By: Kamusime Barnabas
Premier League clubs have voted against retaining the five substitution rule for the 2020/21 season.
Following the resumption of the 2019-20 campaign in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, clubs were allowed to name nine substitutes and make five alterations during matches to support player welfare.
Some clubs wanted the new regulation carried over but the Premier League confirmed they were voted down at Thursday morning’s annual general meeting, held virtually, where all 20 members also backed changes to the video assistant referee as the system is to fall in line with FIFA protocol.
“At the Premier League’s Annual General Meeting today, Shareholders agreed to rules relating to VAR and substitute players for the 2020/21 season,” the statement read.
“Shareholders unanimously approved the implementation of VAR, in line with the full FIFA VAR protocol.
“Clubs also agreed to revert back to using up to three substitute players per match, with a maximum of seven substitutes on the bench.”
The VAR changes come as FIFA aims to have a unified approach to its implementation moving forward.
There was controversy across several Premier League games during the previous season, but the new protocols were agreed upon unanimously.
The changes will see referees use the pitch-side review area more often, with the Premier League now also using VAR to spot goalkeeper encroachment on penalties, while assistant referees have been told to keep their flag down for marginal offside calls until the attacking move has played out.
The 21-year-old has been linked with a possible move to Anfield this summer, along with Norwich’s Jamal Lewis and Brighton Ben White, as Jurgen Klopp looks to bolster his squad and replace Dejan Lovren.
The Reds closely monitored Kelly last summer before he left Bristol City in a £13million move to Bournemouth, and he could be on the move again after the Cherries’ relegation from the Premier League.
However, The Athletic claim Liverpool are not interested in going back in for the young Englishman, as sporting director Michael Edwards was ‘angry’ with the way the players’ agents conducted themselves last summer.
This is according to former Old Trafford ace Owen Hargreaves, who wants to see United also bring in a prolific goalscorer to convert all the chances Sancho is going to create.
The deal for Sancho has hit a rough patch over the past few days, with United unwilling to pay the £110million Borussia Dortmund are demanding – and they are ready to walk away from the transfer if necessary.
Few big-money signings were expected this summer due to the financial fallout of coronavirus, and Man United’s stance appears to suggest they are struggling fiscally.
But hope still remains that an agreement for Sancho will be reached over the coming weeks, with fans dreaming of seeing the England ace charging up and down the right flank at the Theatre of Dreams next season.
Sancho’s arrival would further improve a United attack which has been one of Europe’s best since football’s restart.
Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial and Mason Greenwood have been scoring for fun over the past month, and many would suggest bringing in Sancho is all that is required to establish the Red Devils’ front-line as world class.
But Hargreaves believes a new centre-forward is also a must, even naming his preferred target for Man United – Mario Mandzukic.
“Defensively [Man United] were one of the better teams in the league, but in terms of goalscoring they were way behind Liverpool and [Man] City,” said Hargreaves, as quoted by Metro. “You can do with a 20-goal scorer but I think I’d take Jadon [Sancho] first and then maybe get Mandzukic on a free.”
talkSPORT understands Spurs’ bid matches Saints’ £25m valuation of the Denmark international.
Saints are also signing Tottenham defender Kyle Walker-Peters, who spent the second half of last season on loan at St Mary’s, in a separate £12m deal.
Liverpool were once said to have agreed personal terms with the Spanish midfielder, who could leave Bayern Munich for as little as £25m this summer.
Then it was claimed the Reds are NOT pursuing the 29-year-old, while reports from a Munich-based publication suggested he wanted to join PSG instead.
But now, German football magazine Kicker claim Thiago ‘would like to join’ Liverpool.
The 22-year-old has been courted by a number of European clubs, including Manchester United and Napoli.
Well-respected journalist Fabrizio Romano reports that the Gunners are in the race to sign Magalhaes, with Napoli yet to make contact as they await news on Kalidou Koulibaly’s future.
It was previously understood that the Gunners had offered the Chelsea man his desired three-year deal.
The Blues were only willing to give the Brazilian, who turns 32 on Sunday, a two-year proposal.
According to ESPN, he has therefore agreed to go to the Emirates.
It’s claimed the deal is worth around £100,000-a-week, with the move expected to be announced later this month.
The end of Sanchez’s Old Trafford nightmare was officially confirmed on Thursday as the 31-year-old signed a three-year deal to make his San Siro move permanent.
An Inter statement read: “FC Internazionale Milano announce that Alexis Sanchez has joined the Nerazzurri on a free transfer. The Chilean forward has signed a permanent contract with the Club until 30 June 2023.”
Man United added their own statement which included a farewell message to Sanchez.
“Everyone at Manchester United wishes Alexis Sanchez all the best in his future career as he joins Inter Milan on a permanent transfer,” read their statement.
Ferran Torres, the winger, was signed earlier this week in a £20.8million deal from Valencia, before Nathan Ake’s £41m arrival from Bournemouth was confirmed on Wednesday evening.
Pep Guardiola is getting his business completed quickly, but he’s nowhere near done as Sky Sports claim the Catalan wants as many as FOUR more recruits before the start of next season.
The report adds that defenders are the priority – despite Ake, who can play at centre-half and left-back, already being brought in – with Kalidou Koulibaly of Napoli a top target.
Meanwhile, Guardiola is also looking for reinforcements further up the pitch; Lautaro Martinez is considered a long-term replacement for Sergio Aguero, while Joao Felix of Atletico Madrid has also been linked with an Etihad switch.
In April, the majority of players agreed to a 12.5 per cent wage, which they believed would help preserve jobs during the pandemic.
The Athletic say a number of them will raise the issue with the money men in north London, while they worry new signings and contract renewals may be blamed for the redundancies.
The Red Devils are chasing 20-year-old talent Sancho with the aim of bringing him back to Manchester this summer, three years after he quit Man City to move to Germany.
However, United could walk away from the deal as they are unwilling to pay the £108million Dortmund are demanding due to the financial fallout of coronavirus.
Nonetheless, talks are said to have been progressing between United, Dortmund and Sancho himself, and earlier this week an agreement in principle was reached for the winger to sign a five-year deal at Old Trafford.
But such reports have now been denied by Dortmund’s CEO, Hans Joachim Watzke, who insists talk of a United bid or contact between the two clubs is patently false.
“So far, there has been no contact between Borussia Dortmund and Manchester United in terms of Sancho,” Watzke told Suddeutsche Zeitung. “Also not indirectly or through alleged intermediaries.”
In the same interview the Bundesliga club’s sporting director, Michael Zorc, told reporters he expects Sancho to play for BVB in 2020/21.
“I expect Jadon to go to the training camp on Monday and play with us for the coming season,” added Zorc.
Having already offered Willian a contract, Philippe Coutinho’s proposed move to Arsenal is said to be at an ‘advanced’ stage, even though Arsenal announced 55 staff redundancies, including the scout who found Cesc Fabregas and Gabriel Martinelli.
The 28-year-old will end his stay in Barcelona and is desperate to return to the Premier League, which he left in 2018.
Tottenham have interest from both Milan and Monaco in right-back Serge Aurier, while the club are also eyeing the ‘Algerian Messi’ AKA Brentford’s Said Benrahma. Southampton, meanwhile, are keen on Kyle Walker-Peters.
Manchester United decided to tear up Alexis Sanchez’s contract and get him off their wage bill so he can join Inter, which will be announced on Thursday morning.
Elsewhere, Ryan Fraser could join Crystal Palace for free and Gareth Bale has been on the receiving end of another attempt by Real Madrid to get rid of him.
Bale has been left out of the club’s 24-man travelling squad to play Manchester City in the Champions League – but suspended Sergio Ramos was included!
And finally talkSPORT gets to Jadon Sancho.
He is yet to make his move from Borussia Dortmund to Manchester United and the Premier League side are lining up possible alternatives – Kingsley Coman being one, according to the Mail.
Former midfielder Paul Scholes, though, thinks strengthening Sancho’s position shouldn’t be the priority – a goal scoring centre forward like Harry Kane is.
Inter Milan will announce the free signing of Alexis Sanchez on Thursday as Manchester United decided to rip up the remaining two years on his deal.
The Italian club’s CEO Beppe Marotta confirmed the Red Devils flop has signed a three-year contract to make his loan move permanent, with an official announcement coming on Thursday.
Man City have signed Nathan Ake from Bournemouth for £41million to complete their second signing in as many days.
The Dutchman joins winger Ferran Torres, who moved to the Etihad in a £21m deal from Valencia on Tuesday.
Arsenal continue to dominate the headlines, first of all for their pursuit of out-of-contract Chelsea winger Willian.
The latest news is that the Gunners have formally offered the Brazilian a £100,000-a-week three-year contract.
All the while, Arsenal also announced they are planning 55 redundancies as a result of the financial impact from the coronavirus pandemic.
Elsewhere, Jadon Sancho’s proposed move to Manchester United could be in doubt as the Red Devils threatened to walk away if Borussia Dortmund continue to demand £108m.
However, Andros Townsend joined talkSPORT to say that fee represents a bargain.
However, suspended captain Sergio Ramos will be part of the group that travels to the Etihad for the last-16 second leg.
Madrid find themselves 2-1 down and must score at least twice to progress to the quarter-finals.
Ramos was sent off in the first leg and won’t be able to play any part in the match, although the defender will be allowed in the dressing room.
The bitter feud between Bale and Zidane is one of football’s worst-kept secrets – and the Madrid manager’s squad selection is just the latest in a string of insults exchanged between the pair.
Since Spanish football resumed, Bale has spent most of his time fooling around in the stands as an unused substitute for the La Liga champions.
Kai Havertz is ‘100 per cent’ focused on Bayer Leverkusen and has not been distracted by rumours linking him with a switch to Chelsea, Peter Bosz has insisted.
The Germany playmaker is reported to be close to a £70million move to the Premier League this summer, where he would join up with his compatriot Timo Werner at Stamford Bridge.
But Leverkusen manager Bosz does not believe the 21-year-old will have his mind in London when his current employers reacquaint themselves with their Europa League rivals from Glasgow after a five-month break.
Havertz scored the opener from the spot at Ibrox as Leverkusen claimed a 3-1 first-leg lead and are now looking to finish the job at the BayArena.
“I will answer these questions very shortly,” said Bosz at a press conference. “Yes, he will play and yes I’m convinced he’s 100 per cent still fighting for Leverkusen.”
The Netherlands international has put pen to paper on a five-year deal to keep him at the Etihad until the summer of 2025.
The end of the Sanchez’s Old Trafford nightmare looks set to be confirmed imminently as reports claim the 31-year-old is set to sign a three-year deal to make his San Siro move permanent.
United and Inter have been locked in talks for the last two weeks, with the winger’s loan spell due to run out on Thursday.
Sanchez has rediscovered his form in Italy following a disastrous year-and-a-half for Man United.
United handed Sanchez the most lucrative deal in Premier League history following his move from Arsenal in January 2018, which included a basic wage of £300,000-a-week plus image rights and bonuses which meant he could be paid as much as £560,00-a-week.
However, he scored just five goals in 45 games for the Red Devils, and was quickly deemed surplus to requirements by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
Now, the Daily Mail reports that United have decided to let Sanchez go for free in order to avoid paying him £50m over the next two years.
The Cottagers lasted just one season in the top-flight as they finished second from bottom, despite spending more than £100million on 12 new players.
However, they sealed an instant return to the Premier League thanks to two unlikely goals from Bryan, which included a clever 40-yard free-kick, in Tuesday’s 2-1 Championship play-off final win over Brentford.
“It’s a nervous topic to tread around,” he explained to talkSPORT the morning after the Wembley party.
“The make-up of the squad, the mentality, there wasn’t a winning mentality.
“There were people who were just happy to be there and weren’t going to graft and do the horrible bits that people don’t see and people don’t think you need in the Premier League.
But it’s a league where you need it more than ever, especially now.
“We’ve got the core of a really good, hungry squad and a good, young hungry manager and we’re well placed.
“There will obviously be additions because you need them to strengthen going into the best league in the world.
“But there is a core there that is really well placed going forward.”
Arsenal have have moved ahead of Manchester United and Everton in the race to sign Lille centre-back Gabriel Magalhaes, according to reports.
Saliba, 19, has dazzled on loan for St. Etienne this season but Arteta is scouring the market for at least one more defensive addition this summer.
Gabriel has impressed with Ligue 1 side Lille this season and has attracted interest from around Europe, with United, Everton and Napoli all linked with a move for the 22-year-old.
According to France Bleu Nord, Arsenal are now front-runners to seal a move for the Brazilian centre-back and have already begun talks with Lille over a move.
Arsenal have sent a formal three-year contract offer to Willian.
The 31-year-old will be a free agent once Chelsea’s Champions League campaign concludes this month after rejecting the chance to sign a new two-year deal at Stamford Bridge.
Sky Sports say Arsenal are now at the front of the queue to land the Brazilian.
The Gunners are understood to have offered him a deal which runs until 2023.
The contract on the table would reportedly see him earn more than £100,000-a-week.
The likely arrival of Willian comes as the club prepares to lay off 55 staff.
In a statement released on Wednesday, Arsenal insisted the decision to cut jobs is necessary due to the effects of the coronavirus pandemic on the club’s finances.
They also moved to assure supporters that investment into the team will continue as they aim to compete ‘effectively at the top of the game here and in Europe’.
Arsenal have announced their intention to make 55 staff redundant.
The Premier League club, who won a record 14th FA Cup last weekend, have been severely impacted by the coronavirus pandemic and say the move to reduce staff numbers is a necessary measure in their attempts to compete at the highest level.
A statement from Arsenal’s head of football, Raúl Sanllehi, and managing director, Vinai Venkatesham, read: “Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic we have been working hard to ensure that Arsenal Football Club emerges in a robust and strong position for the future.
“In line with other football clubs and many other businesses operating in the sport, leisure and entertainment arena, we have been impacted directly by COVID-19.
“Our main sources of income have all reduced significantly. Revenue from broadcasters, matchday and commercial activities have all been hit severely and these impacts will continue into at least the forthcoming 2020/21 season.
“The pandemic represents one of the most challenging periods in our 134-year history and we have responded promptly by implementing wide-ranging measures to reduce our costs. Our players, senior football staff and executive team have volunteered pay cuts, we have stopped pretty much all of our capital spending, and our discretionary operating expenditure has been strictly controlled.
“We have also received significant financial support from our owners, Kroenke, Sports & Entertainment in terms of refinancing our stadium debt. These steps have all reduced the impact of the pandemic on the club and have helped us continue to maintain investment in the team. This will continue to be a key priority.
“It is now clear that we will be facing more significant and longer-lasting reductions in our revenue than we all hoped.
Current indications are that we will not have fans back at Emirates Stadium for the start of next season and fans will only be able to return in limited numbers after that. The global economic projections are also very negative. This will impact the disposable income of our fans, the money corporate clients have to spend on hospitality and sponsorship, and the ability for broadcasters to invest in TV rights.
“We all hope there will be no “second wave” but we also need to accept that is one of the many uncertainties ahead of us and plan accordingly.
“Over recent years we have consistently invested in additional staff to take the club forward but with the expected reduction of income in mind, it is now clear that we must reduce our costs further to ensure we are operating in a sustainable and responsible way, and to enable us to continue to invest in the team.
“Our aim has been to protect the jobs and base salaries of our people for as long as we possibly can. Unfortunately, we have now come to the point where we are proposing 55 redundancies.
“We do not make these proposals lightly and have looked at every aspect of the club and our expenditure before reaching this point. We are now entering the required 30-day consultation period on these proposals.
“We know this is upsetting and difficult for our dedicated staff and our focus is on managing this as sensitively as possible.
“These proposed changes are ultimately about ensuring we take this great football club forward, creating the right organisation for a post-Covid world, and ensuring we have the resources to return to competing effectively at the top of the game here and in Europe.”
Rene Meulensteen believes Manchester United need to sort out their goalkeeper and defence this summer, also saying Harry Kane would be a better signing than Jadon Sancho.
No.1 glovesman David de Gea has faced criticism after making SEVEN errors leading to goals since the start of the 2018/19 season.
Dean Henderson, who has spent the past two seasons on loan at Sheffield United, could take the Spaniard’s spot next season, while Leicester star Kasper Schmeichel has been linked with a shock move to Old Trafford.
United have also made £108million-rated Borussia Dortmund winger Jadon Sancho their number one target, as Ole Gunnar Solskajer seeks to bring the superb forward to Manchester.
But Meulensteen believes Sancho is the wrong kind of attacker for Man United to target, also saying other areas of their squad need improvement as well.
The former Red Devils coach told talkSPORT: “They first need to solve and get clarity about the goalkeeping position because now there’s a debate about De Gea and the rumours with Schmeichel, but also Henderson is there.
“So that needs to be solved to make sure that’s clear.
“People are on De Gea’s back, but he’s still a very good goalkeeper; he’s had a few blips this season, he needs to sort that out.
“They also need someone next to Harry Maguire to strengthen that [defence].
“They’re bringing Jadon Sancho in, but more than anything, I would have gone for a more prolific out-and-out striker, somebody like Harry Kane.
“There is so much creativity coming from midfield with [Bruno] Fernandes, [Paul] Pogba, [Marcus] Rashford, [Anthony] Martial… they can all contribute to goalscoring.
“But [they need] somebody in the middle who’s going to score 25-plus goals. That will close the gap for United.”
Arsenal have ‘formally’ offered Willian a three-year contract, reports claim.
The 31-year-old will be out of contract when Chelsea’s Champions League campaign concludes after rejecting a new two-year deal.
Sky Sports say Arsenal are willing to offer Willian terms until 2023.
Chelsea boss Frank Lampard remained uncertain over Willian’s future after Chelsea’s FA Cup final loss to the Gunners last weekend.
He said: “It is his decision, I haven’t got that answer. I know the situation at the club’s end.
“I have a great relationship with Willian, but I don’t actually know what the decision is.
“If that happens over the next whatever days, as he said, then that would be good for me in either way.
“Of course, I am very happy with Willian. He has been brilliant for me this season with his input and work ethic, within the squad.
“But it is his choice and I respect his choice. He has been a great servant for Chelsea if he decides to move on, and if he does decide to move on then Chelsea will move on and we have to look forwards ourselves.”
Buyers beware – a transfer is never done until the player signs on the dotted line as Tottenham have found out previously.
Years before Chelsea made them look ridiculous by pipping them to Willian – after he completed a Spurs medical – Arsenal had got one over their London rivals.
Emmanuel Petit was in the capital to talk to Tottenham about a move in 1997 only for Arsenal to get word to him NOT to sign anything before he heard from Arsene Wenger, with Spurs inadvertently paying for his taxi to Wenger’s house!
Manchester United will not regret forking out the fourth-highest transfer fee in football history to sign Jadon Sancho this summer, insists Andros Townsend.
The Red Devils have been heavily linked with a move for the England winger and are thought to be locked in negotiations with Borussia Dortmund over a big-money deal.
However it is now being reported that the move, promising to be the biggest saga of this transfer window, may not happen.
Reports late on Tuesday claimed United are refusing to be held to ransom by the Bundesliga club over their incredible asking price for the Three Lions star – who joined them for just £8million from Man City three years ago.
It is understood Man United are now threatening to pull out of negotiations unless Dortmund lower their demands, saying they cannot justify splashing that much cash for Sancho’s fee and wages in a post-COVID-19 environment.
But Premier League ace Townsend insist it would be money well spent by the Red Devils, saying the 20-year-old ‘has got it all’ to be one of the top footballers in the world.
“Jadon Sancho is a world-class player, potentially a future a Ballon d’Or winner,” the Crystal Palace winger told the talkSPORT Breakfast.
“Paying £110m for a player of his age and his quality, I think he’s more than worth that.
“He’s English, he’s young, I think they’re getting a bargain if they are getting him for that price.
“Obviously he’s going to bring a lot of creativity, he’s a very fast and skilful player, he can play on both wings, he’s two-footed, he’s played oversees so can handle that pressure of leaving his family…
“He’s got it all for someone of such a young age – he’s only 20!
“Like I said before, he’s a world-class player and at £110m I think Man United are getting a very, very good bargain here.”