Dutch football chiefs were set to discuss the future of this season's Eredivisie in a Tuesday meeting after new coronavirus restrictions with put in place by government in the Netherlands.

With all gatherings banned until June 1, any prospect of an early resumption to professional football has been ended.

It remains to be seen whether the leagues will elect to finish the season, decide to call it off now and declare the standings final, or choose an alternative option such as voiding the entire 2019-20 campaign.

The KNVB, Holland's football association, was set for talks with the bodies responsible for the Eredivisie and Eerste Divisie, namely the ECV and CED.

Hopes of finishing the season by June 30 - before player contracts expire - appear to be over, given most top-flight clubs still have eight games remaining. Ajax, AZ and Feyenoord, who make up the top three, each have nine fixtures left.

ECV chief executive Mattijs Manders, quoted by NOS, said: "It is very unlikely that the competition will be played in its current form. This is going to require a different approach. We will talk about this on Tuesday.

"But let's be clear: we support every measure that contributes to solving this big problem. Football is completely unimportant, but I am responsible for the Eredivisie and so I think about the scenarios."

With the majority of world sports postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic, we have time to look back at some famous - and perhaps forgotten - exploits and broaden our knowledge.

Regardless of how much we think we know, there is always more that can be learned. A trip down memory lane often proves worthwhile.

With that in mind, we looked back at what occurred on March 21 in years gone by to bring you the best bits.

 

1953 – An NBA record that still stands

When the Boston Celtics hosted the Syracuse Nationals in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference semi-finals it was a game that went down in history.

The teams combined for an incredible 106 personal fouls in a quadruple-overtime battle that saw 12 players foul out, with neither team having enough personnel left to make substitutions in the final two OT periods.

Police were also required to get fans and players off the floor following Dolph Schayes and Bob Brannum getting into a fight that saw both ejected.

Red Rocha and Paul Seymour played 67 minutes each in a slug fest that ended with the Celtics triumphing 111-105.

 

1971 – Gavaskar gets going

Sunil Gavaskar is undoubtedly one of the greatest openers in Test cricket history.

In just his second match in the longest format for India, he scored the first of his 34 centuries.

It came in the third Test against West Indies in Georgetown, Guyana, and he made 116 in his first innings of what ended up a drawn match.

 

1982 – Pate at the Players

The 1982 Players Championship was the first on the Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass and Jerry Pate ensured it lived long in the memory.

After sending his ball into the water at the par-four 18th in round three, Pate thought victory had slipped from his grasp.

However, in round for he posted gains on the island-green 17th and the final hole to defeat his brother-in-law Bruce Lietzke and Scott Simpson by two shots.

To celebrate, he took a famous dip in the water hazard at the last.

 

1987 – Record-breaking Gullit agrees Milan move

Silvio Berlusconi made Ruud Gullit the most expensive player in the world when he signed him from PSV.

The powerful midfielder won the 1987 Ballon d'Or and went on to win three Serie A titles and back-to-back European Cups during his time in Milan.

Gullit now has a permanent place in the Rossoneri's Hall of Fame.

With precious few sporting events taking place due to the coronavirus, we looked back through sporting history to identify key and major events to take place on this day.

March 18 has proven a busy day down the years, but we have highlighted five particularly memorable or notable occasions.

From the formation of a world-renowned football club, to the suspicious death of a former cricketer, below we have everything you need for a little education, or a trip down memory lane.

 

1900 – Ajax are formed

March 18 is a momentous day not only for Dutch football, but for the entire sport globally. On this day in 1900, Ajax were formed by Floris Stempel (their first chairman), Hen Dade (sports director) and Carel Reeser. Named after the mythological Greek war hero Ajax, most known for fighting against Troy in the Trojan War, the club has since gone on to dominate much of Dutch football history and influenced many of the most famous ideologies and philosophies in the world game.

1942 – Two black players try out for Chicago White Sox

Jackie Robinson is remembered as an iconic baseball player, in more ways than one. Regarded a great for his exploits with the Brooklyn Dodgers, he was also the first black player to break the colour barrier in Major League Baseball in 1947. However, he could have made the move from the 'Negro Leagues' five years earlier, as on March 18, 1942, Robinson and Nate Moreland – who was also black – had a trial with the Chicago White Sox. Manager Jimmy Dykes acknowledged their abilities, but he did not sign either, doubtful the White Sox would allow black players to join.

2000 – England win inaugural Six Nations

The Six Nations has had many forms through the years, initially starting off as a tournament between the British 'Home Nations' and then becoming the Five Nations. It was further expanded to its current guise in 2000 as Italy joined the fold. England won the inaugural Six Nations, thrashing the newcomers 57-12 in Rome – Jonny Wilkinson's kicking and Austin Healey's hat-trick of tries doing the damage.

2007 – Former cricketer and coach Bob Woolmer found dead

On March 18, 2007, one day after his Pakistan team were knocked out of the Cricket World Cup, coach Bob Woolmer was found dead in his hotel room. Initially he was thought to have had a heart attack, only for another pathologist's report to suggest he had been murdered. Further reports proposed health problems contributed to his passing, but a jury later returned an open verdict, unable to rule out the theory Woolmer was strangled. Other prominent former cricketers have since claimed Woolmer did not die of natural causes.

2012 – Panathinaikos v Olympiacos leads to chaos

Those familiar with Greek football – and specifically the rivalries involved – will not be unaware of the problems often seen when Olympiacos and Panathinaikos face each other. In March 2012, the disturbances were particularly serious, as Panathinaikos were losing 1-0 at home to their bitter rivals. The second half was initially delayed by 45 minutes due to fans throwing flares and Molotov cocktails at police, and the contest was eventually abandoned. Twenty police officers were hurt, 50 fans were arrested, three fire engines were required to tackle blazes, and Pana were docked five points on top of having to play four games behind closed doors.

For so long, Donny van de Beek has been tipped to join Real Madrid.

Madrid previously contacted Eredivisie champions Ajax over a possible deal for the midfielder at the start of the season.

The LaLiga giants reportedly have an agreement in place for Van de Beek, however, Manchester United are still fighting for the Dutchman.

 

TOP STORY – UNITED OUT TO HIJACK MADRID'S DONNY PURSUIT

Manchester United are looking to beat Real Madrid to the signing of Ajax midfielder Donny van de Beek, according to Marca.

Madrid reportedly have a pre-agreement with Van de Beek, who was close to swapping Amsterdam for the Spanish capital at the start of 2019-20.

Now, United are trying to pip Madrid to Van de Beek amid doubts over star midfielder Paul Pogba, who has been linked with a move to the Santiago Bernabeu.

ROUND-UP

- Calciomercato claims Juventus remain the preferred option for Pogba, despite United insisting the Frenchman will be at Old Trafford in 2020-21.

- Paris Saint-Germain's Kylian Mbappe and Borussia Dortmund sensation Erling Haaland team-mates at Madrid? The LaLiga giants are interested in the pair, however, Marca has described it as an "impossible dream". That is because Mbappe and Haaland reportedly do not get along following the Champions League last-16 tie, which saw PSG mock the Dortmund forward.

- Calciomercato says Napoli and Inter are set to go head-to-head for Sassuolo midfielder Jeremie Boga.

- PSG full-back Thomas Meunier will join Borussia Dortmund on a free transfer at the end of the season, reports RMC. Meunier's contract is due to expire in June.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic's future at Milan is uncertain. Gazzetta dello Sport says Ibrahimovic will only extend his contract if the Rossoneri build a strong winning team in Serie A.

Manchester United's improved form is said to be leading to increased confidence of landing Jadon Sancho.

Sancho, 19, has been linked with a move to the Premier League after starring at Borussia Dortmund since joining the German club from Manchester City.

And, with United in fine form and eyeing a Champions League spot next season, Old Trafford could be shaping as his most likely destination.

 

TOP STORY – MAN UTD CONFIDENT OF SIGNING SANCHO IF THEY QUALIFY FOR CHAMPIONS LEAGUE

Manchester United believe they are in pole position to sign Sancho, according to the Mirror.

The report says Paris Saint-Germain are their biggest competitors for the England international's signature.

United are unbeaten in 11 games in all competitions and sit three points behind fourth-placed Chelsea.

ROUND-UP

- Thomas Partey starred for Atletico Madrid against Liverpool in the Champions League and the midfielder is attracting interest. The Telegraph reports Arsenal will consider making a move for the Ghana international ahead of next season.

- Juventus are continuing to work on a new contract for Paulo Dybala. CalcioMercato reports one aspect of a possible deal relates to the Serie A champions showing how much they value Dybala by offering him a salary second only to Cristiano Ronaldo at the club.

- Out of contract at the season's end, Willian's future at Chelsea remains uncertain. The Sun reports manager Frank Lampard is keen to offer the Brazil international, who has been linked to Arsenal, a new deal, while club director Marina Granovskaia is reportedly focusing on off-season transfer targets.

- With England's women's side out of form, could Phil Neville be set for an exit as coach? The Daily Mail reports Neville is considering his future with England having won just three of nine games since finishing fourth at last year's Women's World Cup.

- Hakim Ziyech is joining Chelsea from Ajax ahead of 2020-21, and he wants a team-mate to come with him. The Daily Mail says the attacker is hoping to persuade Chelsea to sign Ajax goalkeeper Andre Onana.

- Juventus are considering a move for 22-year-old Lille and former Brazil youth international defender Gabriel, according to SportMediaset.

The coronavirus pandemic continued to lead to widescale disruption in the world of sport on Thursday.

The outbreak of COVID-19 has resulted in the ATP Tour being suspended for six weeks, while the PGA Tour will be played behind closed doors until April 5.

Football in Spain, the Netherlands, the United States and Portugal has been put on hiatus, while Champions League games between Manchester City and Real Madrid, and Juventus and Lyon have been postponed.

A second Serie A player has been confirmed to have contracted coronavirus, while the Utah Jazz announced a second positive test for COVID-19. Donovan Mitchell confirmed he was the latest individual with the infection, while Rudy Gobert is reported to be the other.

We look at the biggest events to have been impacted by the proliferation of the virus.

 

A six-week suspension was implemented by the ATP Tour, which it said came in the wake of the World Health Organization declaring the spread of COVID-19 constituted a pandemic and 30-day travel restrictions imposed by the United States.

ATP chairman Andrea Gaudenzi said: "This is not a decision that was taken lightly and it represents a great loss for our tournaments, players, and fans worldwide. However, we believe this is the responsible action needed at this time in order to protect the health and safety of our players, staff, the wider tennis community and general public health in the face of this global pandemic."

The WTA Tour was yet to follow suit, but the Miami Open has been scratched from its schedule after a state of emergency was declared in Miami-Dade County.

Following the news that LaLiga had suspended its next two matchdays and Real Madrid had established a self-imposed quarantine in the wake of one of their basketball players testing positive for COVID-19, Los Blancos' Champions League last-16 second leg against Manchester City on Tuesday was postponed.

The meeting between Juventus and Lyon has also been pushed back after Daniele Rugani was confirmed to have contracted coronavirus and the Serie A champions implemented isolation procedures.

UEFA will hold a videoconference with European football stakeholders on Tuesday to discuss the response to the outbreak. The talks will include all domestic and European competitions, including Euro 2020.

Bosnia-Herzegovina has requested its Euro 2020 play-off against Northern Ireland on March 26 be postponed, while Denmark expects its friendly against England five days later to be cancelled.

One game that has been cancelled is Wales' friendly against the United States on March 30.

Sampdoria announced Manolo Gabbiadini was the second professional Serie A player to test positive. The club said he had "a slight fever, but is otherwise fine". On Sunday Gabbiadini played 61 minutes against Hellas Verona, who also activated isolation procedures as a result.

Hannover confirmed a second case of coronavirus in their squad, with Jannes Horn following Timo Hubers in testing positive. All players from the German team will be under home quarantine for the next 14 days, with the club asking for their upcoming 2.Bundesliga games against Dynamo Dresden and Osnabruck to be called off.

Leicester City boss Brendan Rodgers revealed three of his players have shown symptoms of coronavirus and have been isolated from their team-mates. Stats Perform understands all players put into isolation have only displayed mild symptoms, meaning they have not met the threshold to be tested for the virus.

In the Netherlands, all football has been cancelled until March 31. This includes amateur and professional games, as well as the national team's fixtures against the USA and Spain.

Portugal's Primeira Liga and the CONCACAF Champions League have been postponed for an indefinite period, while MLS has been suspended for the next 30 days.

Elsewhere in the USA, the NHL season has been paused. Comissioner Gary Bettman said: "Following last night's news that an NBA player has tested positive for coronavirus - and given that our leagues share so many facilities and locker rooms and it now seems likely that some member of the NHL community would test positive at some point - it is no longer appropriate to try to continue to play games at this time."

The PGA Tour will continue as scheduled, though fans will be barred from attending events starting from Friday at the Players Championship until the Texas Open, which finishes on April 5.

However, the Corales Puntacana Resort and Club Championship has been cancelled due to potential logistical issues associated with players and staff travelling internationally.

The Washington Wizards have imposed self-isolation on players, coaches and basketball operations personnel for three to four days. The Wizards played the Jazz – who have confirmed two cases of coronavirus among their roster – on February 29 and the New York Knicks on March 10. The Knicks had a game with Utah six days before the Wizards did.

The Jazz's second positive test came after their game against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Wednesday was called off. Mitchell said on Instagram: "Thanks to everyone who has been reaching out since hearing the news about my positive test. We are all learning more about the seriousness of this situation and hopefully people can continue to educate themselves and realise that they need to behave responsibly both for their own health and for the well being of those around them."

After the NCAA announced no fans would be permitted at March Madness, the American, Atlantic 10, C-USA, MAC, America East, Big East, Big Sky and WAC announced their conference tournaments had been cancelled.

The Washington Redskins became the first NFL team to announce a change in protocol in relation to the coronavirus. Redskins owner Dan Snyder said: "Due to health and travel concerns surrounding COVID-19, Redskins have informed all coaches and scouts to suspend all travel until further notice."

Promoters Top Rank have confirmed their upcoming boxing shows at the Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden will go ahead behind closed doors.

Shakur Stevenson is scheduled to defend his WBO featherweight world title against Miguel Marriaga in the main event on Friday's card in New York, while Michael Conlan headlines next Tuesday when he takes on Belmar Preciado in a 10-round contest.

The remaining two ODIs between India and South Africa will also be played behind closed doors, the International Cricket Council announced. There will also be no fans at Pakistan Super League games in Karachi.

In rugby union, the Pro14 has been indefinitely suspended. A statement said: "Resumption of the 2019-20 season will now become a matter of constant review. To this point Pro14 Rugby has ensured that it has the latest information and guidance made available by the local and national authorities via our participating unions in the UK, Ireland, Italy and South Africa."

However, the quarter-finals in the European Champions Cup and European Challenge Cup remain set to go ahead as planned.

The next two NASCAR events at Atlanta Motor Speedway and Homestead-Miami Speedway over the next two weekends will be undertaken behind closed doors.

Former Bayer Leverkusen boss Roger Schmidt will take charge of PSV from next season after signing a two-year deal.

PSV's interim head coach Ernest Faber will step aside at the end of the 2019-20 campaign to be replaced by German Schmidt, who has been out of work since being sacked by Chinese Super League side Beijing Guoan in July 2019.

Schmidt, who won the Chinese FA Cup with Beijing during two years with the club, had previously managed Leverkusen and Salzburg.

He won the 2013-14 Austrian title while in charge of Salzburg before leading Leverkusen to back-to-back top-four finishes in the Bundesliga.

PSV director of football John de Jong said: "Roger Schmidt was always our first choice for the manager's job and we are delighted to announce that he is joining our club."

PSV are currently fourth in the Eredivisie table, seven points behind leaders Ajax.

Barcelona know what they want to do with Philippe Coutinho should the attacker return to the club from Bayern Munich.

Coutinho is on a season-long loan at the Bundesliga club, who have an option to buy the Brazil international at the end of the campaign.

But Barca reportedly already have plans in place if the 27-year-old comes back to Camp Nou.

 

TOP STORY – BARCELONA PLAN TO USE COUTINHO AS MAKEWEIGHT IF HE RETURNS

Barcelona will use Coutinho as a makeweight in any of the huge deals they are planning in the close season, according to Sport.

The LaLiga giants are reportedly again targeting Neymar, who was linked with a return but ended up staying at Paris Saint-Germain last year.

PSG and Liverpool are rumoured to be interested in Coutinho, although Bayern have a €120million option to buy the playmaker.

ROUND-UP

- Juventus' interest in Mauro Icardi is ongoing. CalcioMercato reports Juve still want the forward, who is on loan at PSG from Inter, with the Ligue 1 club holding a €70m purchase option. Goal reports Juventus are also monitoring Santos teenager Kaio Jorge, who has a €50m release clause.

- Linked with a move to Bayern Munich, Leroy Sane may yet remain at Manchester City. The Telegraph reports the attacker, who has been sidelined with a serious knee injury, will consider staying at the Premier League club beyond this season.

- Hirving Lozano's Napoli stay may be short-lived. Corriere dello Sport reports Atletico Madrid have their sights set on the Mexico international, who is out of favour under Gennaro Gattuso in his first season at the Serie A club.

- Having dealt with defensive problems this season, Manchester City seemingly have a solution in mind. CalcioMercato reports the Premier League giants are ready to again make a move for Inter defender Milan Skriniar, a player they have been linked to previously.

- Already up to 15 goals this season, Everton striker Dominic Calvert-Lewin appears set to be rewarded for his good form. The Times report the 22-year-old – apparently a target for Manchester United previously – is ready to sign a deal until 2025 with the Premier League club.

- Arsenal have started talks over a move for Feyenoord's 19-year-old playmaker Orkun Kokcu for £23m (€26.5m), according to the Daily Mail.

Ajax will be without Hakim Ziyech for the second leg of their Europa League last-32 tie with Getafe, Erik ten Hag has confirmed.

Ziyech will join Chelsea at the end of the season, with the player having agreed a five-year contract to move to Stamford Bridge.

The Morocco international was a star of Ajax's charge to the Champions League semi-finals last season and has scored nine goals across all competitions in 2019-20.

However, a calf problem ruled him out for the opening leg against Getafe, which Ajax lost 2-0 in Spain.

Ziyech missed a 1-0 defeat to Heracles on Sunday with a recurrence of the issue and Ten Hag has now revealed the 26-year-old will be absent again on Thursday.

"Still for the same reason, he hasn't recovered enough," Ten Hag said in a news conference when asked about Ziyech.

"Given the injury, we cannot take a big risk with that. We cannot risk putting everything at stake for one match."

Sunday's defeat left Ajax just three points clear of AZ at the top of the Eredivisie, though Ten Hag has been boosted by the return of Quincy Promes. Noussair Mazraoui and David Neres, however, are both still out.

Ajax have confirmed the signing of Antony from Sao Paulo in a €21.75million deal.

The 19-year-old, who has agreed a five-year contract with the Eredivisie champions, will move on July 1.

"We will have to be patient for a few more months before Antony can start here, but with him, we are getting a creative player who can play in every position up front," director of football Marc Overmars said via Ajax's website.

"It's already been established that some of our players will be leaving this summer. We need to plan for that, so it's great that we've been able to finalise this transfer."

The signing of Antony – a Brazil Under-23 international - comes after Hakim Ziyech agreed to join Chelsea at the end of the season in a deal that could be worth €44m.

Ajax head coach Erik ten Hag is hopeful of retaining star midfielder Donny van de Beek amid interest from Real Madrid and Manchester United.

Van de Beek has continually been linked with a move to LaLiga giants Madrid, who previously contacted Ajax over a possible deal at the start of the season.

The 22-year-old Netherlands international has also reportedly emerged as a target for Premier League side United.

Ten Hag was asked about the future of Van de Beek on the eve of Thursday's Europa League clash against Getafe in Madrid.

"I do not think so [that he will leave]," Ajax boss Ten Hag told reporters in his news conference.

"He has had a great evolution and has attracted international attention. There are players who are in the spotlight and then things change."

Ten Hag added: "Donny van de Beek has had a stormy progression the last months. A lot of big clubs noticed this.

"That's has been the last one and a half years like this with our players. We have not to think about this, but we have been doing these the last one and a half years already."

In 2019-20, Van de Beek has scored 10 goals in all competitions for Dutch champions Ajax – eight of those in the Eredivisie.

Chelsea have committed €44million to the signing of Hakim Ziyech, who has become one of the most admired talents in European football over the past two seasons at Ajax.

The impending transfer was announced on Thursday but remains subject to Morocco international Ziyech agreeing personal terms at Stamford Bridge.

The 26-year-old was one of the best players on the pitch during a barnstorming 4-4 draw in November's Champions League clash between the sides.

Kepa Arrizabalaga may have been credited with an own goal but it was Ziyech's sensational bending free-kick from the right touchline that did the damage as the visitors opened up a 3-1 half-time lead.

Ziyech, who predominantly operates from the right but can play behind a striker, is now set to feature more regularly at the Bridge and we used Opta data to examine his ability.


THE EREDIVISIE'S MASTER CREATOR

Ziyech has been one of the Eredivisie's top performers since breaking into the first team at Heerenveen in 2012 having risen through the club's youth teams.

After a two-year stop at Twente, Ziyech moved to Ajax in August 2016 where his performances domestically and in Europe have seen his star continue to rise.

Since his switch to the Johan Cruijff ArenA, only four players can boast a higher goals return than his 38 while his sensational tally of 51  Eredivisie assists is 16 better than the 35 of Steven Berghuis, the next highest on the list.

Indeed, his combined 89 goal involvements is in the best in the league during this time, seven more than Berghuis, while Bryan Linssen (who has the most goals with 52 ) is way behind with 66 .

To really emphasise Ziyech's attacking brilliance, his 421 chances created since September 2016 is a whopping 134 more than second-place Berghuis.


MIXING IT WITH MESSI AND MBAPPE IN THE CHAMPIONS LEAGUE

Ajax were the great entertainers of the of the 2018-19 Champions League and only a last-gasp goal from Tottenham's Lucas Moura denied Erik ten Hag's men a place in the final.

Ziyech was typically influential in that run to the last four and since August 2018 he has provided seven assists in Europe's premier competition (excluding qualifiers).

That is as many as team-mate Dusan Tadic and just one fewer than the best of eight achieved by Kylian Mbappe and Riyad Mahrez - and one more than Barcelona great Lionel Messi.

His five goals are 13 fewer than the sensational 18 scored by Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski in the same time, with Messi registering 14 .

Messi tops the list of goal involvements at 20 , with Lewandowski (18) , Mbappe (17) , Raheem Sterling (14) , Tadic and Mohamed Salah (both 13) above Ziyech's combined goals and assists tally of 12 .

In terms of chances created, Ziyech scores highly as well. His 39 is the same as Christian Eriksen and beaten only by Real Madrid midfielder Toni Kroos (51) , Tadic (47) and Messi (41) .


THE STATS

- Since the 2012-13 season, Ziyech has made 217 Eredivisie appearances, scored 79 goals and contributed 87 assists.

- Ziyech has at least 10 assists in each of his previous six Eredivisie seasons, no player has managed to do so in more than two campaigns in the same period.

- No players has more assists (51) , shots (528) , created chances (421) , completed dribbles (288) or recoveries (752) than Ziyech in the Eredivisie since he joined Ajax.

- Over the past two seasons, only Mohamed Salah (79) and Messi (77) have taken more Champions League shots than Ziyech ( 75 same as Cristiano Ronaldo). 

Jadon Sancho is a player in demand.

The former Manchester City youth player is a man in demand due to exploits with Borussia Dortmund.

The Premier League's elite are circling…

 

TOP STORY – LIVERPOOL WANT SANCHO AMID UNITED LINKS

Liverpool want to sign Borussia Dortmund star and Manchester United target Jadon Sancho, according to the Daily Mail.

United are reportedly confident of luring the 19-year-old England international to Old Trafford, ahead of Premier League rivals Chelsea.

However, a fresh report claims Premier League leaders Liverpool have joined the race for the teenager as Jurgen Klopp hopes to take advantage of the relationship with former club Dortmund. Sky Germany also says Sancho will leave Dortmund at the end of the season.

 

ROUND-UP

Barcelona are preparing to re-sign Neymar from Paris Saint-Germain, reports El Confidencial. Neymar, who left Barca for a world-record €222m fee in 2017, has been heavily linked with a return to Camp Nou. After missing out on an off-season move, Neymar could be on his way back to the LaLiga giants – who are reportedly willing to sell one or two players to finance the blockbuster transfer.

- According to The Sun, Chelsea are battling United for the signature of 16-year-old Birmingham City sensation Jude Bellingham, who could cost up to £50million. The teenager has also attracted interest from Barcelona and Real Madrid.

- United recruit Odion Ighalo has been barred from the club's training ground due to ongoing coronavirus precautions, says The Mirror. Ighalo arrived from Chinese Super League side Shanghai Shenhua on deadline day, moving to United on loan until the end of the season. The Nigeria international, however, has not been allowed to train at Carrington.

Barca have ruled out signing Real Sociedad striker Willian Jose, reports Marca. With Ousmane Dembele and Luis Suarez sidelined, Barca are set to receive permission to sign an emergency forward within Spain. Real Betis' Loren Moron now reportedly tops the list of targets.

- Sandro Tonali has been valued at €55m and €60m by Brescia amid interest from Serie A champions Juventus and Inter, according to Calciomercato.

- Liverpool, United and Bayern Munich are eyeing Arsenal teenager Bukayo Saka, reports the Daily Mail.

- AS claims Real Valladolid defender Mohammed Salisu is at the centre of a transfer tug-of-war between Madrid, United and Atletico Madrid.

Ajax head coach Erik ten Hag confirmed Hakim Ziyech is set to join Chelsea at the end of the season, admitting he expected the star forward to leave "one or two years earlier".

Reports on Wednesday emerged that Eredivisie champions Ajax and Premier League giants Chelsea reached a verbal agreement on a €45million (£38m) transfer for Ziyech.

Ziyech came off the bench during Wednesday's 3-0 KNVB Beker victory at Vitesse and Ten Hag provided an update on the 26-year-old Morocco international.

"Ziyech to Chelsea? A transfer was coming, we expected it to happen," Ten Hag told Fox Sports post-game.

"I actually already expected this one or two years earlier. And each time it was: 'Wow, he stayed again'.

"We are just happy that we will still have him until the end of the season."

Ziyech has been directly involved in 166 goals since his Eredivisie debut in 2012-13, contributing 79 goals and 87 assists.

Since joining Ajax from Twente in 2016, Ziyech has scored 38 league goals and 48 across all competitions.

Ziyech's sensational tally of 51 Eredivisie assists from the beginning of the 2016-17 campaign is 16 better than the 35 of Steven Berghuis, the next highest during that period, while his 421 chances created since September 2016 is a whopping 134 more than his nearest rival.

Ten Hag added: "I am not surprised by the news about Ziyech. I know that our players are very popular with the big clubs in Europe. That is just great.

"I have known for a long time what Hakim wants. He has a picture in mind. He knows exactly which clubs he finds interesting and which ones are not. 

"Chelsea are a fantastic club. When it is final, I am very happy for Hakim, and I am very proud of him."

Hakim Ziyech will need little introduction to Chelsea fans if the Morocco international does complete his move to Stamford Bridge from Ajax.

Ziyech was one of the best players on the pitch during a barnstorming 4-4 draw in November's Champions League clash.

Kepa Arrizabalaga may have been credited with an own goal but it was Ziyech's sensational bending free-kick from the right touchline that did the damage as the visitors opened up a 3-1 half-time lead.

Next season, the 26-year-old appears destined to play much more regularly at the Bridge, with reports claiming the Blues have agreed a £38million deal for the attacking midfielder.

Predominantly employed on the right, Ziyech can also play as a number 10 and here we have used Opta data to take a closer look at an exciting talent.


THE EREDIVISIE'S MASTER CREATOR

Ziyech has been one of the Eredivisie's top performers since breaking into the first team at Heerenveen in 2012 having risen through the club's youth teams.

After a two-year stop at Twente, Ziyech moved to Ajax in August 2016 where his performances domestically and in Europe have seen his star continue to rise.

Since his switch to the Johan Cruijff ArenA, only four players can boast a higher goals return than his 38 while his sensational tally of 51 Eredivisie assists is 16 better than the 35 of Steven Berghuis, the next highest on the list.

Indeed, his combined 89 goal involvements is in the best in the league during this time, seven more than Berghuis, while Bryan Linssen (who has the most goals with 52) is way behind with 66.

To really emphasise Ziyech's attacking brilliance, his 421 chances created since September 2016 is a whopping 134 more than second-place Berghuis.


MIXING IT WITH MESSI AND MBAPPE IN THE CHAMPIONS LEAGUE

Ajax were the great entertainers of the of the 2018-19 Champions League and only a last-gasp goal from Tottenham's Lucas Moura denied Erik ten Hag's men a place in the final.

Ziyech was typically influential in that run to the last four and since August 2018 he has provided seven assists in Europe's premier competition.

That is as many as team-mate Dusan Tadic and just one fewer than the best of eight achieved by Kylian Mbappe and Riyad Mahrez - and one more than Barcelona great Lionel Messi.

His five goals are 13 fewer than the sensational 18 scored by Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski in the same time, with Messi registering 14.

Messi tops the list of goal involvements at 20, with Lewandowski (18), Mbappe (17), Raheem Sterling (14), Tadic and Mohamed Salah (both 13) above Ziyech's combined goals and assists tally of 12.

In terms of chances created, Ziyech scores highly as well. His 39 is the same as Christian Eriksen and beaten only by Real Madrid midfielder Toni Kroos (51), Tadic (47) and Messi (41).


THE STATS

- Since the 2012-13 season, Ziyech has made 217 Eredivisie appearances, scored 79 goals and contributed 87 assists.

- Ziyech has at least 10 assists in each of his previous six Eredivisie seasons, no player has managed to do so in more than two campaigns in the same period.

- No players has more assists (51), shots (528), created chances (421), completed dribbles (288) or recoveries (752) than Ziyech in the Eredivisie since he joined Ajax.

- Over the past two seasons, only Mohamed Salah (79) and Messi (77) have taken more Champions League shots than Ziyech (75 same as Cristiano Ronaldo). 

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