bridge and back-to-back 5-0 triumphs in the Europa League against Club Brugge and LASK.

Shaw – who has been at Old Trafford since 2014 – highlighted the unity that has developed in the squad, suggesting it has been even more evident during the lockdown.

"It's great to see everyone helping each other out," he said in a diary entry on United's official website. "Carras [Michael Carrick, first-team coach] was on the group call the other day, praising us for looking after ourselves because everybody looks the same [in terms of physical assessments] as before lockdown, so he's happy.

"Everyone's working hard, we're pushing each other with our runs and helping each other out. Hopefully everyone can be back working together at the training ground soon.

"There really is a great feel about this group of lads now, and that has been the case for a while. I've seen a lot of changes during my time at United and I have to say that Ole has been responsible for a large amount of the improvements around the place.

"When he came in, he knew what was needed, what had to change to get things up and running again. He's signed people who aren't just good players, but also really good lads as well. They've integrated in the squad really well and brought a bit more energy and togetherness in the group."

Harry Maguire has been credited with having a particularly impressive impact off the pitch, with the pre-season signing from Leicester City already becoming club captain following Ashley Young's move to Inter in January.

Shaw feels Maguire's efforts have been focused on creating a better mentality in the group, with players agreeing to a code of conduct that sees them accept a fine if they miss bonding activities.

"He [Maguire] is really trying to make sure we get more things done together as a group going forward," Shaw continued. "Young was brilliant, really tried his hardest, but sometimes it was difficult to get things done as a group.

"Now we've made a pact that whenever a team bonding thing happens, we all have to do it or we get fined. It's great for the team to be together and do things together.

"In some groups, sometimes, there are people who just don't get on, which is natural when you've got big groups, but I honestly believe that in our squad everyone gets on really well.

"We all love each other, we all want to push each other to be the best and, of course, to get United as a club back to where it needs to be."

Manchester United midfielder Andreas Pereira is determined to play for Santos, even if it is much later in his career.

The 24-year-old has spoken previously of a wish to represent the Brazilian club, whose president admitted this month to having contacted the player personally.

Pereira has been at United since 2011 and had been a mainstay in Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's plans this season, making 37 appearances in all competitions before the campaign was halted by the coronavirus pandemic.

While he remains keen to stay in Europe for now, with his United contract running until June 2023, Pereira yearns to win trophies with Santos before he retires.

He told Globo Esporte: "My whole family is from Santos. Since I was little, I grew up watching this. I was becoming a player and I always dreamed of playing for Santos, but I went to Manchester.

"I got older, then everyone said, 'Why won't you play for our Santos?' I want to go, but I can't now. I want to play football in Europe, and then I'll go.

"I want to go to Santos to win. I'm not going there to finish and to 'steal' money. I'm going to play well, so people say: 'Remember Andreas at Santos?'"

Pereira was born in Belgium and played for them at youth level before representing Brazil in the Under-20s.

He earned his first senior cap in a friendly against El Salvador in September 2018 but has not made an appearance for the Selecao since.

Pereira says Belgium boss Roberto Martinez has told him he would be welcome to switch allegiances, but the player insists he only ever wanted to play for Brazil.

"The Belgium coach spoke to me after I was called up. He asked what the situation was, if there was any chance I could play for Belgium," he said.

"I said that I'm Brazilian at heart, my family is Brazilian. I was born in Belgium but I never intended to play for Belgium. I never thought about that.

"He said that, if I don't feel happy one day, if they treat me in a way I don't like, they will always have open arms."

Bruno Fernandes' transfer to Manchester United from Sporting CP is under investigation by FIFA after Sampdoria launched a claim against the Portuguese club.

Sampdoria's complaint relates to payments they believe they are entitled to following Fernandes' move for an initial £48million (€55m) to Old Trafford in January.

The Portugal midfielder joined Sporting from Sampdoria for €8.5m in June 2017.

Sampdoria's claim concerns Sporting alone, meaning there is no suggestion United are guilty of any impropriety.

In a statement released to Stats Perform. a FIFA spokesperson said: "We can confirm that on 3 April 2020 the Italian club, UC Sampdoria, lodged a claim with FIFA against the Portuguese club, Sporting Clube de Portugal, related to financial obligations set out in the contract corresponding to the transfer of the Portuguese player, Bruno Miguel Borges Fernandes.

"The matter is currently being investigated and consequently we cannot provide further comments."

A report by The Times claimed Sampdoria believe they are entitled to €4.65m under a sell-on clause under the terms of Fernandes' move to Lisbon.

However, the 25-year-old was one of several Sporting players to rescind his contract before re-signing following an incident in May 2018 when fans invaded the club's training ground and attacked members of the squad.

It is thought Sporting believe they no longer have obligations to Sampdoria under the new contract Fernandes signed, given he technically penned that as a free agent to render any sell-on element null and void.

Fernandes has impressed since joining United, scoring two goals and supplying three assists in five Premier League matches before the 2019-20 season was placed on hiatus amid the COVID-19 crisis.

Kylian Mbappe could be prepared to agree a new deal with Paris Saint-Germain – on one condition.

The France star has been linked heavily with a move to Real Madrid, although he is contracted in Paris until 2022.

Mbappe could also reportedly re-sign with PSG and it seems it is a possibility, although only if it includes a clause.

 

TOP STORY – MBAPPE WANTS REAL MADRID CLAUSE IN NEW PSG DEAL

Mbappe wants a clause in his PSG contract that allows him to leave for Real Madrid or another great club for a certain fee, according to AS.

The report compares the buyout clause to the one Neymar had in his deal before leaving Barcelona for PSG for a world-record €222million in 2017.

It says Real Madrid would prefer Mbappe did not re-sign as they would chase the attacker next year.

ROUND-UP

- Barcelona are reportedly still pursuing Inter star Lautaro Martinez. But ESPN claims the LaLiga giants fear interest from Real Madrid, Manchester United and PSG could drive up the forward's price.

- James Rodriguez is seemingly still attracting interest from Atletico Madrid. El Universal reports the Colombia international is ready to make the move from Real Madrid and join Atletico.

- Again linked with a move, Nabil Fekir may be prepared to wait. AS says the Real Betis attacker is ready to wait for an offer from Barca or Real Madrid to emerge, amid apparent interest from Arsenal, Milan and Newcastle United.

- The chase is on for Aster Vranckx. The Mirror reports Manchester City and Liverpool will go head-to-head for the 17-year-old Mechelen midfielder, who is a Belgium youth international. It comes as The Mirror reports Liverpool are changing their transfer plans to focus on young talent.

- Brahim Diaz is yet to make an impression at Real Madrid and could make a move. Mundo Deportivo claims Betis are interested in the midfielder, who joined Madrid from Manchester City last year.

- Coming out of contract, Angel Gomes' future at Manchester United is unclear. The Sun reports United have made a last-ditch offer to Gomes, who has been linked with Chelsea and other Premier League clubs.

Whenever English football is able to resume following the coronavirus pandemic, things will undoubtedly be different.

Spectators are seemingly unlikely to be inside stadiums to see the action unfold, while Premier League players and staff may need to be quarantined away from families for their safety. Seasons may still be played out to a conclusion, but just not when we quite expected on the calendar.

However, could shorter games also be the future?

Professional Footballers' Association chief executive Gordon Taylor suggested as much during an appearance on the BBC Radio 4 Today programme on Tuesday.

"We don't know the future, what we do know is what propositions have been put, what ideas have been put, the possibility of having more substitutes, games possibly not being the full 45 minutes each way," he said.

With Taylor's comments causing quite a stir on social media, Opta worked out how the Premier League table would look right now if teams had played 80-minute matches instead - and the revised standings made for interesting reading.

 

Liverpool still remain well clear at the summit, of course, yet their 25-point lead over Manchester City would be whittled down to 15. The top four remains the same as the current table in terms of positions, though Manchester United close the gap to Chelsea for the final Champions League spot.

Arsenal receive a welcome bump up from ninth to sixth after gaining three points, just ahead of Crystal Palace and comfortably clear of rivals Tottenham, who slip into the bottom half.

Not going for the full 90 works out nicely for Aston Villa and Bournemouth, though, as they gain six and four points respectively to climb out of the relegation places. Watford are another to benefit, moving further clear of danger.

The team to suffer under the change are Newcastle United, as a deduction of seven points sees them slip to 19th, sandwiched by Brighton and Hove Albion and Norwich City. The Canaries do actually add five points to their current tally, yet still prop up the rest.

Such a scenario is hardly Taylor made for potential new owners at Newcastle, although they would still have games to play to get out of trouble.

Manchester United and Arsenal did not make it to this season's Champions League, but 11 years ago they were contesting a crucial semi-final.

It was United who ended up reaching the 2009 final after winning a famous second leg at Emirates Stadium.

West Indies batsman Deandra Dottin can also reflect proudly on this date, given it is a decade to the day since she made T20I history.

Here we look back on some of the most memorable moments from the world of sport to take place on May 5.

 

2009 - Ronaldo and Man Utd roll past Arsenal

A solitary John O'Shea strike had United one goal to the good in the semi-final going into an eagerly anticipated second leg between the domestic rivals in London.

Arsenal supporters created a frenzied atmosphere but saw their hopes of reaching a second final in four years evaporate in rapid, heart-breaking fashion.

A Park Ji-sung strike and a 40-yard free-kick from Cristiano Ronaldo gave United two away goals, all but ending the tie after 11 minutes.

Ronaldo then capped a classic United counter-attack in the second half to dispel any thoughts of a comeback from Arsene Wenger's side.

Arsenal finally found the target when future United striker Robin van Persie converted a late penalty but there was to be no way back.

It was a crushing defeat for the Gunners and they have not made it to the last four of Europe's premier club competition since.

United went on to lose the final 2-0 against Barcelona in Rome, ending their hopes of becoming the first team to retain the Champions League in the modern era of the competition. 

They suffered the same fate in a final against Barca at Wembley two years later and have remained on three Champions League triumphs since their 2008 success.


2010 - Cricketing history for Deandra Dottin

Dottin obliterated the South Africa bowling attack 10 years ago in St Kitts and Nevis to score the first women's T20I hundred.

It took her only 38 deliveries to reach three figures and that remains the fastest century in history.

Australia's Alyssa Healy smashed a 46-ball ton against Sri Lanka in 2019, but that pace still fell considerably short of Dottin's incredible innings.

Batting at number six, Dottin ended with a score of 112 not out from 45 deliveries.

She catapulted West Indies from 52-4 to a match-winning total of 175-5, although South Africa did come within 17 runs.

Her second fifty came in just 13 deliveries and in total she hit seven fours and nine sixes for a magnificent strike-rate of 248.88.


1904 – Cy Young pitches first perfect game

It is 116 years to the day since Young pitched the first perfect game in the modern era of baseball.

The Boston Americans pitcher was a 37-year-old when he retired all 27 Philadelphia Athletics batters he faced in the Huntington Avenue Grounds, winning a grudge match against rival Rube Waddell.

All told it was the third perfect game in MLB history but first since the modern era was considered to have begun in 1900 once rules had been codified.

Over four years passed before Addie Joss became the second player in the modern era to pitch a perfect game in October 1908 for the Cleveland Naps against the Chicago White Sox.

The third came from Charlie Robertson in 1922 and Don Larsen's effort in 1956 was the only other perfect game before the 1960s.

After Young's death in 1955, the Cy Young Award was created in his honour to reward the game's best pitchers.

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.