Ole Gunnar Solskjaer: Manchester United manager says he will avoid buying ‘rotten apples’

apples’

Solskjaer outlines transfer policy; watch Tottenham vs Manchester United live on Sky Sports on June 19

Who will Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer sign next?
Who will Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer sign next?

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer says he will avoid adding “rotten apples” to his squad and insists new signings must reflect his personality.

Solskjaer signed Harry MaguireDaniel James and Aaron Wan-Bissaka in his first summer transfer window as United boss in an attempt to shape a new-look team around a core of ambitious, young British players.Sponsored link

Portugal international Bruno Fernandes then arrived at Old Trafford from Sporting Lisbon in January – followed by the loan signing of Nigeria striker Odion Ighalo – and United continue to be linked with more domestic and foreign talent this summer.

Harry Maguire arrived at Old Trafford from Leicester in an £80m deal last summer

Despite the coronavirus pandemic potentially affecting any big-money transfers this year, Solskjaer says any player he adds to his squad in the future will have to buy into the club’s collective philosophy.

“I did feel that I was professional and did feel privileged to play for Manchester United,” Solskjaer told the Shiv Nadar Foundation.null

“I wouldn’t be able to look at myself if I didn’t know I’d given everything for my team-mates and my manager.

“That’s what I also now look for in players that we sign or we bring up from the youth team. You have to have a good personality and that you are professional because one rotten apple in the basket will make the others rotten.

Bruno Fernandes has been a revelation since joining United from Sporting Lisbon in January

“So for me it’s about building a team that will reflect me and my coaching staff’s personalities and views. Of course there are standards because we want to win. We are in the business to win.

“But the first step to be a Manchester United player and person, you have to be humble enough to know you always have to work hard. Never give in and always do your best, 100 per cent effort is required every day and don’t think you are better than you are.

“You still have to play with that confidence at the same time. It’s a fine balance but that is what is going to make the difference when we want to get to the championship again that we want to win.”

Stoke boss Michael O’Neill tests positive for coronavirus; Man Utd friendly cancelled

Stoke boss O’Neill tests positive for COVID-19 with match at Carrington cancelled immediately

Stoke manager Michael O'Neill has tested positive for coronavirus

Manchester United were forced to cancel their friendly with Stoke at the last minute after the Championship side’s manager Michael O’Neill tested positive for coronavirus.

The sides were due to meet at United’s Carrington training centre but the match was immediately abandoned without kicking a ball when the Northern Irishman tested positive, with United insisting none of their squad came into contact with him.

United had been stepping up their preparations for the return of the Premier League on June 17, with their first match back against Tottenham next Friday, and it appears the squad still trained after Stoke left Carrington.

O’Neill was showing no symptoms of the virus when he got news of his positive test.null

“Stoke City can confirm that manager Michael O’Neill has tested positive for the Covid-19 virus following the latest round of testing on Monday (June 8),” the Potters said in a statement.

“O’Neill had tested negative in the previous five rounds of testing. He will now follow the relevant guidance and undergo a period of isolation, whilst continuing to be in regular virtual contact with his coaching staff and players.

“Assistant manager Billy McKinlay will take charge of training as the Potters prepare for their game against Reading on June 20. The club will be making no further comment on this matter.”

Man United insist none of their squad came into contact with the infected Stoke boss

In the latest round of Premier League coronavirus testing, there were no new positive cases confirmed.

The Premier League say they tested 1,195 players and club staff for COVID-19 on Thursday June 4 and Friday June 5.

This was the sixth round of testing and the second time there have been zero positives, with just one positive in total in the last three rounds.

Since the programme began, the Premier League has now carried out 6,274 tests for COVID-19, with 13 positives and 6,261 negatives.

There were six positives from three clubs in the first round of testing, followed by two positives from two clubs, four positives from three clubs, zero positives, one positive – and now a second all-clear.

Project Restart rules require a player who returns a positive test to remain away from group activities for 14 days (subject to the return of a negative test after seven days, should the player be asymptomatic).

Testing will continue on a twice-weekly basis

BREAKING NEWS:FA

The FA is discussing proposals to move the summer transfer window to August until October.

The window in England is currently scheduled to open in just 10 days’ time on June 18 – but that is not expected to go ahead.

The 2019-20 Premier League season will resume that same week and will continue into July while the final nine rounds of fixtures are completed.

FIFA are set provide guidance on the parameters between which new windows can be set, and it is then down to individual associations to finalise specific dates.

The FA is also consulting with other associations across Europe and there is said to be some consensus over a deadline of Friday October 2.

Transfer Centre: James Rodriguez, Kai Havertz, Kalidou Koulibaly LIVE!

The latest transfer news and rumours, with updates on James Rodriguez, Kai Havertz, Kalidou Koulibaly and much more!

James Rodriguez
Kai Havertz

FA IN TALKS TO MOVE TRANSFER WINDOW

The Football Association is discussing proposals to move the summer transfer window to August until October.

The window in England is currently scheduled to open on June 18 – but that is not expected to go ahead. The 2019-20 Premier League season will resume that same week and will continue into July while the final nine rounds of fixtures are completed.

FIFA are set provide guidance on the parameters between which new windows can be set, and it is then down to individual associations to finalise specific dates.

The FA is also consulting with other associations across Europe and there is said to be some consensus over a deadline of Friday, October 2.

Manchester United have been sounded out over a cut-price deal for long-term target James Rodriguez. (The Sun)Kalidou Koulibaly has been told to snub Manchester United for their Premier League rivals, Liverpool or Chelsea, this summer. (Daily Mirror)Chelsea will attempt another raid on the Bundesliga with a move for Bayer Leverkusen starlet Kai Havertz. (Daily Mail)Adam Lallana is poised to agree a short-term deal with Liverpool that will enable him to stay at Anfield for their title coronation. (Daily Mail)Celtic face a fight with a top English Premier League club to land Fraser Forster this summer.

ARSENAL PUT OFF BY AARONS PRICE TAG

Arsenal are interested in signing defender Max Aarons this summer but are being put off by the asking price, reports in the Daily Mail suggest.

Aarons has a £30m price tag at Norwich after impressing in a struggling Canaries team.

Mikel Arteta is keen to strengthen his options in defence. 

Manchester City’s CAS appeal hearing against European ban set to begin

City to be represented by high-profile lawyers in three-day Court of Arbitration for Sport video conference, with decision expected in August

explains what it could mean for Manchester City if CAS uphold their ban from European football

Manchester City are preparing for one of the biggest weeks in the club’s history, with their appeal against a two-year ban from European competition starting at the Court of Arbitration for Sport on Monday.

City will miss out on the prestige of playing in the Champions League for the next two seasons and estimated revenues of £200m unless they convince three judges in the three-day video conference hearing that they have not broken UEFA’s financial fair play (FFP) rules.

A decision is expected before this season’s Champions League is due to restart in August.

The competition was suspended in March with City well-placed to reach the quarter-finals after winning 2-1 at Real Madrid in a last-16 first-leg tie.

Man City's Kevin De Bruyne celebrates with team-mate Riyad Mahrez after his penalty against Real Madrid

Image:Man City’s Kevin De Bruyne celebrates with team-mate Riyad Mahrez after scoring in the 2-1 Champions League win at Real Madrid in February

In February, UEFA banned City from Europe for the next two seasons and fined them €30m (£26.06m) for “serious breaches” of the FFP rules and for failing to co-operate with the investigation.

In an interview with City’s in-house media team, chief executive Ferran Soriano said he was “disappointed but not surprised” by the decision.

“The fans can be sure of two things,” he said. “The first one is that the allegations are false. The second is that we will do everything that can be done to prove it.”

City were found to have overstated sponsorship revenue and break-even information in accounts submitted to UEFA between 2012 and 2016.

City have hired a group of high-profile lawyers to represent them at the CAS hearing. Their legal team is led by David Pannick QC of Blackstone Chambers and Paul Harris QC of Monckton Chambers.

Lord Pannick successfully represented Gina Miller against the government in September when the Supreme Court decided the Prime Minister Boris Johnson acted illegally by suspending Parliament.

UEFA’s lawyers include Dr Jan Kleiner, a partner at Bär & Karrer and co-head of the Swiss firm’s sport practice group, and Mark Phillips QC of South Square Chambers.

UEFA opened an investigation into City following the publication of documents on the Football Leaks website and Der Spiegel in November 2018.

Sheikh Mansour

Image:Sheikh Mansour purchased Manchester City in August 2008

The German magazine said City’s owners had tried to get around FFP rules by putting money into the club disguised as sponsorship income. One document appeared to show that Etihad Airways was paying only £8m of a £67m sponsorship agreement.

If City’s ban is confirmed by CAS, the team who finishes fifth this season – currently Manchester United – will qualify for the Champions League.

In November last year, CAS rejected an attempt by City to have the case dismissed and the ban overturned on procedural grounds.

FFP was introduced by UEFA in 2009 to prevent clubs from falling into serious financial difficulties by overspending. Clubs are required to operate within their means and meet break-even targets, while dealings have to be transparent.

City have been a Champions League club for nine seasons in a row since they qualified for the competition for the first time in 2011/12. They had previously played in the European Cup in 1968.

Missing out on European football would result in a loss of revenue of about £100m a season.

Additionally, transfer targets may be reluctant to join a club who are not in Europe and questions would be asked about the futures of some of City’s most valuable players.

Pep Guardiola

Image:Pep Guardiola has said he is committed to Manchester City

Pep Guardiola has already confirmed he will stay at the club next season even if they are banned from European competition.

City were fined £49m by UEFA in 2014 for breaking FFP rules. £32m of the fine was suspended.

The Premier League said in March last year it was investigating to see if City had broken any of their financial regulations.

Edo Guber Poll: APC probes certificates of Obaseki, five other aspirants

PDP Seeks To Take Over Vacant State Assembly Seats

The All Progressives Congress (APC) has expressed its resolve to probe into the genuineness of relevant documents including the educational certificates of Governor Godwin Obaseki and five others for the party’s June 22, 2020 gubernatorial Primary Election in Edo state.

The six aspirants, who have bought, completed and submitted the party’s expression of interest and nomination forms are Osagie Ize-Iyamu, Godwin Obaseki, Dr. Pius Odubu, Engr. Chris Ogiemwonyi, Osaro Obazee and Matthew Aigbuhuenze Iduoriyekemwen.

Osagie Ize-Iyamu
Godwin Obaseki
Dr. Pius Odubu
Engr. Chris Ogiemwonyi
Osaro Obazee
Matthew Aigbuhuenze Iduoriyekemwen

APC, in a statement by its national publicity secretary, Malam Lanre Issa-Onilu, explained that the decision was aimed at ensuring due diligence and transparency in the screening exercise.

Meanwhile, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the State, yesterday, described as unacceptable the committee set up by Edo state Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki to reconcile members-elect in the Edo State House of Assembly (EDHA).

The PDP publicity secretary in Edo, Mr. Chris Nehikhare noted that it was wrong to describe members-elect, whose seats were declared vacant for failing to report for duty, as lawmakers-elect.

Chris Nehikhare

In a statement in Benin, Nehikhare said that the setting up of the committee was baseless, adding that the 14 persons to reconcile with could no longer be described as lawmakers-elect because their seats had long been declared vacant.

Explaining further, Nehikhare said by law, the seats declared vacant ought to be occupied by PDP members who finished as runners-up in the election, noting: “Their refusal to subscribe to the oath of membership and allegiance all through the first session and first quarter of the 7th Assembly was tantamount to abdication of office.

In reference to the circumstances surrounding the nullification of its victory in the Bayelsa governorship poll, the APC explained that the certificates verification was due to its “recent shocking experiences, and to avoid any lapses in the process.”

It noted: “We are making the submitted information and documents of the governorship aspirants available to our party members and the public for verification of claims and to support the screening panel with information or any objection to the claims contained in the submission by the aspirants. 

“Consequently, the various submissions will be displayed at the Party’s National Secretariat in Abuja and in Benin City, the Edo State capital from Monday, June 8 to Tuesday, June 9, 2020 for claims and objections.”

Recall that in line with the provisions of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended) and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) guidelines, APC had earlier released its timetable and schedule of activities for the conduct of the 2020 Governorship Primary Elections in Edo State.Advertisement

Ondo 2020: Falana ready support for Akeredolu’s re-election

A Chieftain of{ the All Progressives Congress(APC) in Ondo State, Mrs Olamide Falana, has drummed support for the re-election bid of Gov. Rotimi Akeredolu in the party’s July 20 primaries.

Mrs olamide falana
Akeredolu

Falana made this known on Sunday at a get together for Apoi ward 4 leaders, youths and party members at Igbonini in Ese-Odo Local Government Area of the state

She encouraged party leaders to focus on the goal which would ensure the success of Gov. Akeredolu whose mother was from Apoi.

The APC chieftain said the meeting was to boost the morale of the ward leaders in her community and to genuinely work assiduously to ensure Akeredolu’s victory both at the primary election of the party and the general election.

The ward chairman, Elder Duyile Manuwa, appreciated the convener whom he described as a respected leader in the ward and community for meeting the needs of the people in her own little way at all times.

Manuel promised to continue to rally support for success of the party and solicited people’s support for Akeredolu.Ad

Also the Ward Secretary, Mr Akinboboye Orimisan, said they were in full support of the governor’s re-election bid.

He promised to continue to mobilise the entire ward and community in support of the governor.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the meeting was well attended by political gladiators in APC in the community.

Arsenal’s top 50 signings that got away (25-1)Arsenal’s top 50 signings that got away (25-1)

Arsene Wenger was honest enough to admit he missed out on some of the world’s best players. These are Arsenal’s ultimate nearly men.

Arsenal have signed some of the best players in the world, and they have missed out on some of the best players in the world. For every Thierry Henry, there’s been a Cristiano Ronaldo. These are the ones that got away

25. Xabi Alonso

“I was with Xabi on the phone the whole summer. He was dying to come. He was literally begging everyone to go to Arsenal.”

Cesc Fabregas revealed earlier this year just how close Xabi Alonso really came to joining him in north London back in 2008.null

A central midfield partnership of Fabregas and Alonso was really on the cards.null

Alonso had spent three seasons at Liverpool, and as Rafa Benitez stepped up his pursuit of Aston Villa’s Gareth Barry, he was prepared to let the Spaniard leave.

Alonso ended up staying on Merseyside for one more year though before joining Real Madrid.

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24. Jadon Sancho

It’s unclear how the coronavirus pandemic will affect the summer transfer window, but one thing we do know is Jadon Sancho will be talked about a lot.

The England international has emerged as one of the world’s most exciting young players since he swapped Manchester City for Borussia Dortmund in 2017, but things could have been very different if he swapped City for Arsenal instead.

A number of top European clubs remain interested in signing Jadon Sancho

Arsene Wenger says he tried to get the former Watford academy player back to London when he was struggling for game time in Manchester.

City refused to sell to a Premier League rival but he would have been a lot cheaper then. Borussia Dortmund signed him for £8m. They now value him at more than £100m.

23. N’Golo Kante

Arsenal made two attempts to sign N’Golo Kante, first when he was playing for French side Caen, and the second, more memorably, in the summer of 2016.

After just one season in the Premier League, Kante was one of the most in-demand players in Europe, having played a lead role in Leicester’s historic title win.

His contribution was so big that Claudio Ranieri said they lost two players when he left Leicester that summer.

Arsenal, who were looking for a defensive midfielder with Mikel Arteta and Mathieu Flamini heading towards the exit, joined Manchester City and Chelsea in a battle for his signature.

In July that year, Chelsea announced that they had signed him in a £32m deal.

Meanwhile, Arsenal signed Granit Xhaka from Borussia Monchengladbach for £35m instead.

As for Kante? He went on to win a second consecutive Premier League title.

22. Paul Pogba

Seven years on from Patrick Vieira’s departure from north London, Arsenal were still searching for a replacement, with Arsene Wenger admitting he tried to sign Paul Pogba when he left Manchester United in the summer of 2012.

“We were interested in him,” Wenger said.

“We tried to get him to come here but he very quickly signed for Juventus.”

Arsene Wenger admitted he wanted to sign Paul Pogba before the Frenchman joined Juventus

In Italy Pogba went on to become one of the most exciting young prospects in Europe, winning four consecutive Serie A titles.

He of course ended up returning to the United for £89m in 2016. It might not have been the reunion some United fans had hoped for, but Pogba’s quality is undeniable, while Arsenal are still searching for that Vieira replacement.

21. Claude Makelele

The name Claude Makelele probably still winds up Arsene Wenger.

He could have been one of Wenger’s first signings at Highbury.

Makelele came through the ranks at the famous Nantes academy which produced midfielders such as Didier Deschamps, Marcel Desailly, Christian Karembeu.

Arsenal could have signed him in 1997 but he moved to Marseille instead. He went on to play for Celta Vigo, Real Madrid, Chelsea and Paris Saint-Germain, establishing himself as one of the best defensive midfielders of all time.

Arsene Wenger was an admirer of compatriot Claude Makelele

At Madrid, many of his teammates said he was the most important player at the club. He sat back and covered for players such as Zinedine Zidane, Ronaldo, Figo, and Ronaldo.

He was controversially sold to Chelsea in 2003 for £16m to make room for the arrival of David Beckham.

His then team-mate Roberto Carlos was not impressed: “Why put another layer of gold paint on the Bentley when you are losing the entire engine?” he said at the time.

Vieira and Makelele would have been some engine at Arsenal.

20. Roberto Carlos

Speaking of Roberto Carlos, during the summer of 2003 it looked like he might be moving to Highbury.

“I think as a club they are like Real Madrid,” he told the News of the World, “They have a supreme confidence that looks utterly unbreakable.”

He was right. Arsenal were utterly unbreakable. The following season they were ‘Invincible’ with Ashley Cole playing at left-back.

19. Raphael Varane

“When you are in charge of a club like Arsenal, you have to wonder why this player is not playing for us,” Arsene Wenger said when he was asked about Raphael Varane in 2013.

It’s no different if you are an Arsenal supporter. Part of the deal is having to accept that your club regularly misses out on signing some of the world’s best players.

Raphael Varane (right) was being tracked by Arsenal at Lens, before his big-money move to Real Madrid

That was certainly the case with Varane when he was just 18 and playing for Lens. Arsenal watched him closely but they backed out of a deal because they thought it would take him too long to mature into a top-class defender.

Real Madrid didn’t have any doubts and in 2011 they signed him for £9m. At the Bernabeu, he has won 17 major honours and become one of the best defenders in the world.

18. Vincent Kompany

2006 was a memorable year for Arsenal. The club’s last season at Highbury. Their first and only Champions League final. Beating their bitter rivals Tottenham into fourth on the final day of the season. And letting Vincent Kompany slip through their fingers.

Arsene Wenger thought Kompany, who was playing for Anderlecht at the time, could be a long-term replacement for Sol Campbell. He met his agent, but Arsenal failed to make a concrete offer.

Instead, Kompany joined Hamburg before Manchester City signed him for £6m in 2008. The rest is history.

17. Peter Schmeichel

Peter Schmeichel could have been an Arsenal player? Are you having a laugh? We are not joking.

According to George Graham, he was offered the chance to sign Schmeichel but he decided against it because he had total faith in David Seaman to be his No 1.

Schmeichel ended up moving from Brondby to Manchester United for £500,000 in the summer of 1991. At Old Trafford he proved himself to be one of the greatest goalkeepers of all time, winning five titles in eight seasons and the Champions League.

16. Karim Benzema

A picture of Karim Benzema on a private jet and the fact he’d followed an Instagram account called ‘Wengerland’ sent some Arsenal fans into meltdown in the summer of 2015.

Some were so convinced the move was going to happen they even had ‘Benzema, 9’ printed on the back of their shirts.

The French striker had been on Arsene Wenger’s wish-list since he started making a name for himself at Lyon.

In July 2009 Real Madrid signed him for £35m and he is still at the Bernabeu, despite being regularly linked with a move to Arsenal.

15. Harry Kane

Yes. That’s right. Harry Kane should be playing for Arenal. He was signed by them when he was eight, but he was released after one season.

“He was a bit chubby. He wasn’t very athletic – but we made a mistake,” said Liam Brady, the former Arsenal academy director.

Harry Kane was released by Tottenham’s north London rivals after he signed for them aged eight

The problem is, Kane has been proving Arsenal wrong at the home of their most bitter rivals.

He’s already scored well over 100 Premier League goals for Tottenham, won the World Cup Golden Boot in 2018, and is captain of the England national team.

14. Antoine Griezmann

It was the summer of 2013 and Arsenal had just missed out on signing Luis Suarez.

A then 22-year-old Antoine Griezmann had scored 10 goals in La Liga for Real Sociedad and a move to Arsenal was said to interest him and he was keen to speak to Arsene Wenger.

That summer though was the window when Arsenal signed Mesut Ozil for £42.4m from Real Madrid and any interest in Griezmann was soon placed on the back burner.

Atletico Madrid subsequently triggered his £24m Sociedad release clause in 2014 and Griezmann quickly established himself as one of the world’s best young forwards. He moved to Barcelona last summer in one of Spanish football’s most controversial transfers of all time.

13. Gianluigi Buffon

According to Gianluigi Buffon, he had dinner with Arsene Wenger in 1998 and you don’t have to be Albert Einstein to guess what was on the menu.

Buffon was only 20 but he had already established himself as one of the best young goalkeepers in the world. Wenger had David Seaman as his No. 1 at Highbury but he had to be interested when it came to someone as talented as Buffon.

Despite Arsenal’s interest, the move never materialised and Buffon moved to Juventus for £50m in 2001. Apart from one season at Paris Saint-Germain, he has been there ever since, winning nine Serie A titles and the 2006 World Cup with Italy.

12. Kylian Mbappe

“I met with Arsene Wenger, who is a great coach. He has a great reputation here in France, he’s well-respected and knows how to develop young players. This was a real option for me.”

Oh, what might have been.

Kylian Mbappe held talks with Arsenal before agreeing to move from Monaco to Paris Saint-Germain

Long before Kylian Mbappe was a household name, Arsene Wenger tried to bring him to north London and he tried again in 2017.

Talks were held but the cost was astronomical and Mbappe joined Paris Saint-Germain on loan from Monaco before signing permanently a year later for £160m.

He’s not done too badly since – winning a World Cup and three Ligue 1 titles, and he’s still only 21.

11. Alex Ferguson

Alex Ferguson wasn’t a player when Arsenal tried to get him, but why not stick him on this list?

Close your eyes and imagine Fergie at Highbury. All those titles. All those European Cups. It did almost happen twice, in 1983 and in 1986.

In 1983 Arsenal needed a new manager after Terry Neill was sacked. Ferguson had led Aberdeen to victory again Real Madrid in the European Cup Winners’ Cup and he was an outstanding candidate.

He said all the right things as well.

“I think Arsenal are the most glamorous team,” he told The Sun in December 1983.

“I include Manchester United when I say that.”

Nevertheless, he decided to stay in Scotland and wait for another opportunity to move to England.

That chance came again three years later and it was Arsenal again.

They offered him the chance to take over from Don Howe and they wanted a quick answer.

Ferguson met the Arsenal board but according to his account, they did not hit it off. He decided to stay at Aberdeen until the Manchester United job became available in November 1986.

At Old Trafford he won 25 major trophies including 13 league titles and two European Cups.

10. Gareth Bale

Arsene Wenger is human and he has made his fair share of mistakes. One of them was not signing Gareth Bale from Southampton for £5m in 2007.

In those days Bale was a left-back and Arsenal already had Ashley Cole and Gael Clichy.

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“I must confess it was a huge mistake,” Wenger said, “He struggled at the start at Tottenham, then they moved him to midfield.

“The career of a player sometimes depends on playing in the right position.”

Tottenham sold Bale to Real Madrid for £85m in 2013 and he has won the Champions League four times with the Spanish giants.

9. Eden Hazard

Like every other big club in Europe, Arsenal were very keen to sign Eden Hazard from Lille in 2012. Unlike their rivals though, Arsenal were very careful when it came to spending money.

Their business model was self-sustaining and they weren’t doping financially, as Arsene Wenger famously described clubs with rich spendthrift owners.

The total package for Hazard was going to cost £40m and that’s before you factored in his wages. It was too much for Manchester United and that meant it was much too much for Arsenal.

“We wanted to do that deal,” Dick Law, the former Arsenal transfer negotiator said.

“It was very, very difficult.”

Hazard signed for Chelsea where he established himself as one of the Premier League’s best-ever players before moving to Real Madrid in a £150m deal last summer.

8. Virgil van Dijk

Virgil van Dijk is the best defender in the world. He came second in both world player of the year awards last year and he lifted the European Cup as Liverpool captain in Madrid.

He is also the captain of the Netherlands and is about to win the Premier League.

Arsenal were tracking Virgil Van Dijk at Celtic prior to his switch to Southampton in 2015

It’s safe to say he doesn’t have any regrets about moving to Liverpool from Southampton for £75m in January 2018. He knows though that it could all have been very different.

Arsenal were interested in signing Van Dijk when he was playing for Celtic in 2014. There was a big buzz around him and he was available for £12m.

Arsenal decided against making a move because their scouts were worried that Van Dijk was too laid back.

7. Yaya Toure

“It would be at the top of my list of regrets.” Those were the words of Arsene Wenger when he reflected on how close Arsenal came to signing Yaya Toure.

Yaya even wore the red and white shirt in a pre-season game at Barnet in 2003 – he missed a sitter and Wenger described his performance as “completely average”.

Despite that, Wenger wanted him: “Let’s not forget that Yaya Toure had an agreement with us,” he said.

“We have made mistakes but he is not a mistake. It’s just the fact that he preferred to go to Metalurh Donetsk. He could go there without any passport.”

Yaya went on to win 10 major trophies playing for Barcelona and Manchester City.

6. Didier Drogba

This one really hurts. Didier Drogba loved scoring against Arsenal.

If Arsenal were playing Chelsea and Drogba was in a blue shirt you could almost guarantee that he would score.

What made it even worse was that he could easily have been an Arsenal. Arsene Wenger admitted that he turned down the chance to sign Drogba from Le Mans for £100,000 in 2004.

“I would have loved to manage Drogba for two reasons,” Wenger said.

“One, I missed him when he played at Le Mans. I knew there was a good player there and I missed him. And secondly, because he hurt us so much in big games that all this pain would not have happened.”

5. Luis Suarez

“What do you think they’re smoking over there at the Emirates?”

This is the story about Arsenal, Luis Suarez and the pound. Let’s clear it up. In the summer of 2013, Arsenal made a £40,000,001 bid for Liverpool striker Luis Suarez.

Arsenal tried to sign Luis Suarez from Liverpool in 2013

Arsene Wenger has since claimed Suarez wanted to come, but admitted the club had misunderstood the clause in his contract. £40m wasn’t a release clause.

It was simply a clause that allowed Suarez to talk to another club. The bid prompted the now-famous “what do you think” quote from Liverpool owner John W Henry.

Suarez did leave the following summer. Unfortunately for Arsenal, he went to Barcelona. For £75m.

4. Zlatan Ibrahimovic

“Zlatan doesn’t do auditions.”

The year was 2000 and a cocky, skinny 16-year-old from Malmo arrived in London. His name: Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

In his mind, he was about to sign for Arsenal, however, Arsene Wenger needed convincing.

“I went for an appointment with Wenger, who asked me to audition for the Gunners,” Ibrahimovic said.

“I told him I will not do a trial. Either you take me or not, I’m not here to waste time. I met Wenger because I expected him to tell me to start with them right away. But Ibra does not test.” Zlatan moved to Ajax a year later.

3. Ronaldinho

Arsene Wenger said it so it has to be true. In 2001 Arsenal really did try to sign Ronaldinho.

Back in those days, Ronaldinho was a 20-year-old forward who had scored 72 times in 145 games for Gremio. Wenger was hopeful that he could tie up a £4m deal until red tape intervened.

As a non-EU player, Ronaldinho needed a work permit and he couldn’t get one because he hadn’t played enough games for Brazil yet.

Ronaldinho was a target for Arsenal in 2001, before PSG snapped up the Brazilian playmaker

“We could have got Ronaldinho before he went to PSG,” Wenger said.

“I met his brother, who is his agent, but we just couldn’t get him to England because of the rules. Basically, what the rule does is force you to wait to buy the player but by then you cannot afford him.”

2. Lionel Messi

It’s not easy being an Arsenal fan and it’s not easy reading this list. Life is full of if onlys and if you support Arsenal they don’t come much bigger than this.

In 2003 Arsenal were busy raiding Barcelona’s youth teams. They signed 16-year-old Cesc Fabregas and Arsene Wenger wanted another young player who had caught his eye – Lionel Messi.

“We had discussions with Messi when we bought Fabregas,” Wenger said.

“We were interested in him but he was untouchable at the time.”

Messi is still untouchable and he is still at Barcelona where he has scored 627 goals and won 20 major honours, including the Champions League four times.

1:28

1. Cristiano Ronaldo

August 6th, 2003 will go down as a significant day in the history of Manchester United. Sporting Lisbon celebrated the opening of their new stadium with a glamour pre-season match against the English champions.

It was the game when Cristiano Ronaldo ran United ragged. It is said Sir Alex Ferguson was adamant he wasn’t leaving Lisbon until Ronaldo had signed.

Within a week, Ronaldo moved to Old Trafford after United agreed to pay Sporting £12m. Things could have been a whole lot different, though. We could easily be talking about Cristiano Ronaldo – the Arsenal legend.

“It’s true. Very close,” Ronaldo said when asked if he could have joined Arsenal.

“Seriously. It didn’t happen but Arsenal, tried their best. Especially Arsene Wenger.”….. Leave comments

When Liverpool can win the Premier League title.,

Liverpool could win the title against Merseyside rivals Everton on June 21

Liverpool are close to the title – but when can they seal it?

With Liverpool within touching distance of the league and the Premier League restart confirmed, we look at when the Reds can win a first top-flight title in 30 years.

Here, we do the maths on the possibilities, and how they can still lift the title against Everton on June 21, if Arsenal do them a helping hand…

When Manchester City’s game with Arsenal became the first game postponed due to coronavirus back in March, it looked like that could end up delaying Liverpool’s opportunity to seal the title, because City would have a game in hand whatever the Reds did. However, three months on and we’re back in business. So too is City’s game with Arsenal – it will kick the title-race proceedings off again on June 17. That will be music to Liverpool fans’ ears. Why? We’ll explain below…

So when can Liverpool now win the title?

It looks very much a matter of when, not if, Liverpool will win the title, and they could need only 90 minutes more to secure their first Premier League trophy.

If Arsenal beat City in that rearranged game, then Liverpool will be only three points from the title. That would mean victory at Everton (the venue for this clash is still to be confirmed) – live on Sky Sports and Sky Pick on June 21 – would be enough and confirm champions status in the sweetest style for Jurgen Klopp’s men.

Failing that, wins in any of their other eight remaining games, or even three draws along the way, would do it. If City don’t slip up against Arsenal, two wins, or any other combination of six points, would be enough for the Reds.

How is this possible, check this out….

  • The points record of 100 (City 2017/18) could be smashed; Liverpool will have 109 points if they win every game.
  • The biggest points gap between first and second is 19 points (City 2017/18) – the gap now is 25. City need to better Liverpool’s results between now and the end of the season by six points to protect that record.
  • Liverpool need six wins from their final nine games to beat the win record of 32 (City 2017/18).

Lets sit back and wait for the heat to begin and thesis are ascertained or reproved…… Leave your comments below

Premier League restart: Kick-offs and halif’s blog matches announced with sky sport coverage

Premier League football News will return to Halif’s blog with a double-header on June 17 – and a further 20 games broadcast live in the following fortnight on sky sport.

  • Coverage will provisionally resume on 17 June with Aston Villa vs Sheff Utd and Man City vs Arsenal
  • Further 20 games featuring all 20 clubs in the following 14 days – including Merseyside derby and Tottenham vs Man Utd
  • Halif’s blog  will give you updates on the 64 matches with live coverage by sky sports..

Aston Villa take on Sheffield United in the first live game of the restart on Wednesday, June 17 (6pm kick-off) followed by Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal up against his former boss Pep Guardiola and Manchester City at 8.15pm.

Aston Villa take on Sheffield United in the first live game of the restart on Wednesday, June 17 (6pm kick-off) followed by Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal up against his former boss Pep Guardiola and Manchester City at 8.15pm.

Wed June 17: Aston Villa vs Sheff Utd – 6pm, sky sports

Wed June 17: Man City vs Arsenal – 8.15pm, Sky Sports

Fri June 19: Norwich vs Southampton – 6pm, Sky Sports, Sky Pick

Fri June 19: Tottenham vs Man Utd – 8.15pm , Sky Sports

Sat June 20: West Ham vs Wolves – 5.30pm, Sky Sports

Sun June 21: Newcastle vs Sheff Utd – 2pm, Sky Sports, Sky Pick

Sun June 21: Aston Villa vs. Chelsea – 4.15pm, Sky Sports

Sun June 21: Everton vs Liverpool – 7pm, Sky Sports, Sky Pick

Mon June 22: Man City vs Burnley – 8pm, Sky Sports

Tue June 23: Leicester vs Brighton – 6pm, Sky Sports

Tue June 23: Tottenham vs West Ham – 8.15pm, Sky Sports

Wed June 24: Man Utd vs Sheff Utd – 6pm, Sky Sports, Sky Pick

Wed June 24: Liverpool vs Crystal Palace – 8.15pm, Sky Sports

Thu June 25: Southampton vs Arsenal – 6pm, Sky Sports

Thu June 25: Burnley vs Watford – 6pm, Sky Sports, Sky Pick

Sun June 28: Watford vs Southampton – 4.30pm, Sky Sports, Sky Pick

Tue June 30: Brighton vs Man Utd, 8.15pm, Sky Sports, Sky Pick

Wed July 1: Everton vs Leicester – 6pm, Sky Sports

Wed July 1: Bournemouth vs Newcastle – 6pm, Sky Sports, Sky Pick

Wed July 1: West Ham vs Chelsea, 8.15pm, Sky Sports

Thu July 2: Sheff Utd vs Tottenham – 6pm, Sky Sports

Thu July 2: Man City vs Liverpool – 8.15pm, Sky Sports

Trent Alexander-Arnold is confident Liverpool can find their form again once the Premier League restarts after the coronavirus suspension

Liverpool had amassed a remarkable 82 points from 29 games when the Premier League was suspended in March, with Klopp’s side having dropped points on just two occasions, with a solitary draw and a defeat.

With his side on course to eclipse Manchester City’s record total of 100 points from the 2017-18 season, Klopp has urged his players to win all of their remaining fixtures.

“The problem at the moment is that we still have to become one (champions),” Klopp said

“I am not sitting here and want to doubt that, but I also know that we want to win football matches and not only two, but if possible nine.

“This can become historic, I have to say so clearly. And not only club historical, but historical in general. We have the chance to get an unbelievable number of points and so we prepare ourselves and then we will see what comes out of it.”

Liverpool Premier League title parade could be next season, says Jurgen Klopp

“If this is the 12th or 13th matchday of next season and we want to celebrate it – who is going to stop it? Then we still have the trophy and then we can drive it around town and stand on the bus”

Liverpool are on the verge of securing a first top-flight title for 30 years and Klopp’s side require just two victories from their final nine games to guarantee the trophy.

Matches are set to resume behind closed doors on June 17, meaning Liverpool’s supporters will not be at Anfield to celebrate their likely triumph, or permitted to gather in the city to honour the campaign.

“That you can’t celebrate in the way you’ve always dreamed of, that’s not nice, I totally understand that,” Klopp told Sky Germany. “I feel the same way. It’s not that my ideal is to celebrate alone in the stadium, then just drive home.

Liverpool celebrated last season's Champions League triumph with a parade

“It wasn’t like that when you thought about it. But that cannot be changed now. Why should we now make a big deal about something that can’t be changed?null

“There comes a day when life will get back to normal. When someone has found the vaccine, when someone has found a solution to the problem, when infection rates are zero or below – that day will come eventually. Then we have the right to celebrate what we want to celebrate on that day.

“If this is the 12th or 13th matchday of next season and we want to celebrate it – who is going to stop it? Then we still have the trophy and then we can drive it around town and stand on the bus. If other people then think that we are completely crazy, I honestly don’t care.

“Can it then still be a special celebration? No question. It’s different, but different is sometimes absolutely OK.”…. Stay tuned for updates

FANTASY AROUND THE CORNER.

Hi Premier league fantasy lover,

Last week it was confirmed the Premier League season will resume on 17 June if all safety requirements are in place.

And today we’re pleased to let you know Fantasy Premier League is open again for FPL managers to prepare for the season 2019/20 run-in. But you’ll notice we’ve made the following changes:

  • The remaining season’s fixtures have been allocated new Gameweeks
  • Each new Gameweek is indicated by a ‘+’ (e.g. GW30+, GW31+, GW32+)
  • GW30+ is a double Gameweek starting with two midweek fixtures (AVLSHU and MCIARS) followed by a full round of 10 matches
  • FPL managers can make unlimited free transfers until the GW30+ deadline without playing a wildcard
  • Prices of players will not change until after the GW30+ deadline has passed
  • Any unused Wildcards or chips will remain available for use before the end of the season
  • Triple Captain, Bench Boost and Free Hit chips are available in GW30+

The Gameweek 30+ deadline is Wednesday 17 June at 17:00 BST, an hour before Aston Villa v Sheffield United kicks off at Villa Park.

Manage Your Team

With each match being played behind closed doors and broadcast in the UK it represents a great opportunity for FPL managers to tune in and scout the players, identify differentials and gain an advantage on mini-league rivals!

Finally, we’d like to take this opportunity to thank you for your patience over the past few weeks. We’ll continue to provide further updates, along with exclusive Fantasy Premier League content, via @ww

Our StanSalisu Yusuf Return As Eagles Assistant Coach – NFF

The Nigeria Football Federation, NFF, has hinted that ex-Super Eagles assistant coach, Salisu Yusuf may be appointed to occupy his former positions in the national teams.

Salisu, before he was banned for one year for receiving a ‘gift’ from a player agent was the head coach of the Nigeria’s Homebased Super Eagles, the U23 Olympic team, and the assistant coach to Gernot Rohr.

NFF president, Amaju Pinnick on Monday 1st June said the Rangers International coach has served his one year discipline adding that the punishment is enough to reform and not to deform him.

“Coach Salisu Yusuf has finished serving his sanction and that was why we sent him on secondment to Rangers International FC to help the club in its CAF Confederation Cup campaign. Of course, it is not an individual decision as the Board has to still look at it, and we also need to cross-fertilize with the Ministry of Youth and Sports and do some other consultations.

“But the truth is, he has served his punishment and I always said from Day One that punishment is meant to reform and not to deform.”

Salisu Yusuf was caught on a footage where he received foreign currency from an agent in exchange for his players who were in camp of the Home-based Super Eagle to be selected among the 23-man list to the Championship of African Nations (CHAN) held in Morocco in January 2018.

Dosu Joseph Urges NFF To Reconsider ‘No Bonus, No Allowance’ Decision For Age-grade National Teams

Former Super Eagles goalkeeper, Dosu Joseph has persuaded the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) to rescind the decision of no bonus and allowances for all the age-grade national teams, BSNSports.com.ng can report.

The 1996 Olympic Gold medalist solicited that the young players will need money for their upkeeps.

In an exclusive interview with BSN Sports, he said, “Well, it depends on what they (NFF) wants because I believe those boys deserve one or two things too, if they are in camp and no bonus, no allowance, how will they wash their clothes? Where will they get money to buy tooth paste and brush? The former Julius Berger goalkeeper asked rhetorically.

rhetorically.

Dosu Joseph

“They need money to take care of themselves everyday they spend while in camp and not when they qualify for competition alone. Even eating breakfast, lunch and dinner, they may need money to buy biscuits and so on.

Nigeria has won the FIFA U17 World Cup 5 times.

He urged the NFF to change their mind and reconsider paying bonus and allowances to the under-age national teams’ players.

“I don’t think it’s a final say, they (NFF) can still change their mind, may be he (Amaju Pinnick) said it when there was pressure .

“The boys need something to cater for themselves not when they get to world cup before they start getting bonuses and allowances, what if they didn’t win the tournament? What happen? I think the federation still need to sit and change their decisions.

NFF president, Amaju Pinnick on Monday 1st June, told journalists who participated in a media chat that there will be no bonus and allowances for the under-age national teams.

The Nigeria age-grade teams includes; the Golden Eaglets (U17 Boys national team), Flamingos (U17 women national team), Flying Eagles (U20 Men) and Falconets (U20 Women).https://googleads.g.doubleclick.net/pagead/ads?client=ca-pub-4051090697626869&output=html&h=300&slotname=1469566639&adk=4066028426&adf=1469590479&w=360&ebfa=1&lmt=1591570252&rafmt=1&psa=0&guci=2.2.0.0.2.2.0.0&format=360×300&url=https%3A%2F%2Fbsnsports.com.ng%2Fdosu-joseph-urges-nff-to-reconsider-no-bonus-no-allowance-decision-for-age-grade-national-teams%2F&flash=0&fwr=1&fwrattr=true&rpe=1&resp_fmts=3&sfro=1&wgl=1&adsid=NT&dt=1591570262474&bpp=20&bdt=8689&idt=3119&shv=r20200602&cbv=r20190131&ptt=9&saldr=aa&abxe=1&cookie=ID%3Da02f581620919d92%3AT%3D1591570265%3AS%3DALNI_MYTUY9WRFGq6glErtBl3xnY8aW3aQ&crv=1&prev_fmts=0x0%2C360x300%2C360x300%2C360x300&nras=1&correlator=7341889920929&frm=20&pv=1&ga_vid=1863540165.1591570261&ga_sid=1591570265&ga_hid=1166079239&ga_fc=0&iag=0&icsg=2321131502219251&dssz=50&mdo=0&mso=0&u_tz=60&u_his=1&u_java=0&u_h=640&u_w=360&u_ah=640&u_aw=360&u_cd=24&u_nplug=0&u_nmime=0&adx=0&ady=4125&biw=360&bih=560&scr_x=0&scr_y=442&oid=3&pvsid=351044922004839&pem=122&rx=0&eae=0&fc=1924&brdim=0%2C0%2C0%2C0%2C360%2C0%2C360%2C560%2C360%2C560&vis=1&rsz=%7C%7CeEbr%7C&abl=CS&pfx=0&fu=8336&bc=31&ifi=4&uci=a!4&btvi=3&fsb=1&xpc=u2Nqv5Okll&p=https%3A//bsnsports.com.ng&dtd=3143

“We are looking to still keep the age-grade teams in business, despite priority being given to the Super Eagles and the Super Falcons. But there will be conditions. They will earn no match bonus or camp allowances and we will only be able to take on board the minimum technical and backroom staff as specified by FIFA and CAF. However, if any of the team goes ahead and win the World Cup, or performs well enough at the World Cup to earn appearance fee, that money will be shared by the entire team. The NFF will have no part of it. That will be the boon for them, the incentive to perform.”