Samir Nasri has refuted reports he has not been keeping in contact with Anderlecht's hierarchy during the coronavirus pandemic.

The Pro League in early April suggested the 2019-20 season be cancelled and a meeting to determine its fate is due to be held on Friday.

Anderlecht last played on March 7, defeating Zulte-Waregem 7-0 at home, though Nasri did not feature in the matchday squad.

Nasri has been at the centre of media rumours this week, however, after reports in Belgian publication Derniere Heure claimed the former Manchester City and Arsenal playmaker had not been in regular contact with player-manager Vincent Kompany.

But Nasri has dismissed the rumours, insisting he has been keeping in touch with Anderlecht.

"It makes no sense," Nasri said during in a live interview on Instagram.

"Where did you see someone disappear? Because that is what I thought I saw or heard said: someone who has disappeared or no longer gives any sign of life. 

"I speak to the chief medical officer every day. He is the one who sends me the sessions I have to do. I also speak with Vincent Kompany."

Nasri joined up with former City team-mate Kompany at Anderlecht in 2019 but has failed to revive his career in Belgium, having made just eight appearances in all competitions.

Samir Nasri has refuted reports he has not been keeping in contact with Anderlecht's hierarchy during the coronavirus pandemic.

The Pro League in early April suggested the 2019-20 season be cancelled and a meeting to determine its fate is due to be held on Friday.

Anderlecht last played on March 7, defeating Zulte-Waregem 7-0 at home, though Nasri did not feature in the matchday squad.

Nasri has been at the centre of media rumours this week, however, after reports in Belgian publication Derniere Heure claimed the former Manchester City and Arsenal playmaker had not been in regular contact with player-manager Vincent Kompany.

But Nasri has dismissed the rumours, insisting he has been keeping in touch with Anderlecht.

"It makes no sense," Nasri said during in a live interview on Instagram.

"Where did you see someone disappear? Because that is what I thought I saw or heard said: someone who has disappeared or no longer gives any sign of life. 

"I speak to the chief medical officer every day. He is the one who sends me the sessions I have to do. I also speak with Vincent Kompany."

Nasri joined up with former City team-mate Kompany at Anderlecht in 2019 but has failed to revive his career in Belgium, having made just eight appearances in all competitions.

Vincent Kompany is set to welcome his Anderlecht team back to training on Monday - with the order to maintain social distancing.

Player-boss Kompany has seen his players stay fit at home in recent weeks, with the Anderlecht stars dialling in on Zoom to take part in exercise sessions.

But many first-team footballers are expected back at the Neerpede training ground after Anderlecht decided the time was right to reunite in the same place.

Belgium remains largely locked down due to the coronavirus pandemic, and it was announced on April 2 that a plan was in place to abandon the Pro League season; however, a final decision in that respect has yet to be taken. There is only one round of regular-season games remaining.

In the meantime, Anderlecht have invited players to pull on their training kit and assemble together, while stressing attendance on Monday is voluntary.

Tackling and physical contact is set to be banned in the sessions.

Club spokesman David Steegen said: "Players who do not feel reassured can continue to work at home. But each player present at Neerpede will observe the safety distances and the coaches will direct the exercises while respecting the social distance."

Speaking to Belgian public service broadcaster RTBF, Steegen added: "It will be mainly physical training, but also with a ball.

"All the equipment used will be disinfected, before and after each session. Players will not have access to the dressing room, everyone will change and shower at home."

UEFA questioned Belgium's intention to cancel the rest of its league season, and there will be no final ruling on whether the campaign will resume until late April at the earliest.

Anderlecht have endured a rocky first season since Kompany joined after bringing an end to his illustrious Manchester City career.

They sit eighth in the Pro League, with Club Brugge 15 points clear of closest rivals Gent at the top.

Jamaica international Kemar Lawrence has insisted he is working hard to be ready when called upon for new Belgian Premier League club Anderlecht.

The 27-year-old defender recently completed a move to the European club from United States MLS team New York Red Bull.  Lawrence made 118 appearances for the New York franchise in five years.  With the move away from the club coming ahead of the start of the new MLS season, the right-back has admitted he is a little short on match fitness.

“The guys are already midway or past midway the season so it’s already business time.  For me right now it’s about getting fit and being ready to play,” Lawrence told members of the media at his unveiling.

Lawrence qualifies to play this weekend against  Mechelen but is not yet sure he is ready to make an appearance.

“As it relates to fitness, I’m coming off a long offseason about 2 months offseason, so match fitness I’m not up to that standard yet but I should be soon.  The guys are pushing each and every day, I am about a week in, so about next week or a week and a half I should be up to 90 minutes match fitness,” Lawrence said.

“So far though the guys are being smart because you know when a player is coming back from offseason you can’t just rush him into a game because that is risking injury.”

 

Manchester United left it very, very late, but Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was given the extra striker he wanted in the form of Odion Ighalo.

With a move for Bournemouth's Joshua King dead in the water, the Red Devils focused their efforts on a loan deal for the 30-year-old, who has been playing for Shanghai Shenhua since last February.

Ighalo's deal, which Omnisport understands does not include a purchase option, will give Solskjaer another option up front during the injury absence of Marcus Rashford.

He is expected to travel to England in the coming days before United publicly announce the signing.

Ighalo was far from the only major deal to be concluded late in the transfer window, though, as West Ham just managed to finalise the signing of Jarrod Bowen from Hull City for a reported initial fee of £22million.

Aston Villa also announced a new striker signing about 10 minutes before the window closed, Borja Baston joining on a free transfer from Swansea City.

Elsewhere in England, Tariq Lamptey took the decision to leave Chelsea and sign for Brighton and Hove Albion on a contract until 2023. The Seagulls have also brought back Alexis Mac Allister from Boca Juniors, where he was on loan.


LOANS GALORE

Sheffield United had a busy end to the window, securing the arrival of Panos Retsos - initially on loan but with the option of a permanent deal - from Bayer Leverkusen, while Ravel Morrison has been sent on loan to Middlesbrough, having made one Premier League appearance this season.

Leicester City have loaned Ryan Bennett from Wolves, with Filip Benkovic allowed to leave for Bristol City for the remainder of the campaign with a view to earning regular game time.

Everton have sent Jonas Lossl back to Huddersfield Town on loan, while Connor Wickham is also heading to the Championship, the Crystal Palace striker moving to Sheffield Wednesday on loan.

Wolves have secured the signing of Luke Matheson, who famously scored at Old Trafford in September as a 16-year-old, and loaned him back to Rochdale for the remainder of the season.

Leverkusen have also brought in a signing for the future, with Edmond Tapsoba arriving from Vitoria SC for a fee said to be between €16m and €18m.
 

SERIE A FLURRY

Italy's window closed a little earlier than some others and there was a flurry of deals around the deadline.

Marko Pjaca will get the chance to kick-start his career with Anderlecht, Juventus having allowed the winger to leave on loan for the remainder of the season as he looks to earn regular first-team football.

Milan have signed Alexis Saelemaekers, a highly rated 20-year-old from Anderlecht who arrives on loan with the option of a permanent move.

Fiorentina have had a busy end to the window. Kevin Agudelo has joined the Viola from Genoa on an 18-month loan deal, while Valentin Eysseric has been sent to Hellas Verona until June.

Maya Yoshida secured a switch to Sampdoria from Southampton, while Gaston Pereiro's move from PSV to Cagliari was ratified. He will be joined in Sardinia by Alberto Paloschi, with Alberto Cerri heading the other way to SPAL.

Gervinho, meanwhile, has taken another step in his nomadic career by moving to Al Sadd from Parma, who brought in Vasco Regini on loan from Samp.
 

BUSY BARCA

Barcelona will give new €10m signing Matheus Fernandes for time to acclimatise to LaLiga, spending the rest of 2019-20 with Real Valladolid.

Barca have also sent Moussa Wague on loan to Nice, who have the option of a €10m permanent deal, while Ligue 1 rivals Lyon have signed Camilo Reijers de Oliveira for €2m.

Kevin-Prince Boateng was a shock signing for Barca 12 months ago and the experienced forward is on the move again, this time heading to Besiktas on loan from Fiorentina.

Leganes bolstered their attacking depth with two loan deals, bringing in Roger Assale from Young Boys and former player Miguel Angel Guerrero from Olympiacos.

Getafe have landed Erick Cabaco on a permanent deal, the defender joining from Levante, Granada have signed Gil Dias on loan from Monaco, and Real Sociedad have sold Ruben Pardo to Bordeaux.

Celta Vigo, meanwhile, have loaned Emre Mor to Olympiacos, while a late, late deal that saw Nicolas Gaitan sign for Lille for the rest of the season was completed in time.

Milan have signed Belgian midfielder Alexis Saelemaekers from Anderlecht in a "dream" move for the youngster.

The 20-year-old has moved to San Siro on loan until the end of the Serie A season, with Milan having secured an option to then sign Saelemaekers permanently.

Saelemaekers has caught the eye for Anderlecht and is an under-21 international who the Belgian club believe has a bright future.

Milan said on their website that Saelemaekers would meet his new team-mates on Saturday before being presented at a news conference on Tuesday.

Anderlecht sporting director Michael Verschueren said: "Alexis caught the eye of a great club this season. It's wonderful for him and it's also a good sign for our training of youngsters.

"At his age, it's a dream you couldn't help but want to experience.

"I understand that fans would have preferred him not to go. But that's football today. When the big clubs like AC Milan knock on the door, you have to do the right thing."

Milan, who welcomed Zlatan Ibrahimovic back to the club in January, are on a high after winning their past three league games to climb to eighth in Serie A.

They also reached the Coppa Italia semi-finals with victory over Torino on Tuesday.

Verschueren told Anderlecht's website: "Milan conducted themselves very well in this matter with Anderlecht, so I think there are no losers.

"We obviously wish Alexis the best and we're proud to have coached him here."

Manchester United look set to continue scrambling for strikers throughout deadline day.

While Bruno Fernandes has finally arrived, the Red Devils were reportedly less successful in a surprise bid to bring Bournemouth forward Joshua King back to Old Trafford.

Now, with the countdown well and truly on, a Tottenham target appears to have been removed from United's radar.

 

TOP STORY - UNITED PASS ON WILLIAN JOSE

Though still without Marcus Rashford, United have rejected the chance to sign Willian Jose on loan, according to Sky Sports.

Real Sociedad reportedly failed to gain a bite after offering the Brazilian striker to the Champions League aspirants amid negotiations with another Premier League club in Tottenham.

Spurs earlier looked to be in pole position to sign the 28-year-old permanently, but may now have to settle for a temporary deal as discussions continue.

The prospect of a bolstering their attack following Rashford's injury would have appealed to United, who reportedly failed in an attempt to capture Cherries star King.

The Telegraph claims Eddie Howe's insistence on keeping the Norwegian denied Ole Gunnar Solskjaer the chance to reunite with the player he coached while in charge of United's reserve side.

 

ROUND-UP

- Ligue 1 leaders Paris Saint-Germain will keep Edinson Cavani unless LaLiga side Atletico Madrid improve from €15million to €20m, according to ESPN reporter Julien Laurens.

- Juventus midfielder Emre Can will join Borussia Dortmund on loan with an obligation for the Bundesliga club to buy for €30m, reports Goal.

- Manchester City are set to beat Arsenal, Barcelona and Bayer Leverkusen to Coritiba's 17-year-old Brazilian right-back Yan Couto, claims Mundo Deportivo. 

- Ricardo Rodriguez is out the door and Milan might have settled on a shock replacement. Sky Sports suggests the Rossoneri have agreed an €11.9m (£10m) deal to take left-back Antonee Robinson from Championship outfit Wigan Athletic. The Serie A side are also said to be on the cusp of signing Anderlecht youngster Alexis Saelemaekers.

- Inter and Lazio are competing to secure Chelsea centre-forward Olivier Giroud before the transfer window shuts, claims Sky Sport Italia. 

Netherlands great Rob Rensenbrink has died aged 72, the KNVB have confirmed.

Rensenbrink starred for Anderlecht for nine years at club level while playing a key role for the outstanding Oranje national side of the 1970s, earning 46 caps.

The winger started in the 1974 and 1978 World Cup finals - both defeats - and no Dutch player has been involved in more goals (six goals, four assists) in the competition's history.

A former team-mate of Johan Cruyff with the Oranje, Rensenbrink finished second in the Ballon d'Or voting behind Franz Beckenbauer in 1976 and third two years later as Kevin Keegan took the top prize.

He was also named in Pele's FIFA 100 in 2004, a list of the 125 greatest living footballers.

Anderlecht posted on Twitter on Saturday: "Thank you, Robbie. In our purple hearts forever."

Proposals for a joint league featuring elite clubs from Netherlands and Belgium have reached a second stage.

The concept has been mooted for a number of years but has now moved a step closer, with a select group of teams from Eredivisie and the Belgian First Division being asked to give their views.

Consultancy firm Deloitte was hired to explore the possibility of a combined league, which would be known as 'BeNeLiga'.

The five top clubs from Belgium (Gent, Club Brugge, Genk, Anderlecht and Standard Liege) met the top six from Netherlands (Ajax, AZ, Utrecht, Feyenoord, PSV and Vitesse) earlier this year, and Dutch football governing body KNVB has confirmed talks were successful enough to continue with the exploration.

A statement on KNVB's official website read: "The clubs involved decided in a first phase to conduct a feasibility study into the theoretical added value of a BeNeLiga.

"This study is also facilitated by the national associations (KNVB and KBVB) for the sake of the broader football interest. That research has since been carried out by Deloitte.

"The results of the first phase confirm that the new BeNeLiga has a potential significant value increase."

The next phase of the investigation will look at a possible format and the impact a new joint league will have on Dutch and Belgian teams.

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