Allan Saint-Maximin scores as Newcastle beat Hull ahead of Premier League restart

Goals from Florian Lejeune and Saint-Maximin in a friendly match at St James’ Park gave Newcastle their second victory over Championship opposition in just four days, following Tuesday’s 3-2 win against Middlesbrough.

Lejeune opened the scoring in the first half, heading home Jonjo Shelvey’s accurate cross from a free-kick.

Newcastle vs Sheff Utd

June 21, 2020, 1:00pm

Live on Halif’s blog

Saint-Maximin doubled the lead just before the break, picking up a loose ball in the box and side-footing it beyond Hull goalkeeper George Long.

Newcastle resume their Premier League season at home to Sheffield United on June 21, live on Sky Sports.null

Steve Bruce’s side are currently 13th in the Premier League table and are eight points clear of the relegation zone.

Steve Bruce's side are 13th in the Premier League table with nine matches to play

As well as league commitments, Newcastle are in the last eight of the FA Cup for the first time since 2006.

Their quarter-final tie against Manchester City will take place on June 27/28, with the semi-finals and final scheduled on July 18/19 and August 1 respectively.

NAPOLI 1-1 INTER MILAN( Aggregate 2-1 Mertens fires club into coppa Italia finals.)

Napoli into first Coppa Italia final since their win in 2014 and will play Juventus in the final on June 17 in Rome

Mertens
Image:Dries Mertens scored his 122nd goal for Napoli on Saturday evening

Napoli were 1-0 ahead from the first leg at the San Siro three months ago, but their advantage was wiped out barely two minutes in as Christian Eriksen – making his fourth Inter start since his January moved from Tottenham – curled a corner home.

But it was Dries Mertens’ (41) slotted finish after a superb break from Lorenzo Insigne that ultimately sealed Napoli’s place in Wednesday’s final against Juventus, overtaking Marek Hamsik (121) as the club’s highest scorer (122) in the process.

Napoli have made it to their first Coppa Italia final since 2014
Image:Napoli have made it to their first Coppa Italia final since 2014

InteR will rue their lack of cutting edge, having had the better of the chances throughout.

How Napoli made it past Inter

David Ospina is congratulated after he helped set up Napoli's goal
Image:David Ospina is congratulated after he helped set up Napoli’s goal

Within two minutes, Inter hauled themselves level in the tie. A fizzing corner from Eriksen bypassed everyone, shot through the legs of David Ospina and nestled into the far corner

It was a stop-start first half but Inter saw the lion’s share of the chances and should have gone further ahead.null

In the 16th minute, an impressive Antonio Candreva could only lift his effort over the bar before linking up with Eriksen 13 minutes later. His cross from the right was headed on by the Dane for Romelu Lukaku, but the striker directed his own nodded effort wide.

Player ratings

Napoli: Ospina (7), Di Lorenzo (7), Maksimovic (8), Koulibaly (8), Hysaj (6), Elmas (7), Demme (6), Zielinski (6), Politano (7), Mertens (8), Insigne (8).

Subs used:
Inter Milan: Handanovic (6), Skriniar (7), De Vrij (7), Baston (6), Candreva (7), Barella (6), Brozovic (7), Young (7), Eriksen (7), Lukaku (7), Martinez (5).

Subs used: Sanchez (7), Moses (7), Biraghi (7), Sensi (n/a), Ranocchia (n/a).

Man of the match: Dries Mertens

Match Report: Juventus Secure Coppa Italia Final Sport despite Stalemate Versus Ac Milan

Cristiano Ronaldo’s penalty miss did not prove costly for Juventus as they played out a 0-0 draw against Ac Milan as football returned to Italy on Friday evening.
Despite playing close to 75 minutes with a man down, The resolve of the Milan defence proved to be a tough nut to crack for the Italian Champions but the draw was just enough to ensure that Juventus qualified for the final.
The two teams played out a 1-1 draw in the first leg of the semi-final at San Siro in February but had to wait four months for the return match at the Allianz Stadium due to the suspension of the competition on the back of the Coronavirus Pandemic since March.

Before kickoff, a minute silence was observed for those who died from Covid-19 and this was immediately followed up by a round of applause for the nation’s health workers.

Ronaldo failed to score from the spot kick after a VAR review which confirmed that Andrea Conti handled the ball in the area in the 16th minute. 17 seconds later, Ante Rebic was sent off for a lounge on Danilo but Juventus fail to take advantage of their strength in number.

Donnarumma was also tested by an effort from Blaise Matuidi in the 31st minute and he was also equal to Ronaldo’s attempt. Milan failed to test. Buffon had a quiet evening for the most part of the match despite Milan’s several forays forward. Milan threw caution to the wind despite their numerical disadvantage but had nothing to show for it in the end.

Hakan Calhanoglu could only divert his header wide three minutes after the restart before Rafael Leao came on for Giamoco Bonaventura to fill the void that Ante Rebic had left.

Fatigue in both teams was obvious despite being allowed to make five substitutions and the much anticipated contest ended in a full draw.

Juventus will lock horns with Napoli or Inter in the final while Milan will turn their attentions to Lecce on Monday night as they resume their Serie A campaign.

EXPERTS PREDICTION: Spanish football expert Alvaro Montero explains why Real Madrid will not be playing at the Santiago Bernabeu when the La Liga season resumes

Graham Hunter (Spanish football journalist, speaking on The Football Show)

Real Madrid have had an enormous problem converting their match superiority not just into goals but match-winning goals. I think they began to look a bit ragged and tired.

Nobody would have wished for this gap and its consequences but I think they will come back sharper and stronger. I was speaking to Ruben Baraja, the Valencia legend who is the current Tenerife coach, and he was saying that, in his opinion, the teams who are as close to competitive sharpness as possible won’t just win but win by heavy margins.

Which of Real Madrid and Barcelona will have trained and built up better in a short period of time? I think both of them will dislike playing in games without atmosphere – every top player, when you’re playing away and rival fans are taunting you, rises to the occasion. It’s going to be much more about mental toughness.

I think we’ll see a battle right to the end but if Messi is fit and at full gas, I see Barcelona dropping fewer points against the so-called lesser sides. Let’s see – it’s fascinating.

Terry Gibson (Spanish football pundit)

It’s difficult to predict who is going to win the title but I’m going to go for Barcelona for a couple of reasons. Firstly, Luis Suarez is fit again after being expected to miss the entire season and it’s going to be interesting to see his recovery after his knee operation as it has been something he has been struggling with for a few seasons now. If fit and sharp he could be decisive.

Real Madrid do also have two players back who were also expected to miss the rest of the campaign in Hazard and Asensio but Suarez has the potential to score more than the two of those put together in the last 11 games. Secondly, I believe the fact that Real Madrid playing their games at the Valdebebas training centre in a 6,000 capacity stadium will hinder them.

I understand that nobody will be in the stadiums anyway but even playing in an empty Nou Camp will still intimidate opposing teams. Can you imagine how big that pitch and bowl of a stadium will look and feel even empty compared to the Di Stefano stadium with two small stands, I worry it will have a training game feel for both sets of players involved in games there.

David Garrido (Sky Sports News Presenter and La Liga Expert)

The unprecedented situation we find ourselves in may well throw up a few more curveballs, especially with significant players back from injury and matches behind closed doors but it’s set to be a fascinating run-in.

What is crucial though is that Madrid have got the better head-to-head record with Barca, having drawn the first Clasico back in December and won the return fixture. For my money, Real Madrid deserve the title on how they’ve done so far and they should do it.

Injury boosts

Injury boosts

Real haven’t been helped by injuries to their attacking talents though. Eden Hazard has been restricted to just 10 league games since his big-money move from Chelsea last summer, undergoing surgery on his ankle in March.

Marco Asensio hasn’t played a single minute of football this season, after rupturing his ACL against Arsenal in a pre-season match. The good news for fans is that the exciting pair are both back in training and could be fit for the run-in.

Luis Suarez underwent surgery on his right knee earlier this year

But Barca have had some very positive injury news too.

Luis Suarez, who only trails Messi and Benzema in the race for the Golden Boot, is back in training after undergoing knee surgery in January. An all-firing front three of Messi, Suarez and Antoine Griezmann would strike fear into any defence.

The La Liga title could then come down to which former Premier League star can make the biggest impact upon their return.

Suarez or Hazard? Barcelona or Real Madrid?

Myself am waiting, what would you predictions be, leave comment

BARCELONA AND REAL MADRID: WHO HAS FIXTURE ADVANTAGE

The fight for silverware is set to resume but who has the edge?

The run-in

Barcelona have the slight advantage after 27 games. Since 2010/11, only one side has failed to go on to lift the trophy after being top at this stage. That was Real Madrid, who eventually finished third as neighbours Atletico lifted the trophy.

Real have one more home game left than Barcelona, with back-to-back home fixtures in store when the league returns. Zidane’s side are unbeaten at home in the league this season but, as we’ve seen already in the Bundesliga, home advantage seems to be reduced behind-closed-doors.

The advantage could be further diminished as Madrid will not be playing at the Bernabeu again this season due to refurbishment plans. Instead, games will be at the reserve team’s 6,000-seater Alfredo Di Stefano Stadium.

Both sides still have to face the current bottom three. Barcelona will be eased back into football with games against Mallorca and Leganes – 18th and 19th respectively – while Real will finish their season against Leganes, who will either have nothing to play for – or could be scrapping for their La Liga status.

Barcelona have already lost twice to Athletic Bilbao this season away from home

Statistically, Barcelona have a very slight advantage in the run-in. Their remaining opponents have a current average position of 13th, with Real’s averaging 12th.

Barcelona recorded eight wins against the 11 teams they have left to play, suffering draws to current bottom-side Espanyol and Osasuna, with defeat by Athletic Bilbao.

As for Real Madrid, they failed to record victories against four of their upcoming opponents, with draws against Valencia, Bilbao and Villarreal. They have to face league minnows Mallorca again, who provided the shock result of the season by beating them 1-0 back in October. In this entirely unscientific prediction, if both sides mirrored those results, Barcelona would pick up the title by four points.

Barcelona and Real Madrid ready to take La Liga title battle

Madrid ready to renew La Liga title battle

Barcelona lead Real Madrid by two points ahead of the 11 remaining games; follow Mallorca vs Barcelona on Saturday and Real Madrid vs Eibar on Sunday with live blogs on Halif’s blog website

La Liga is back – and that means the resumption of a title race between Real Madrid and Barcelona that could go right to the wire.

In truth, Spain’s heavyweights have been a shadow of their former selves this season but at least they’ve had the good grace to do it fairly evenly – just two points separate the sides with 11 games remaining.

Real will feel more than a little aggrieved not to have been top of the table before the league was suspended. El Clasico was the penultimate game before the closure, where goals from Vinicius Junior and Mariano saw Madrid run out 2-0 winners and go one point clear at the top.

Real will feel more than a little aggrieved not to have been top of the table before the league was suspended. El Clasico was the penultimate game before the closure, where goals from Vinicius Junior and Mariano saw Madrid run out 2-0 winners and go one point clear at the top.

Omg! Let’s just wait to know the real deal.. Leave a comment

LeBron james, LAKERS JOKER CARD FOR NBA CHAMPIONSHIP

At 35, season restart could be legend’s best chance to win title with the Lakers

The July 31 season restart may represent 35-year-old LeBron James’ best chance to win an NBA championship with the Los Angeles Lakers.

The desire to return to basketball in July was fed by a cocktail of motivation and incentive, guzzled by a league that would much rather ratchet up the endangered 2019-20 season than wrap it up.Sponsored link

And while there are obvious and multiple reasons for the willingness to cope with the complex chore of saving the season here in the rubble of coronavirus, here is the most meaningful one: LeBron James.

LeBron James NBA

3:19Take a look at the best plays from LeBron James from the 2019-20 NBA season so far

The sport’s box office king is healthy, hyper and, last we saw, still serving up quality basketball. Therefore, this is the tonic for a league and its network partners looking to recoup staggering losses from a four-month delay, and for legions of fans starved for live basketball drama instead of a documentary from a foregone era. And it is a tonic for a 35-year-old legend who knows this could be his best or only chance to win a title with his third team.

Yes, LeBron is ready to rescue the NBA, and vice versa.

Would the league be so hell-bent on moving mountains to resume play if, say, LeBron was hurt and unable to suit up? Perhaps so. But with LeBron having a reasonably strong chance of reaching the finish line with the Los Angeles Lakers, and maybe raising his arms in celebration if he breaks the tape, there’s a bit more urgency by all parties to see this through.null

With all due respect to the Milwaukee Bucks and the defending champions Toronto Raptors and the Clippers rising up on the other side of LA, they aren’t the engine that’s powering this undertaking. If LeBron and the Lakers are just as good over the next several weeks as they were the first several months, the intrigue and the ratings will be worth the wait.

What do you think about it, would LeBron become a saviour. Leave your comments..

Shakur Stevenson beat Felix Caraballo in Las Vegas in major US boxing’s return

Shakur Stevenson stopped Felix Caraballo in the sixth round

Shakur Stevenson showcased his skills and beat Felix Caraballo in six rounds on Tuesday night in Las Vegas as US boxing made its comeback.

The talented WBO featherweight champion made a comfortable debut in the division above at the MGM Grand Conference Center Grand Ballroom, a behind-closed-door venue, in the first event promoted by Bob Arum’s Top Rank since lockdown began.

“What a magnificent performance by Shakur Stevenson,” Arum said. “He keeps getting better and, rest assured, he is a future pound-for-pound superstar.”

Stevenson extended his record to 14-0

The fight was nearly over in the first round – Stevenson landed a body shot which forced Caraballo, a Puerto Rican who had never previously boxed outside of his home country, onto one knee.

Caraballo survived the early knock-down but Stevenson continued peppering him.null

Towards the end of the fifth, Stevenson landed a powerful left hand which hurt Caraballo.

Two consecutive punches to the body by Stevenson in the sixth round folded Caraballo in agony, and the referee called a halt.

“He hit me with a couple shots, more than I’m used to,” Stevenson said. “A couple jabs here and there. He was a tough guy, but I felt great in there after my training camp in Houston.”

The 22-year-old Olympic silver medalist Stevenson had previously been feted as “the southpaw Floyd Mayweather” by his promoter Arum who added: “He will be one of the major, major stars in boxing in the years ahead”.

He extended his pro record to 14-0 on Tuesday night then wore a T-shirt supporting the Black Lives Matter movement afterwards.

But his successful debut at super-featherweight is a complication in any potential unification fight with Britain’s Josh Warrington, the IBF featherweight champion.

Stevenson’s manager Andre Ward previously said about facing the undefeated Warrington: “[Stevenson] won’t just beat you, he can embarrass you. No fighter wants to be embarrassed. They see that in Shakur. I respect his desire to go [to the UK], I support his desire.”

Stevenson has previously explained his desire to win world titles in four divisions.

Wow: Tennis tycoon Roger Federer to miss US and French Opens due to surgery

Roger Federer is hoping to return to action in 2021

Roger Federer has announced he will miss the remainder of the 2020 season after undergoing further surgery on his right knee.

The 38-year-old has not played competitively since his Australian Open semi-final defeat to Novak Djokovic in January, having had his first bout of surgery the following month.

With the tennis season still under lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic, Federer has now written off the prospect of making a return until the new year.

In a message on his social media channels Federer wrote: “A few weeks ago, having experienced a setback during my initial rehabilitation, I had to have an additional quick arthroscopic procedure on my right knee.

“Now, much like I did leading up to the 2017 season, I plan to take the necessary time to be 100 per cent ready to play at my highest level.null

“I will be missing my fans and the tour dearly but, I will look forward to seeing everyone back on tour at the start of the 2021 season.”

The ATP Tour is on hold until at least the end of July due to the pandemic, with the US Open and French Open still set for a hectic back-to-back schedule in August and September.

Personally I don’t think tennis can be worth the watch for a long time…. What do you think? Leave comments..

MY OH MY: HUSHPUPPI ARRESTED IN DUBAI, WHY!

Report claims the Nigerian hushpuppi has be arrested in dubai

– According to a post shared to Snapchat, he was arrested alongside others in Dubai by Interpol

– The big money spender was allegedly arrested alongside Mr Woodbery

– Reports circulating the internet claims Nigerian big boy, Ray Hushpuppi, has been arrestednull

– According to a post shared to Snapchat, he was arrested alongside others in Dubai by Interpol

– The big money spender was allegedly arrested alongside Mr Woodbery

Judging by reports going round the internet, all may not be well for Nigerian big boy, Ray Hushpuppi as he was recently arrested.

According to the gist which is yet to be confirmed, the big money spender was recently arrested in Dubai, alongside one Mr Woodbery by Interpol and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in Dubai.

According to a video that’s begun circulating social media, the Nigerian big boys were allegedly surrounded by the International police and FBI on the grounds of being fraud suspects.

Report has it that they were arrested around 2pm, Dubai time.

– Reports circulating the internet claims Nigerian big boy, Ray Hushpuppi, has been arrestednull

– According to a post shared to Snapchat, he was arrested alongside others in Dubai by Interpol

– The big money spender was allegedly arrested alongside Mr Woodbery

Judging by reports going round the internet, all may not be well for Nigerian big boy, Ray Hushpuppi as he was recently arrested.

According to the gist which is yet to be confirmed, the big money spender was recently arrested in Dubai, alongside one Mr Woodbery by Interpol and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in Dubai.

According to a video that’s begun circulating social media, the Nigerian big boys were allegedly surrounded by the International police and FBI on the grounds of being fraud suspects.

The reports claim they were arrested around 2pm, Dubai time.

Early Hushpuppi Acquired a 126Million Naira Rolls Royce Cullinan 2020 The Rolls-Royce Cullinan is an SUV. The 2020 Cullinan starts at ₦126,750,000.00 (Manufacturer Suggested Retail Price), with a destination charge of ₦1,072,500.00. It gets EPA-estimated 14 MPG combined.

Let’s sit back and watch the mystery unravel…

Senate steps down N10.509tr revised 2020 budget


• Knocks presidency over omission of N186b health vote
• Probes moribund paper mills, to review importation of published books

Yesterday,The Senate said that inefficiency on the part of the executive arm of government threatened the quick passage of the N10.509 trillion revised budget draft sent to the National Assembly two weeks ago.

It expressed disappointment on the failure of the Presidency to include a N186 billion health allocation in the entire budget. It therefore stepped down further consideration of the budget bill, insisting that the right thing must be done.

Senate President Ahmad Lawan was furious that the executive arm of government ignored part of the budget meant to take care of health emergencies caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Trouble for the revised budget began when Lawan called on the chairman of the Appropriation Committee, Jibrin Barau (APC, Kano North), to lay the report for the consideration and possible passage of the revised budget bill.

Barau stunned the Senate when he informed his colleagues that the Presidency refused to capture the N186 billion health vote as part of the entire N500 billion intervention fund for COVID-19 in the appropriation bill.

He said while N314 billion was captured, as part of the intervention fund, the balance of N186 billion proposed for the health sector, was not.

“Upon making such observation at committee level, we quickly informed the budget office of the omission last week. The budget office, as part of excuses given for the omission, said since the entire N500 billion was captured in the MTEF/FSP documents already passed by the Senate, there was no need for it to be fully captured in the budget.

“But we rejected that excuse in line with Sections 80 and 81 of the 1999 Constitution, which empowers the National Assembly to appropriate every single kobo for the executive before spending. On the strength of our superior argument, the budget office admitted the omission but promised to write a letter to us, to be used as evidence of helping them to include it. But the expected letter never came till now, making us not to be ready for presentation of any report.”

Angered by the submission, Lawan made it clear that the National Assembly would no longer tolerate inefficiency from persons responsible for preparing and submitting budget estimates.

He said: “Let me make this comment. I will advise those responsible for putting budget estimates for revision or whatever to be meticulous and responsible. The issue is that there was an omission on their (executive) side and they are requesting for the inclusion of N186 billion.

We have to insist on this because when we simply put figures without the document supporting the inclusion, somebody will say we are padding the budget. The National Assembly will be castigated and in some cases even insulted.”

This was as the Education for All in Nigeria (EFAN) and Coalition Against Corruption and Bad Governance (CACOBAG) urged the Federal Government to review upward budgetary allocations to education and healthcare.

This was disclosed in a statement jointly signed by the founders, Mr. Oyewole Dele (EFAN) and Toyin Raheem (CACOBAG), yesterday, in Lagos.

According to the groups, the budgetary allocation to these sectors should not be reduced. They noted that 26 per cent of the country’s yearly budget should go to education, stressing that no nation can survive without adequate funding of its education and health sectors.

They also noted that budgetary allocation to the judiciary ought not to have been reduced. “Judiciary, as an arm of the government, is very critical to the development of democracy. We cannot have optimal performance from the judiciary if it’s being grossly underfunded,” they said.

The groups further urged the government not to make the planned renovation of the National Assembly complex a priority.

Meanwhile, the Senate also resolved to probe moribund paper mills. It expressed worry that the mills, which were privatised, may go the way of the power sector where government had to provide interventions of N1.8 trillion without any headway.

This was sequel to a motion on ‘The Need to Revive Moribund Paper Mills in Nigeria’ sponsored by Senator Stephen Ekpeyong. “It seems to me that those who bought them never knew what they intended to do. Instead of creating employment, they are contributing to the unemployment status of the country negatively. That is why it was referred to the Senate Committee on Privatisation for further legislative action,” Ekpeyong said.

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.

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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