Real Madrid are prepared to pay to see Gareth Bale exit, while Manchester United have reportedly made progress in their pursuit of Jadon Sancho.

Bale has found himself on the outer in Madrid and has constantly been linked with a move despite being contracted until 2022.

The Welshman's huge salary is reportedly making it hard for the LaLiga champions to move him on, but they may be prepared to pay to see Bale exit.

 

TOP STORY – MADRID WILLING TO PAY HALF OF BALE'S WAGES

Real Madrid would pay half of Bale's salary to see him make a move, according to The Telegraph.

Bale has been linked with a return to the Premier League, with former club Tottenham reportedly interested.

The latest news could pave the way for Bale to finally leave Madrid after seven years at the club.

ROUND-UP

- Manchester United look to have made some progress in their Sancho chase. ESPN reports the Premier League giants have made progress around wages and agent fees, but still need to find a deal with Borussia Dortmund.

- Houssem Aouar is linked with a move from Lyon, with a switch to the Premier League mooted. The Mirror says Arsenal are keen on the midfielder, who is believed to be a target for Manchester City.

- Barcelona are reportedly facing a dilemma. Mundo Deportivo reports the LaLiga giants are weighing up whether to rely on 17-year-old Ansu Fati or sign Lyon star Memphis Depay ahead of 2020-21.

- There seems to be uncertainty over Alexandre Lacazette's future at Arsenal. ESPN claims the forward is seeking clarification over his role at the Premier League club.

- Stephan El Shaarawy could be set for a return to Europe. Telefoot says Paris Saint-Germain are in contact with the Shanghai Shenhua forward's agents and Juventus, former club Roma and Atletico Madrid are also interested.

- While Watford were relegated from the Premier League, Troy Deeney could yet remain in the top flight. The Daily Mail says the forward is set to leave the club to join a Premier League side.

A "buzzing" Odion Ighalo has thanked Shanghai Shenhua for allowing his loan move to Manchester United to be extended until January 2021.

Ighalo initially joined United in a temporary deal at the end of the January transfer window as the club sought cover in attack for the rest of the season, with Marcus Rashford suffering a long-term injury.

The signing of Ighalo raised eyebrows, but the former Watford man scored four goals in eight matches in all competitions - starting just three of those games.

The season's suspension due to the coronavirus pandemic in March led to concerns United would lose the services of Ighalo before the conclusion of the 2019-20 campaign.

But United confirmed they had reached an agreement with Shanghai on Monday, leaving the 30-year-old overjoyed.

"I'm really happy," he told United's official website. "It's a dream for me to be here. I'm buzzing and ready to go.

"I feel okay. The last few days have been difficult as there have been different talks about it but now I'm really happy, so I need to concentrate fully. I'm here until the end of January, so it's good for me.

"I decided I want to stay and I'm happy. Since the first day I arrived, I made it clear that I wanted whatever it takes to continue that work. It was very difficult, there were some talks, but I'm happy they finally agreed and got everything done. Everything is official now.

"I'm sending thanks to the Shanghai president and director for the support because they know this is what I want. So, I'm thanking them and I'm happy that this has happened. They wish me all the best too.

"Like I've said, since I was young, I've been supporting this club and playing for it is a dream. Now I've extended my loan, it makes it more even clear and I'm committed as I know, in my head, I'm here until the end of January

"I just want to work hard and enjoy it, support the team and do whatever I can to make us go higher and higher."

Pending final government approval, the Premier League will resume later this month.

United head into the final nine league games three points adrift of fourth-place Chelsea, while they are also in the FA Cup quarter-finals and have one foot in the last eight of the Europa League having thrashed LASK 5-0 in their final match before the season halted.

Manchester United have agreed a loan extension with Shanghai Shenhua that ensures they will have the services of forward Odion Ighalo until January 2021.

Former Watford striker Ighalo was a surprise addition at Old Trafford at the end of the mid-season transfer window.

Negotiations to extend his stay were required just to allow him to finish this campaign, with his original spell at United due to finish at the end of May.

But Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's men have now opted to retain the Nigeria international for the first half of next season too, which is testament to his impressive start.

Stats Perform News have used Opta data to look at how Ighalo has done in the very early stages of his United career.
 

IGHALO MAKES MOST OF LIMITED TIME

Ighalo has had limited time to make an impact, as he did not make his debut until February 17, with the coronavirus pandemic halting the season under a month later.

The 30-year-old made a total of 8 appearances for United across all competitions, 3 of which were starts, accumulating 319 minutes on the pitch.

He has scored 4 goals, right in line with his expected goals total of 4.03, and fired in 17 shots on goal, 11 of which were on target.

Ighalo had a shot conversion rate of 23.5 per cent and he also created 8 chances for his team-mates, which includes his 1 assist.

STATS FAVOURABLE COMPARED TO BIG SIX RIVALS

When compared to the main strikers at the other members of the Premier League's big six – Liverpool, Manchester City, Chelsea, Tottenham and Arsenal – Ighalo's stats are favourable.

No player has scored more than his 4 goals across all competitions since February 17, and the only forward who matches him in that tally is in fact team-mate Anthony Martial. 

Arsenal captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who has scored 3, comes the closest.

Liverpool star Mohamed Salah (19) is the only player to fire in more shots, while Ighalo is the top performer when it comes to attempts on target, with Martial second as he sits three behind.

Martial and Mason Greenwood both have better shot conversion rates of 28.57 per cent, with Aubameyang (42.86 per cent) coming out on top in that category.

But Ighalo's mark is still better than that of Liverpool’s front three - Salah (10.53 per cent), Sadio Mane (13.33 per cent) and Roberto Firmino (7.4 per cent) - as well as City duo Gabriel Jesus (15.38 per cent) and Sergio Aguero (13.33 per cent).

Jesus (10) and Salah (9) created marginally more chances than Ighalo, but no other top striker registered more than half of his tally of 8, with Aguero, Mane, Firmino and Greenwood all on 4 as others fared worse.

He and Mane were the only forwards able to register 1 assist over that time too, with his creative play proving an added bonus for United over his early appearances.

Manchester United have struck a deal to extend Odion Ighalo's loan move from Shanghai Shenhua until January 2021.

Ighalo joined United in January, going on to score four goals in eight appearances in all competitions prior to the suspension of the season due to the coronavirus crisis.

The Nigeria international had only been due to stay until May 31, yet United have now agreed to keep him at Old Trafford until January 31 next year.

Former Watford striker Ighalo – who supported United as a boy – has not yet started in the Premier League, but he has netted in each of his starts in the Europa League and FA Cup.

Speaking on MUTV last week, United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said he was hopeful of securing a deal for the 30-year-old.

"The loan deal went until the end of May now, so obviously he's supposed to be going back," Solskjaer said.

"We're in dialogue. They've been great towards us, his club, and allowed him to play for his dream club.

"It's been a dream for him and hopefully he can finish off what he started, hopefully with a trophy for us."

The Premier League season is due to restart on June 17, with teams having returned to contact training last week.

 

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.

Manchester United star Paul Pogba returning to Juventus is apparently shaping as impossible.

Pogba, 27, has been linked with a move away from Old Trafford, with Juventus and Real Madrid reportedly interested in landing the midfielder.

But it seems the Serie A giants will find such a deal impossible.

 

TOP STORY – POGBA RETURNING TO JUVENTUS IS IMPOSSIBLE

Pogba leaving Manchester United to return to Juventus is looking impossible, according to Sport and Corriere dello Sport.

Sport says the Bianconeri cannot afford the €100million (£89m) United would want for the France international.

Pogba left Juve to join United for £89m (€105m) in 2016.

ROUND-UP

- James Rodriguez is pushing for a stay in the Spanish capital. Mundo Deportivo reports the Real Madrid playmaker is determined to sign for Atletico Madrid.

- Real Madrid may be looking for a back-up in his position, but Casemiro is seemingly going nowhere. Marca claims the midfielder recently extended his contract until 2023.

- Odion Ighalo is set for a return to China. The Mirror reports the striker is expecting to go back to Shanghai Shenhua from his loan spell at Manchester United after just eight appearances for the Premier League club, with the Chinese Super League side demanding he returns. Goal says United will focus on RB Leipzig forward Timo Werner and Lyon's Moussa Dembele with Ighalo leaving.

- Forget trying to land Ansu Fati this close season. According to Sport, Barcelona will keep the 17-year-old, who is reportedly wanted by Borussia Dortmund and Premier League clubs.

- Newcastle United are looking at signing Liverpool midfielder Xherdan Shaqiri if they are taken over, according to the Daily Mail.

- It seems Adam Lallana is set to leave Liverpool when his contract expires at the end of the season. The Mirror reports Burnley have joined the fight for the midfielder, who is also said to be a target for Leicester City, Arsenal, Tottenham and West Ham.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has admitted Manchester United could lose on-loan striker Odion Ighalo at the end of this week.

United are attempting to extend the former Watford player's stay at Old Trafford, but a deal has yet to be struck with Ighalo's parent Chinese club, Shanghai Shenhua.

Manager Solskjaer wants to keep hold of Ighalo for if and when the Premier League season resumes, after he made a bright impact in the early weeks of his temporary switch to United.

Time is running out though, with Ighalo's short-term contract, agreed at the end of January, due to expire at the end of this month.

Solskjaer told MUTV: "The loan deal went until the end of May now, so obviously he's supposed to be going back.

"We're in dialogue. They've been great towards us, his club, and allowed him to play for his dream club.

"It's been a dream for him and hopefully he can finish off what he started, hopefully with a trophy for us.

"At the moment, nothing has been agreed. Their league is going to get started soon so we're just waiting to see."

Nigerian Ighalo, 30, supported United as a boy and has scored four goals in eight appearances for the club, netting in each of his three starts.

The Premier League season, suspended in March due to the coronavirus pandemic, could resume in June, but officials have admitted there is a chance the campaign may have to be curtailed.

Neymar's return to Barcelona could be getting a little closer.

The Paris Saint-Germain star continues to be linked with a return to Camp Nou, where he left in 2017 for a world-record €222million.

While there is uncertainty over whether Barcelona can get a deal done, it seems it may be getting closer.

 

TOP STORY – NEYMAR CLOSER TO BARCELONA RETURN AS PSG EYE DEMBELE

Paris Saint-Germain remain very interested in signing Ousmane Dembele and it could help Neymar return to Barcelona, according to Sport.

France international Dembele has struggled with injuries since joining Barca from Borussia Dortmund in 2017, but the former Rennes attacker could be set for a return to his homeland.

However, Marca reports Neymar is not a priority for Barcelona with their focus on Inter star Lautaro Martinez and Juventus midfielder Miralem Pjanic.

Staying at Barcelona and Sport says the club are following Hertha Berlin's 18-year-old midfielder Lazar Samardzic.

 

ROUND-UP

- Timo Werner starred again for RB Leipzig on Sunday with a hat-trick against Mainz in the Bundesliga. Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp held a virtual meeting with the forward in recent weeks, according to journalist Raphael Honigstein.

- With Bayern Munich deciding not to buy Philippe Coutinho, the Barcelona attacker's future remains unclear. Le 10 Sport reports Arsenal want to start talks with the playmaker's agent, with head coach Mikel Arteta dreaming of signing the Brazil international.

- Toni Kroos looks set to finish his career at Real Madrid. AS reports the 30-year-old midfielder has no interest in leaving Madrid, where he is contracted until 2023, amid links to MLS and the Chinese Super League.

- Odion Ighalo's Manchester United career may be over already. According to the Daily Mail, Shanghai Shenhua have rejected the Premier League club's requests to keep the forward – who has scored four goals in eight games for United – on loan for another three months.

- Could Raul Jimenez leave Wolves for Juventus? Todofichajes reports Juve offered Adrien Rabiot plus €30m (£26.7m) for the star forward.

- Less than a year after leaving Newcastle United, Rafael Benitez is being linked with a return. Benitez, now coach of Dalian Professional in China, wants to return to the club if their proposed takeover is resolved, and sign Manchester City defender John Stones and Chelsea midfielder Ross Barkley.

Barcelona are seemingly getting closer to landing Lautaro Martinez.

The Inter star continues to be linked with a move to Camp Nou, where he could play alongside Argentina team-mate Lionel Messi more regularly.

It appears an agreement has almost been reached.

TOP STORY – BARCELONA, INTER AGREEMENT FOR LAUTARO 'IMMINENT'

Barcelona and Inter are finalising a deal for Lautaro Martinez, according to the cover of SPORT.

The report says the clubs are going to agree a deal of close to €60million plus two players – midfielder Arturo Vidal and either Nelson Semedo or Emerson.

SPORT also reports Barca and Martinez have a verbal agreement for a four-year deal.

ROUND-UP

- Juventus are still looking to sign Manchester United star Paul Pogba. AS reports Juve are offering the Premier League club Aaron Ramsey and Adrien Rabiot in their bid to complete a deal.

- Talk continues over Miralem Pjanic's potential switch to Barcelona. SPORT claims Juventus have also offered LaLiga's champions Mattia De Sciglio, along with the midfielder. SPORT also says Jean-Clair Todibo, who is on loan at Schalke, could be part of the deal.

- With 22 goals for Lyon this season, Moussa Dembele continues to attract interest from the Premier League. The Daily Star reports Manchester United are increasingly confident of landing the former Celtic forward in a £60m (€68.4m) deal.

- Odion Ighalo's loan at Manchester United from Shanghai Shenhua expires at the end of June. The Sun says the striker is desperate to extend his stay at Old Trafford, with the Chinese Super League club reportedly demanding a transfer fee.

- Linked with a move to Liverpool, Werder Bremen striker Milot Rashica appears to be heading elsewhere. BILD reports the 23-year-old's move to RB Leipzig is becoming more and more likely. Rashica has scored seven goals in 20 Bundesliga games this season.

Stephan El Shaarawy confirmed he was close to returning to Roma in January in a bid to earn a place in Italy's squad for Euro 2020.

El Shaarawy, who left Roma for Shanghai Shenhua last year, was heavily linked with a return, but no move was completed.

A 25-time Italy international, the attacker said he was prepared to return amid interest from two Serie A clubs, including Roma.

"There was the possibility of returning to Italy," El Shaarawy told Fabio Cannavaro during an Instagram Live chat on Sunday, via Corriere dello Sport.

"When the virus broke out, I had spoken to the club saying that I needed to play to earn a place in the European Championship.

"Having already had a great consideration from [Italy coach Roberto] Mancini despite my move to China, I was ready to return to play regularly, but then nothing was done.

"There had been contacts with two teams. One was Roma."

The coronavirus pandemic saw the European Championship pushed back to 2021.

El Shaarawy featured in two qualifiers for the tournament, scoring once.

Odion Ighalo is yet to receive an offer to extend his stay at Manchester United beyond the end of this season.

Former Watford striker Ighalo joined United on loan until the end of the campaign from Shanghai Shenhua at the end of the January transfer window.

The deal sparked derision in some quarters, but the 30-year-old Nigeria international has scored in each of his three United starts. He has four goals from eight appearances in total.

United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has praised Ighalo for offering the Red Devils something different in attack, though it remains to be seen if he has a long-term future at Old Trafford.

"There is no offer on the table yet because the season is still on, I've not finished my loan deal," Ighalo told Elegbete TV.

"I don't just take decisions alone in my life. I have a principle and I have a guideline for everything I do. I always pray to God to direct me.

"I have seen so many tweets about this. I have seen so many people going crazy, [saying] 'Go back to China', some say 'Stay with Man United'.

"Have you seen me say a word? I've not said a word because I don't have anything to say. When the season is finished and I get offers from the two teams, then I will sit and think about it, pray about it and whatever God says I should do, I will go with that.

"I don't just sit down and take decisions, and I don't get carried away with whatever people say. I came to Manchester United to play for a pay cut because I wanted to. So anything could still happen, but I want the season to finish and my loan to finish. Then I will see everything I have on the ground.

"Man United might come with an offer, another team might come with an offer. You never know.

"You don't just rush and do things: 'I'm going here, I'm going here.' I have to sit down and finish the season well, sit down with my agent, see what's on the ground: 'A, B, C, D, is on the ground. Okay we have to pick.'"

Odion Ighalo was happy to take a pay cut to help push through a deadline day move to Manchester United.

Nigeria striker Ighalo joined United on loan from Shanghai Shenhua until the end of the season on Friday, returning to the Premier League where he spent a previous spell with Watford.

Although United's interest in Ighalo came late, the player insists he had no hesitation in temporarily ending a lucrative spell in China to join a club he has always admired.

He told MUTV: "From 11pm there was paperwork, negotiating and all that, for the loan deal, so we are talking and other teams are calling them, wanting me. But I told my agent that this is what I want. I want to come here.

"He said: 'You’re going to get a pay cut to go to United.' I said: 'I don’t care. Make this deal happen. I want to go to United. I don’t care how much is the pay cut, I know that, make it happen.'"

Ighalo is likely to get the chance to impress at Old Trafford with a lack of attacking options exacerbated by an injury to Marcus Rashford.

He added: "I’m very happy. It’s just like a dream come true for me.

"People that know me, even back in Nigeria, and even when I was playing at Watford, my team-mates knew that I loved Man United, I support them.

"When I played against Man U, that emotion is there, because it is my dream.

"When we were young in Nigeria, we used to watch the Premier League when the likes of Andy Cole and Dwight Yorke played...

"People supported Manchester United a lot so I developed a love because all my siblings are Man Utd fans.

"I never thought this [move] was going to happen but dreams come true. I am very happy to be here and it's going to be a big and good challenge in my career."

With the Premier League's winter break now under way, United's next game does not come until February 17 when Ole Gunnar Solskjaer takes his side to Chelsea.

United are currently seventh in the table, six points adrift of the Londoners, who occupy fourth.

Chinese clubs in the AFC Champions League have seen their first three group games postponed due to concerns about the spread of the coronavirus.

The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) announced on Tuesday that the matches, which were due to be held this month and in March, will be rearranged for April and May.

The exception is the game between Chiangrai United and Beijing FC, which will go ahead as planned on February 18 as Beijing are in South Korea on a training camp and therefore "may not need quarantine measures", according to the AFC.

Shanghai Shenhua, Guangzhou Evergrande and Shanghai SIPG are the other Chinese Super League sides involved in this year's tournament.

The AFC's decision came after an emergency meeting in Kuala Lumpur was called after failed initial attempts to have all four Chinese clubs play their first three group games away from home.

The AFC put forward that idea on January 29 but said it proved impossible because "some governments, including Australia, have introduced restrictions which made it impossible for Chinese clubs to travel to play the re-arranged matches".

Dato' Windsor John, the AFC general secretary, said in a statement: "We came together in difficult circumstances to find solutions to allow us to play football while ensuring we protect the safety and security of all players, officials, stakeholders and fans.

"We also accept that this coronavirus is a much bigger issue than just football and we wish all those who have been affected a speedy return to health."

China's top flight has already suspended the opening round of matches due to the coronavirus, while the World Athletics Indoor Championships in Nanjing have been put back to 2021 and this year's Chinese Grand Prix also appears under threat.

The World Health Organisation has declared the outbreak of the virus a global health emergency.

There were 20,630 confirmed cases of the disease, which has mostly affected China but has spread to 153 other countries, as of February 4. At least 362 people have died.

Manchester United loanee Odion Ighalo described joining the Red Devils as a "dream come true" following his deadline-day switch.

United completed a shock loan deal for Shanghai Shenhua striker Ighalo on Friday, with the 30-year-old joining until the end of the Premier League season.

With injured star forward Marcus Rashford facing at least two months on the sidelines, United turned to Ighalo, who scored 10 goals for Chinese Super League side Shenhua last term.

"It's a dream come true because since I was a kid I followed and dreamt of Manchester United," former Watford striker Ighalo told Sky Sports News.

"But it is a reality now. I cannot say much more now until I get started."

Ighalo, who was linked to United during former boss Louis van Gaal's tenure after scoring 40 goals from 100 appearances across all competitions for Watford, has starred in China.

After netting 36 times in all competitions in two seasons with Chinese side Changchun Yatai, Nigeria international Ighalo left for Shenhua in 2019.

"It's been crazy. Obviously, I am happy to be in Manchester first of all," he said. "This is a great opportunity for me and I am grateful to God, and to my agent, and the coach who has given me this opportunity to be here.

"I am happy to be here and to work out with the team and finish very well this season. The plan is to just chill today because I travelled a very long way from Shanghai to Manchester. Today is to just rest and tomorrow we start to work."

United drew 0-0 at home to Wolves on Saturday and have no drawn in blank in their past three top-flight outings. 

After the mid-season break, seventh-placed United – six points adrift of the Champions League places – travel to rivals Chelsea on February 17.

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said Odion Ighalo is a "great lad and very professional" as the Premier League giants completed a deadline-day loan move for the Shanghai Shenhua striker.

Ighalo leaves Chinese Super League (CSL) outfit Shenhua for Manchester on loan until the end of the season at Old Trafford, where there is reportedly no option to buy the Nigeria international.

The 30-year-old arrives at the Theatre of Dreams to help fill the void left by injured star forward Marcus Rashford, who has been ruled out for at least two months.

"Odion is an experienced player. He will come in and give us an option of a different type of centre-forward for the short spell he's staying with us," Solskjaer said on Friday.

"A great lad and very professional, he will make the most of his time here."

Ighalo's loan deal comes after United finally signed Sporting CP captain Bruno Fernandes for a fee of £46.5million (€55m) and a potential further £21.1m (€25m) in add-ons on Thursday.

After finally concluding their Fernandes chase, United turned to attacking reinforcements amid Rashford's injury and the Red Devils beat the transfer deadline to bring former Watford striker Ighalo to the club.

Ighalo, who was previously linked to United during former boss Louis van Gaal's tenure after scoring 40 goals from 100 appearances across all competitions for Watford, has starred in China.

After scoring 36 goals in all competitions in two seasons with Chinese side Changchun Yatai, Ighalo netted 10 times for Shenhua last term.

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